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Joni Ernst Has A History Of Advocating Nullification Of Federal Laws

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WASHINGTON — On Monday, The Daily Beast reported that Republican Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst once appeared to speak favorably of the concept of nullification.

“Bottom line is, as a U.S. senator, why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? I mean, that’s bottom line, is our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws,” Ernst said at a forum hosted last year by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition.

The idea of nullification, which was popularized by pro-slavery advocates in the years leading up to the Civil War, holds that states may “nullify,” or void, federal laws they disagree with. Such a move is impossible under the Constitution.

But Ernst’s legislative record and prior statements on the matter suggest that she wasn’t simply musing about an outdated legal theory. Rather, she appears to have been a proponent of nullification for years.

As the Beast reported, the first-term state senator co-sponsored a January 2011 resolution claiming Iowa’s sovereignty over certain mandates imposed by the federal government that “are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment.”

The 10th Amendment holds that powers not specifically accorded to the federal government in the Constitution are instead granted to the states.

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