According to the nullification concept, states have the power to override any unlawful legislation, and the judgment is unassailable by any federal institution. The Supreme Court hears a legal challenge to an unlawful statute and issues a ruling. However, if a state judge finds that the law in question violates the Constitution, then it is not only unconstitutional but also void ab initio (from the beginning). In such a case, the statute cannot be enforced within the state, and the defendant is not punished for violating the law.
The doctrine was important because it gave power back to the states from where it was taken by Congress in the form of unlawful laws. If nullification had not existed, there would have been no way for states to resist the federal government's expansionary policies. As it turned out, most states did resist such policies by refusing to enforce them within their borders.
In conclusion, the doctrine of nullification was very important in American history because it gave power back to the states after it was taken away from them by Congress in the form of unlawful laws. Without this protection, more areas of policy might have been forced on the states which they would have had no choice but to accept.
Nullification is a legal philosophy that contends states have the authority—and the duty—to nullify national actions that they consider illegal. In its most visible form, state leaders deploy this sort of opposition to oppose perceived federal overreach and reject federal authority. However, states cannot stop the federal government from enforcing its laws; rather, they can only delay or prevent agencies from acting against their will.
In the mid-19th century, several states adopted resolutions asserting their right and duty to nullify any federal law that they deemed unconstitutional. Today, these assertions are incorporated into specific legislative procedures in all 50 states.
These procedures serve two main purposes: first, they provide explicit recognition that states have a role to play in our system of government; and second, they give voice to states' rights arguments when there is debate over whether to adopt a particular federal law or not. For example, North Carolina's nullification issue before adopting its own constitution in 1776 was whether the new government should adopt the federal Constitution or not. The General Assembly voted to invalidate the federal Constitution until such time as Congress agreed to certain amendments. This action is recognized by all 50 states as a valid exercise of their powers under their own constitutions.
Nullification is based on the assumption that each state has an independent and equal status with regard to the other states and the federal government.
It is a legal idea in United States constitutional history that a state has the authority to nullify, or invalidate, any federal legislation that that state has judged unlawful with respect to the United States Constitution (rather than the state's own constitution). The concept of nullification was first announced by John C. Calhoun in a 1828 speech before the South Carolina Senate.
In that same speech, Calhoun advocated making the federal government responsible for paying all of the states' debts. This idea became known as "calumny against debtors' prisons." Today, it would be called "obligation of payor" status under our system of sovereign credit ratings.
Nullification begins with a statement by some high-profile official within the receiving state saying that they will not comply with federal laws they believe to be unconstitutional. Other states are free to ignore these officials, but they cannot be punished by other states or nations for doing so. Nullification is based on natural law and natural rights concepts regarding the supremacy of the Constitution over any acts of Congress. These ideas were popular among Southern politicians during the era of slavery. They believed that no human being is owned by another person, thus ending slavery. States have the right and obligation to determine their own form of government, including the extent of representation in Congress.