Favorite

Nullification lives 

What timing.

I participated in a University of Arkansas Law School panel last week reflecting on Cooper v. Aaron, the important U.S. Supreme Court decision that said a state official (Orval Faubus) couldn't impose his state's wishes against a federal court decision (school desegregation).

A panel of scholars, politicians and me discussed nullification and secession 55 years later.

The consensus: Nullification is a frivolous legal argument nowadays. That didn't deter Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger of Hindsville from defending his bill this year to nullify federal firearms law. Secession? Theoretically, it could still happen. Practicalities are another matter.

My point was this: People never stop trying to find ways to nullify things they don't like. Particularly a certain sort of Southern conservative embodied by today's Republican Party.

Three days later, the U.S. government shut down full operations because Tea Party Republicans said they wouldn't approve a budget including money for implementing the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.

The law was passed three years ago. President Obama won re-election last year in a campaign pitched largely on opposition to his signature health care law. But massive resistance has never stopped.

Arkansas Republicans think the image of President Obama alone will give them a bigger electoral mandate in 2014. In the meanwhile, there is no fight too petty for them to wage to keep more people from receiving health coverage.

Last week, Arkansas Republicans in the legislature delayed a review of a $4.5 million federally paid contract to advertise the expansion of health coverage. Lack of information and misinformation are rampant. For the system to work, it must be understood and well used. This will expand the pool to include healthy people with low health costs.

Republicans said last week they wanted to wait for the new rates under the health exchanges before considering the ad contract. Come Monday of this week, with rates published, Republicans again refused to give a favorable review to the advertising contract because, well, it's just not the time. Sen. Bryan King said there's another election in 2014! If people like him are elected to take office in 2015, well, who knows? Obamacare might finally be reversed five years after the fact. This may not be textbook nullification, but the effect is the same.

Morril Harriman, a veteran former legislator and Gov. Mike Beebe's chief of staff, commented that he had deep pessimism about the ability to form public policy because polarization had moved from Washington to Little Rock. I mentioned this on Twitter and got instant support for Harriman's pessimism. Two paid Republican shills reflexively sneered at Harriman's remarks as nothing but sour grapes that Beebe isn't all powerful. Baloney. No governor — at least since Faubus — has enjoyed such power. Consensus once was possible on many issues. But the prevailing Republican sentiment is that there is only one way to compromise — their way. Everybody else shut up.

Underlying all this is the Republicans' refusal to accept the legitimacy of President Obama or the law. Led in Arkansas by Tom Cotton and Tim Griffin, Republicans think it a legitimate bargaining tactic to hold government, the livelihood of tens of thousands of people and vital help for millions hostage to defeat something they couldn't defeat through a legitimate democratic process.

Can they get away with it? Maybe. Tell a lie often enough and it sometimes is received as fact. Thus, Griffin and Cotton are blaming the government shutdown on President Obama's refusal to bow to economic terrorism. Pay their ransom or hostages die.

Imagine if the Democratic Senate said it wouldn't pass a budget until the House required popularly supported background checks at gun shows. You'd need ear plugs. If not a bulletproof vest.

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Sunshine bill filed on restaurant tax records

    Rep. Stephen Magie of Conway today introduced legislation to repeal former Rep. Micah Neal's 2015 bill that exempted restaurant and hotel sales tax records from the state Freedom of Information Act.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Comparing a tax cut with a tax credit

    Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families have compared the cost and impact of two tax relief bills that came out of the House committee this morning — Gov. Asa Hutchinson's income tax cut for those making less than $21,000 a year and Rep. Warwick Sabin's bill to give an earned income tax credit to state taxpayers equal to 5 percent of the
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Thursday's open line, plus news

    What's on your mind? Have at it.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015
  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015

Most Shared

  • UPDATE: Retired Arkansas Arts Center director Townsend Wolfe dies at 81

    Townsend Durant Wolfe, III, retired director and chief curator of the Arkansas Arts Center, has died at 81.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Praising Asa

    Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More on LRSD tax

    When the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a Walton Foundation-paid lobbyist, long devoted critics of the Little Rock School District, lead the messaging for a quarter-billion dollars in new tax debt for the district, it is cause for caution.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • A heart in this house

    Since Election Day, I have been at a loss as to how to direct my energy. I am spinning in circles.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Ah, yes, Boris and Natasha again - the lurid details of those e-mails that Lyons…

    • on January 19, 2017
  • Re: Hillbillies

    • Thanks. Good advice, Deadsea. And you're right - I've given her too much credit.

    • on January 19, 2017
  • Re: Hillbillies

    • Tony, my advice to you is to do what i have done, let it go…

    • on January 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation