If Trump were not such a volatile hazard to the country, I might like him being the president. He is, unwittingly, a surprisingly excellent ambassador for nullification. It’s because, according to the tenth amendment to the US Constitution, any Federal act that that exercises powers not delegated to the Federal government is null and void. This includes congressional legislation and most executive orders.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


So, when Trump does something as egregious as insisting that he has “total authority to reopen the economy”, or insisting that all schools open in August, all while the coronavirus pandemic is still largely out of control, some States are simply flipping him the one-finger salute and following their own reopening plans.

I suppose that if Trump doubles down on trying to cut education funding to States that do not heed his orders, it could change the public-school system even more than the virus has. I doubt it would be the end of it, as much as I would wish. But it might be surprising what happens when there isn’t any money to support it, even if its temporary. (Though there is precedent from the first SCOTUS ruling on Obama Care that says States can’t be held hostage until they comply with Federal demands by withholding funding. So, the threat is likely empty starting the moment the suit is filed.)

The States have had so much one-finger salute practice lately, with Trump throwing his weight around and issuing completely tone-deaf and dangerous orders, I hope it becomes the rule rather than exception and spawns a rash of rejecting extra-constitutional exercises of authority over more than just executive orders.

Wouldn’t that be nice?