You probably already agree with nullification


Nullification is not a big deal. I would say that nearly everyone agrees with it without even realizing it. And it already happens whether people want to acknowledge it or not. Every time someone breaks the law, they are in essence nullifying it. What becomes of these people if they are caught and tried is an expression of how society views their actions.

Take a murderer for instance. I don’t think that most police officers are going to agree with this man’s opinion that he should be allowed to murder people, so they arrest him. And when he goes on trial, the jury is going to have to be convinced that murder is okay. Given the way that virtually no one today sees murder as anything but wrong, our murderer isn’t going to get away with it.

How about a much less serious example? In a previous post, I wrote about how we nullify stop signs every time we do not make a complete stop at one. Let’s change it around a bit. Imagine driving down the road and approaching a stop sign. As you’re preparing to stop, you look in your rearview mirror and see the driver behind you not paying attention and not slowing down. You look forward again and see that no one is in the intersection, so instead of getting rear ended, you drive through the intersection without stopping. A police officer nearby watches you do this, pulls you over, and writes you a ticket (maybe his view of the intersection was blocked and he didn’t see the other car).

You fight the ticket, since you believe that your nullification of the stop sign was justified, and go to traffic court. When you are given the chance to present your case, you explain to the judge exactly what happened. Understanding the laws regarding stop signs, but also realizing that you made a reasonable choice to avoid an almost certain collision without putting anyone else in harm’s way, the judge agrees to nullify the stop sign law and finds you not guilty.

Both the judge and you did not follow the law. Were either of you in the wrong for doing so?

Nullification does not remove someone’s responsibilities for his actions. It does not give anyone a free pass to do whatever he wants. What it does do is bring rational thought and analysis where there would otherwise be blind adherence to a given rule.

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