Issues & Insights
Courtesy of the office of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

Hey, Red States: Just Say ‘Null’

Well, here’s our Great Unifier, Sleepy Joe Biden. 

Newly empowered by an election heist about which a “conspiracy” of “left-wing activists and business titans” is now openly crowing to Time magazine. And throwing caution to the wind and kicking sand in the face of a weakened, chastened opposition with a leftist-inspired, illegal, unconstitutional, take-no-prisoners barrage of jaw-dropping, job-destroying, mind-boggling, morality-bending, cuckoo-cockamamie, culture-crushing executive orders, memoranda and proclamations.

Hey, let’s “re-engage” with the casuistical, China-coddling, COVID-upcovering World Health Organization. Rejoin the unachievable, U.S.-burdening Paris climate agreement. Reverse expansion-unleashing Trump regulatory reforms. Deep-six fossil-fuel jobs Candidate Joe pledged to protect by canceling the Keystone XL pipeline and federal-land energy-leasing. 

Loose a tsunami of pro-illegal-immigrant, anti-American-worker orders from protecting “Dreamers” to halting border-wall construction to ending deportations for sex offenders to reversing the travel ban to restoring “catch-and-release.”

Issuing mandates on masks, funding abortion, propping up Obamacare, forcing girls to compete with biological males and otherwise shoving the totalitarian transgender agenda in its full Brobdingnagian breadth down the gagging throats of the public. Bury the history-restoring “1776 Commission” in favor of polarizing, reverse-racist political correctness.

In short, poke all 10 fingers into the eyes of millions of Americans now once again left neck-deep in, defenseless from and in danger of seeing their life preferences, livelihoods and perhaps even lives swept away by the reflooding federal swamp.

What to do about this in-your-face assault on the rights, interests, preferences and prerogatives of nearly half of America and the majority of its states and political jurisdictions?

Well, in this corner, hope is still being held out for the New America Opt-Out. And/or a Shadow Trump Presidency to sustain the MAGA movement.

But there’s an another possibility, actually being forwarded in statutory form by Republican South Dakota State Rep. Aaron Aylward. 

“Just say null.”

As in nullification. As in states reasserting their fully anticipated roles in a federal system as a check on centralized power in distant D.C. and accountable, sovereign guardians of the rights and interests of their close-by citizens.

Go ahead. Go all Andrew Jackson on this correspondent. (As in “I will hang the first man I can lay my hand on engaged in such treasonable conduct, upon the first tree I can reach.”) Smugly cite Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, Ableman v. Booth and Cooper v. Aaron. 

This correspondent will see your Jackson, Joseph Story (anti-democratic elitist), Roger Taney (you really want to stand with the author of Dred Scott?) and Earl Warren (despised of most strict constructionists). And raise you Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, both of whom favored constitutionally based nullification theories (though the latter walked it back somewhat).

Try to connect the concept to Southern states, slavery and opposition to civil rights. This commentator will remind you that America’s greatest nullification crisis related to tariffs. Will point out that Massachusetts, Connecticut and Ohio all attempted nullification of federal laws and actions they considered federal overreach and contrary to their citizens’ interests. And will encourage you to consider, as many conservatives have suggested, that “sanctuary laws” protecting illegal immigrants from federal enforcement – and promoted by the wokest of the woke – are in fact modern-day nullification initiatives.

Besides, this column is not promoting cancellation of constitutionally enacted laws (yet) or evils such as one person owning or discriminating against another (ever). Rather, as Aylward proposes, states should stand up to improper federal impositions on their citizens’ rights.

Like insisting that if Sleepy, Sloppy Joe wants to subject sovereign states and their citizens to the high and disproportionate costs of unscientific, unenforceable international agreements, there’s a way to do it: submit those pacts for Senate ratification. 

Change the nature and enforcement of immigration statutes duly passed by Congress and signed by prior presidents in ways that impose burdens on thousands of lower governments and their working families? Then propose that the legislative branch amend the applicable sections of the United States Code.

Have testosterone-powered boys pounding on and outmuscling weaker girls on athletic fields? Employ the bully pulpit to convince local authorities with actual, appropriate jurisdiction over the matter, not to mention their constituencies. 

And impose promise-puncturing, job-junking, growth-gouging, inflation-inducing and state budget-busting restrictions on global and interstate commerce and use of federal lands? Though Mr. Biden has some power to effect that, there’s a more appropriate means to that end, as well: campaign forthrightly, openly and specifically on his plans and their implications for his own base as well as his political enemies’. And – here’s a thought – win those elections free of unconstitutional enactments and orders and one-sided, early-morning explosions of votes out of nowhere.

Meanwhile, if the Supreme Court thinks the LGBTQ agenda needs to be advanced – from same-sex marriage to forcing funeral-home owners to inflict cross-dressed transitioning employees on grieving families – elections and the legislative process are how that should be brought about, too. As opposed to dictates countering conjured-up “animus” and re-imagining Congressional intentions.

Perhaps South Dakota can indeed lead the way to a needed constitutional rebalancing, as it has in other areas under its courageous current governor. In which case, the correct expression may in fact be: “Just say Noem.”

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Bob Maistros

Bob Maistros, a messaging and communications strategist and crisis specialist, is of counsel with Strategic Action Public Affairs, and was chief writer for the Reagan-Bush ’84 campaign, three U.S. Senators, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at


  • Wisconsin’s State Supreme Court nullified the federal Fugitive Slave Act in 1854. Also, Wisconsin and 8 other northern states passed Personal Liberty Laws during the 1850s that all but nullified the FSA.

  • This is a smart article, presentation. Perhaps our author has read Hegel and senses that the left is losing momentum while the right is gaining. Or perhaps this fight is really nothing more than a simple, yet nasty divorce being played out with our current politicians.

    Clinton certainly ramped up lying. Obama took it into overdrive. Biden, as best he can, does in fact mouth phrases he has been fed, while his new sidekick at every important meeting…(being mentored so to speak as President in Waiting), Harris is more than a natural liar, she is the sycophant Obama picked to stand in front of the curtain. Who doesn’t like a liar?

    Place your bets on when the left’s game will collapse! Not until the right decides to really get in this fight will anything change. What will the middle do if given the chance and time to make a cogent move?

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