Now there is a bold proposal that directly defies the federal government by nullifying federal firearms laws. State nullification of federal law is the legal theory that individual US states have the right to invalidate any federal law that the state finds unconstitutional.
Eight former Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs said Tuesday that the federal government needs to act now or it might lose the chance to nullify Colorado and Washington's laws legalizing recreational marijuana use.
Republicans enthused by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer's recent tough talk on wolves are getting closer to using an ancient "nullification" doctrine to disregard the federal law protecting endangered and threatened species — a plan the governor quickly dismissed as "off base."
The 2nd Circuit US Court of Appeals has ruled that recording an in-person conversation without the knowledge of all parties is only a violation of federal wiretapping law if the person making the recording intends to use the recording for illegal purposes. At least in the states that do not have explicit laws against recording cops, this should nullify the abuses of wiretapping laws against people recording in public.
On Thursday, Washington became the first state to officially legalize marijuana, soon to be followed by Colorado as their new laws legalizing the drug for recreational use go into effect. A survey out Friday shows what Americans want the federal government to do about the states whose drug laws clash with national laws: Leave them alone. Fifty-one percent of Americans in the new HuffPost/YouGov poll said that in the two states that have legalized marijuana use for adults, the federal government should exempt any adults following state laws from federal drug law enforcement.
Several U.S. states have started reassessing their medical marijuana laws after stern warnings from the federal government that everyone from licensed growers to regulators could be subjected to prosecution. The Department of Justice said two years ago that it would be an inefficient use of funds to target people who are in clear compliance with state law. But U.S. attorneys have said in their recent memos that they would consider civil or criminal penalties for those who run large-scale operations — even if they are acceptable under state law.
Jury nullification, a legal concept that dates back to 17th century England, remains perfectly lawful in the United States, according to a ruling by a federal judge last month.
U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood said 80-year-old Julian Heicklin, who was arrested by FBI agents for passing out pamphlets marked "Jury Info" from an organization known as the Fully Informed Jury Association to an undercover agent, was within his legal rights under law to do so. Prosecutors had argued that Heicklin was in violation of U.S. law, which prohibits influencing jurors through written communication.