A look at some of the history, observances & holidays on November 24
The Feast of Flora and Maria, two women of ninth-century Cordoba who were executed by Muslim authorities for their Christian faith. Flora, whose father was Muslim, was thus considered Muslim by Sharia law. She was charged with apostasy when she refused to give up her Christian faith and “return” to Islam. Maria was charged with blasphemy when she denounced Islam and embraced Christianity. Both women were beaten, threatened with being forced into prostitution, then ultimately executed by Muslim authorities. Though it may seem a long time has passed since ninth century Cordoba, the reality is that charges of apostasy and blasphemy are regularly used in the Muslim world through this day to justify executions and other punishments, to keep Muslims in line, to prevent dissent from orthodoxy, and to punish non-Muslims who criticize Islam.
1832 – South Carolina causes the Nullification Crisis.
Do states have a right to nullify those federal laws they do not like? The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution’s Article VI would seem to answer that argument when it states, that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” But that did not stop South Carolina from claiming that, under the doctrine of “state’s rights,” state legislatures could nullify within their borders any federal law they deemed unconstitutional.
This “states rights” issue did not first arise in context of slavery. Rather, it came about because of a general economic downturn for the nation in the 1820’s, coupled with tariffs the federal government voted to impose on European manufactured goods in order to protect domestic manufacturing. The tariffs inured to the benefit of the Northern States, with their manufacturing based economies, and fell most heavily upon the Southern States that had agrarian economies and who were the greatest importers of European manufactured goods.
This became a defining issue in South Carolina politics of the 1820’s. South Carolina finally tossed down the gauntlet on the issue and passed, on this date, the Ordinance of Nullification, declaring the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 null and void within the borders of the state. President Andrew Jackson, whose sympathies on the issue of the unfairness of the tariffs lay with the South, none-the-less responded with a Proclamation to the People of South Carolina, setting forth the legal and practical arguments against the Ordinance, arguments that Jackson summarized thusly:
I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which It was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.
The battle lines were clearly drawn. South Carolina prepared for war. Congress of 1833 passed the Force Bill, authorizing President Jackson to use military action against South Carolina in order to enforce compliance with federal law. But then both sides backed away from the Rubicon. Congress passed a Compromise Tariff of 1833 that was acceptable to the politicians of South Carolina, and South Carolina’s legislature voided its Ordinance.
That ended the nullification crisis as to tariffs, but the nullification issue would come back to the fore with a vengeance in the 1850’s over issues directly related to slavery. Then there would be no backing away from the Rubicon.
The Democrats of the 1830’s lacked the subtlety of modern progressives. State legislatures nullifying a federal law is and always will be a bridge too far. But if you go through ideologically compromised progressive judges, they can effectively nullify any federal law they choose. We’ve seen it often enough — lawfare used against the Trump administration with nationwide injunctions set by district courts, sometimes in cases where they do not even cite to controlling law — that it almost seems the normal. But it is not. Indeed, to quote Jackson, it is “inconsistent with every principle on which” the Constitution is “founded.”