Since Laws Are Now Optional, Let’s All Work Naked

The word “nullification” is being spoken mostly on the fringes of public debate, but the concept it represents is very much part of the current losers’ remorse.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) participates in a Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill June 4, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

This is an excerpt from Bloomberg's daily Opening Line column.

A series of victories for the Obama administration and Democrats generally has some Americans so angry they are bringing up that very ugly N-word. 


The word is being spoken mostly on the fringes of public debate, but the concept it represents—that states can choose which federal laws they do and don’t follow—is very much part of the current losers’ remorse.

The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, used the startling word “lawless” to denigrate the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, which is kind of like criticizing a dictionary for being “wordless.”

Paxton said “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist” county clerks who refuse to issue same-sex wedding licenses, “in many cases on a pro-bono basis,” because Texas lawyers have nothing else to do.

Another Texan (that must be a coincidence), Senator Ted Cruz, says states should ignore the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling until specifically instructed to comply—by name. You know, like in kindergarten.

Also on Bloomberg Politics: Ted Cruz, Ken Paxton Court New Fight on Gay Marriage Over Texas Licenses

Some clerks in Kentucky are making a statement by refusing to grant any marriage licenses at all.

It’s not hard to imagine why a passionate defender of traditional male-female marriage might be ready to revolt, since some of the Supreme Court’s own justices seem to be encouraging it.

As Jay Michaelson writes at the Daily Beast, “With invective and hyperbole,” the four dissenting justices used “heated language to accuse the five-person majority of imperialism, a ‘putsch,’ and worse.”

Suddenly, the branch of government that saved the country from a President Gore has become a threat to American democracy.

Rick Santorum complained about the power of “five unelected judges.” Mike Huckabee called them “five unelected black-robed lawyers.” Also raising the red flag about important decisions being made by “a committee of nine unelected lawyers” was Justice Antonin Scalia, an unelected lawyer who has sat on the court since 1986. 

Conservative scholar Charles Murray was out ahead of this movement. Even before the Supreme Court’s big week, he was calling for a public rebellion against “stupid, pointless regulations” to “overload the enforcement capacity of the regulatory agencies.”

Those include such notoriously barbarous entities as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Murray writes in his well-timed new book, “By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission.”

Back in the Lone Star State—sorry, can’t resist—a recent poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune found 44 percent of Texans said it’s somewhat or very likely that the federal government would order the military to impose martial law; 52 percent said the same of the U.S. military arresting political protesters.

And a robust 39 percent said they support their governor in having the Texas State Guard monitor the U.S. military’s activities in Jade Helm 15, the exercise, starting in two weeks, that has fueled the darkest imaginations of government-conspiracy spinners—the very same people who might take it literally when a Supreme Court justice sounds the alarm about a “judicial putsch.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.