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Remembering Andrew Jackson and Nullification

If one Tennessee legislator gets his way, federal agents could be arrested for enforcing any potential assault weapons ban. But the concept of a state trying to cancel out federal measures was already tried 180 years ago, observes WPLN’s Nina Cardona. And the president who squashed that effort was one of Nashville’s most famous residents.
In 1832, the hot-button issue wasn’t guns, but tariffs-taxes on imported goods which many Southerners considered constitutionally suspect. South Carolina went so far as to declare the tariffs null and void, bar anyone from collecting them within that state, and even threatened to secede.
President Andrew Jackson responded with a proclamation taking apart the maneuver point by point.
“Near the end of it he appealed to South Carolinians directly and he said, ‘you’re Americans. You’re not just South Carolinians, you’re Americans,’ told them it was wrongheaded to consider national legislation merely from the point of local or state interest.”
University of Tennessee History Professor Daniel Feller says Jackson ultimately won that battle, showing that the Constitution simply doesn’t allow states to pick and choose which laws to follow. But Jackson also reminded states of a place they can protest: the Supreme Court.