Sometimes these days at the state Capitol it seems as if we are in a time warp back to the 1960s, or even the 1860s. The latest exercise in futility – sound and fury signifying nothing other than ridicule for Mississippi – is a bill introduced in the House that would create a Joint Legislative Committee on the Neutralization of Federal Laws.
Read that again.
“Nullification” and “interposition” were the cries that led to the Civil War, when states thought they could “neutralize” federal laws. Hundreds of thousands died and the nation was torn asunder, but the issue was settled: Federal laws trumped state laws, and court decisions ever since have upheld that basic principle of our republic.
But Mississippi and other southern states thought we’d try it again in the 1950s and ’60s in ill-fated efforts to “neutralize” federal civil rights laws. It was a disaster for our state, leading to two decades of wasted time, money and effort, inflaming a climate of violence and inflicting damage on our national image that has never been fully repaired.