I suppose it works to some degree with the South-Will-Rise-Again crowd, but that’s actually the most dangerous aspect of the resurrection of the nullification movement on the far-right: it legitimizes a ludicrous course of action and emboldens racists, bigots, misogynists and homophobes. The only way to appear even worse in the eyes of history than to simply oppose same-sex marriage based on selective readings of scripture is to further augment your antiquated ideology by invoking the weapon of states’ rights neo-confederates in the process.
That’s exactly what Judge Roy Moore has accomplished in Alabama by demanding that probate judges refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the wake of a federal court ruling that declared the ban to be unconstitutional. In other words: he’s ignoring and effectively nullifying the federal law. The good new is that licenses were issued on Monday anyway — and so Judge Moore took radical action in the name of bigotry and religious zealotry anyway. History will definitely take note, and not in a good way.
Meanwhile, in Unhinged Arizona, state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) supports similar action to nullify federal gun laws. Ward announced she’s sponsoring a bill that would ignore federal gun regulations that are declared to be contrary to the Second Amendment. Just to give you taste of how truly batshit crazy Ward is, she not only vocally supported nullificationist rancher Cliven Bundy last summer when he and his redneck buddies formed a line of battle against Bureau of Land Management officials, but Ward also believes that “chemtrails” are real, and has scheduled a hearing about the issue.
There’s very little chance of a successful nullification effort today, especially in the South. But it makes for excellent entertainment by way of a flashback to the extremists of the pre-Civil War era and on through the middle 20th Century when some of America’s worst racists and bigots proudly waved the nullification flag in the face of rapidly shifting tides. Now, many decades later, history hasn’t been kind to men like George Wallace or John C. Calhoun who cloaked nullification in the disguise of freedom, but really only championed it as a means of oppression. And here they go again.