Dear Senator Stevens,
I am writing to commend you for voting for sanity and the Constitution when you voted against SB250. A small group called Campaign for Liberty has targeted you as the Senator to persuade to change his vote when they try to bring SB250 back up for another vote. Since the last committee vote was 4-4, the bill is not dead and could be revived and if one vote changes the bill could be voted out of committee. I don't know why they think you are he weak link. They are saying some terrible things about you. They are calling you a "traitor to the second amendment and "doing Governor Bills Haslam's grunt work to bring Obama gun control to TN."
I know that as an elected official, if you get a few calls or letters on an issue you may think that represents public opinion. Of course, in reality, a bunch of phone calls or emails may only represent a non-representative small group. That is the case with the calls you are getting on this issue now. If you get letter calling you a "traitor" or accuse you of working for "Obama's Gun Control" or calling you a coward, you know where they came from. I am enclosing a sample of the despicable stuff they are putting out about you. See below:
STOP Sen Stevens From Voting For Obama's Gun Control Next Week!!!
Newly elected State Senator John Stevens is a TRAITOR to the 2nd Amendment and is doing Governor Bill Haslam's grunt work to bring Obama gun control to TN.Sen. Stevens, I am sure you realize the Internet has an awfully big echo chamber so there are other groups and individuals going to pick up on this. Nevertheless, it is still a small group of people.
Yesterday State Senator John Stevens voted AGAINST SB250 which would force the TN government to arrest any federal official who tried to institute Obama's gun control here in Tennessee. Senator Stevens claims to be a proponent of the 2nd Amendment, but really he is only talk. Senator Stevens said he might vote for it but then caved to pressure from Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and Senator Kelsey after they "bribed" or bullied him to change his vote yesterday; he is a coward. Senator Stevens will tell you that he is committed to the 2nd Amendment, but yet he votes against it as you can clearly see in this video: http://youtu.be/Vbcm5Uy0iTc?t=18m21s
The bill will come for another vote very soon, and when it does, we must pressure him to change his vote and instead vote FOR SB250!!!
It is CRITICAL that you call, and e-mail him, and tell him that he had better vote for SB250 or else he will face the political consequences (perhaps even getting thrown out of office).
You are right to oppose SB250. Nullification is unlawful, dangerous, and unconstitutional. SB250 is a very dangerous bill. If local law enforcement people start trying to arrest federal agents carrying out federal law, people will get killed. Don't change your voted.
While nullification has its advocates, thinking conservatives know it is unconstitutional. Advocates of nullification like to ignore or explain away the supremacy clause. Conservative groups and publication that have editorialized against nullification is a who's who of the conservative movement and include The Heritage Foundation, The CATO Institute, National Review, Weekly Standard and Human Events.
Please continue to stand up for the Constitution and sanity. Continue to oppose SB250. There are several other good proposed bills that oppose gun control and I hope you will support those bills. Senator Kelsey introduced a resolution (SR0017) that puts the State Senate on record as expressing its "firm intention and resolve to fully marshal the legal resources of the state of Tennessee to judicially challenge and overturn any effort by the federal government to restrict or abolish the right of the people to keep and bear firearms or ammunition."
Another good bill is SB40 sponsored by Senator Nicely (HB10 by Rep. Faison). SB40 says that no state funds, property or personnel can be used to enforce a new federal gun law. That is appropriate and sensible. There is a big difference between saying the state will not enforce a federal gun law and saying agents of the State will arrest agents of the Federal Government who enforce Federal law. The approach of Senator Nicely and Rep. Faison in proposing the state not enforce federal law and the approach of Senator Kelsey in proposing that the the Senate go on record as resolving to fight in the courts any new restrictions on the Second Amendment are reasonable and sensible responses to new gun laws that may violate the Second Amendment. Ordering local sheriffs to stop federal agents from carrying out federal law is just nuts and will get people killed.
Below is a previous article I have written on the issue.
Since writing the above, I have found a more in depth and scholarly discussion of nullification also produced by the Heritage Foundation and you can find it at this link: Interposition and the Heresy of Nullification: James Madison and the Exercise of Sovereign Constitutional Powers.
The pro-nullification forces are very vitriolic in their denunciation of those with whom they disagree. Many tea party types are claiming that the conservative position is to support nullification. If you disagree with them, well maybe you got your understanding of the constitution from liberal academics.
Rosine Ghawji, the co-chair of a group called Memphis Tea Party, posted a letter he wrote to Sen. Brian Kelsey on the Federation of Republican Women facebook page. Sen. Kelsey is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and led the fight to defeat SB250. Ghawji accuses Senator Kelsey of having been brainwashed and says he "doesn’t understand the most basic constitutional construction." He goes on to say, "Brian Kelsey is a perfect example of one whom vows an oath the the US Constitution - BUT CLEARLY doesn't know what is in it - or doesn't care."
The Tenth Amendment Center has posted a picture that features President Obama with a caption that ask, "Was this guy Tennessee Senator Brian Kelsey's law professor?" We conservative activist are being bombarded by self-taught constitutional experts who tell us to ignore the history of failed attempts by states to nullify federal law, to ignore the outcome of the civil war, and to ignore 250 years of constitutional case law.
If like me you believe the supremacy clause really means something and that nullification is unconstitutional and dangerous but feel like the whole conservative movement is heading in the other direction, take heart. The most vocal conservative activist may be on a bandwagon that is endorsing nullification, but you are not alone.
The Heritage Foundation is a prestigious well-respected research and educational institution that has been around since 1979. There mission is "to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.:" It is difficult for anyone to claim they are part of the liberal establishment. A little over a year ago, they published a short essay on their web site explaining why nullification is unlawful and unconstitutional. "There is no clause or implied power in either the national or the various state constitutions that enables states to veto federal laws unilaterally," they say. Many advocates of nullification claim that Madison and Jefferson supported the theory of nullification. Heritage says that is not so and explains the historical record to prove it.
National Review in an article Nullification Temptation said , "Nullification is a dangerous weapon to brandish. Its danger lies in how easily it could destroy not just Obamacare, but the entire Constitution." NR also argues against nullification in an article called Federal Nullification Is a Bad Idea. National Reveiw is the conservative journal founded by William F. Buckley in the 1950's. They have been the leading source of conservative thought since their founding. No one could underestimate NR's contribution to the Conservative movement. Also, the Weekly Standard has taken a position against nullification.
Another prominent think tank often described as libertarian or libertarian-leaning is the Cato Institute. In an article exploring the constitutionality of Obamacare a Cato Institute journalist wrote, "Under the 10th Amendment, if Congress enacts a law pursuant to one of the 'powers … delegated to the United States by the Constitution,' then that law is supreme, and nothing a state can do changes this. Any state power to 'nullify' unconstitutional federal laws has long been rejected."
There are plenty of sensible respected conservative voices speaking out against nullification. Just because the proponents may yell the loudest it does not make them right. Do not question your conservative bona fides because you are not swept away by the passion of the moment. With National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Heritage Foundation and Cato on my side, I feel pretty confident of my position. Clearly nullification is unlawful, unconstitutional and dangerous. Below is a link to the Heritage article mentioned above.
Feb 8, 2012 – Despite good intentions, some have been tempted to embrace nullification: the claim that an individual state legislature has the authority to veto ...
Senator Stevens, since I am making this an open letter I am enclosing your contact information, so that if others want to write you and express their support they will know how to reach you. Your contact information is phone number 731-695-7449 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep the faith. Continue to vote for sanity and the Constitution.