Rand Paul is dipping back into civil war era vocabulary in his latest attacks on President Obama, vowing to “nullify” the president’s executive orders on guns.
“In this bill we will nullify anything the president does that smacks of legislation,” the Republican Senator from Kentucky said Wednesday. “And there are several of the executive orders that appear as if he’s writing new law. That cannot happen.”
“I’m afraid that President Obama may have this ‘king complex’ sort of developing, and we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen,” Paul said.
Paul is the first prominent Republican to use the term “nullification” in reference to Obama’s executive action, but he’s not the first to try to stop them. Wyoming lawmakers threatened to pass legislation to stop federal “gun grabbers” last week, before the president had even announced his plans. Lawmakers and law enforcement officers in other states, from Tennessee to Oregon and beyond, have discussed similar plans.
The moves come in spite of the fact that the Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected state attempts at nullifying federal law.
Moreover, unless Congress acts, only Obama’s 23 executive orders will go into effect. None of those apply to local or state law enforcement, only the federal government, which is clearly within the president’s jurisdiction.
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine blasted Paul’s comments this morning calling nullification “a code word.”
“Look at when nullification has been used. It’s been used a lot, kind of, it’s a states’ rights argument that gets used in times of great controversy,” he said this morning. “The president is acting by executive power that is legally conferred on him. And as you pointed out, you went over these executive orders. They’re basic, common sense things.”
“The notion that we’re going to nullify presidential action when the president is acting pursuant to law, that’s just kind of this anti-government rhetoric that I’m surprised to hear somebody in government use it,” he said.