Michael has written two full-length books, two smaller volumes, and several e-books.
His most recent publication is Constitution Owner’s Manual: The Real Constitution the Politicians don’t Want You to Know About. This is “Constitution 101,” explaining important constitutional provisions and principles through the eyes of those who ratified the document. You can read more about the book HERE.
Michael’s first full-length book was Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. The books lays out the moral, philosophical and constitutional arguments for state nullification of unconstitutional acts. You can learn more about the book HERE.
Other Books By Michael
State nullification of unconstitutional acts presents one of the most contentious issues in modern American politics.
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison first formalized the principles in 1798, but opponents use a later document penned by Madison to assert he never supported the idea, and in fact, opposed state nullification. Progressives and conservatives alike point to Madison’s Notes on Nullification in an attempt to delegitimize the principles.
In Smashing Myths: Understanding Madison’s Notes on Nullification, Michael Maharrey digs deep into Madison’s 1835 exposition on nullification and reveals that the “Father of the Constitution” was not denying the legitimacy of nullification as understood in 1798 at all, but in fact, affirmed the principles.
Maharrey analyzes Madison’s Notes on Nullification paying careful attention to context. He examines passages used by nullification opponents in light of historical context, their placement within the document itself and Madison’s other work to show that opponents misconstrue their meaning by trying to force them to stand alone. He goes on to show that while opposing a form of nullification invented by John Calhoun and other South Carolina statesmen, Madison continued to affirm Jeffersonian nullification as articulated in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798.
Drawing on both his experience as a journalist and knowledge gained from years studying the historical, philosophical and constitutional roots of nullification, Maharrey provides an in depth exegesis of the Notes and presents it in an easy to read, logical format. It is accessible to the layperson, but will challenge the academic.
Smashing Myths: Understanding Madison’s Notes on Nullification is a must read for anybody interested in the principles of nullification and their constitutional legitimacy
Softcover: 50 pages
Publisher: Tenth Amendment Center (November 18, 2013)
To purchase, click HERE.
Nullification Objections: Dismantling the Opposition
With 60 power-packed pages of information, this handbook will serve as your guide. From moral and historical objections, to statements from James Madison himself, Maharrey and Boldin give you the tools you need to refute the most common objections to nullification.
Nullification is logically, constitutionally and morally the rightful remedy. But there are those who don’t like the idea of the People asserting their legitimate power through their states, or even their local communities.
Opponents come from the political left, the political right and even from so-called moderates. Some simply believe in the supremacy of the national government and want the opportunity to operate the levers of power to their own end. Some don’t like nullification because it throws a monkey-wrench in their efforts to advance their particular agenda – from environmental activism, to universal health care, to fighting “terrorists.” And some fight against nullification because they mistakenly believe it is rooted in the immorality of slavery and racism.
In this handbook, we take an in-depth look at some of the most prominent objections to nullification and how to counter them. Along the way, you will see that nullification stands as a legitimate course of action from a historical, philosophical and moral standpoint. You will see that some of the historical assertions made by opponents are simply incorrect, and you will see the logical inconsistencies in many of their arguments.
Softcover: 60 pages
Publisher: Tenth Amendment Center (November 18, 2013)
To purchase, click HERE.
The Constitution and the Report of 1800 (E-Book)
What limits do the Constitution place on the federal government? What does “necessary and proper” mean? What can the federal government do to promote “common defense” and “general welfare?” Is the Supreme Court really supreme?
Your answers to these questions reveal a lot about how you view the federal government. Through the decades, federal supremacists of every stripe have sought to answer them in a way that supports expansive federal power.
This is nothing new. The ink was barely dry on the Constitution when those favoring a centralized national government began redefining various constitutional clauses to justify expansions of federal power. But, a coalition led by the “Father of the Constitution” vigorously opposed them.
In 1798, James Madison composed a document commonly known as the Virginia Report of 1800. While it was specifically written as a defense of the Virginia Resolutions of 1798, a close reading of the report provides a detailed analysis and keen insights into several of these key constitutional issues. Madison effectively obliterated arguments apologists for federal power were using to justify ignoring the First Amendment, separation of powers, and other constitutional provisions meant to limit federal authority.
It is Madison’s views that I focus on in this e-book.
Free! DOWNLOAD HERE
The Jefferson Letters, Vol. 1: Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions (E-Book)
In 1798, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison penned the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, formally detailing the principles of nullification for the first time. Standing alone, the resolutions make a strong case for nullification. But they don’t reveal the whole story.
The resolutions were actually just a first step in the strategy Madison and Jefferson developed for dealing with the unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts. Correspondence between the two men, and other players involved in the fight to block this early example of federal overreach, provide a much clearer picture of what they were trying to accomplish in the long run.
During the summer of 1798, Congress passed four laws together known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. These laws violated several constitutional provisions and represented a gross federal usurpation of power.
The first three laws dealt with the treatment of resident aliens. The Alien Friends Act gave the president sweeping power to deport “dangerous” aliens, in effect elevating the president to the role of judge, jury and “executioner.” The Alien Enemies Act allowed for the arrest, imprisonment and deportation of any male citizen of a nation at war with the U.S., even without any evidence that the individual was an actual threat. These laws unconstitutionally vested judicial powers in the executive branch and denied the accused due process.
The most insidious of the laws was the Sedition Act. It essentially criminalized criticism of the federal government, a blatant violation of the First Amendment.
Recognizing the Alien and Sedition Acts represented a serious threat to the constitutional system, and with few options for addressing the overreach due to Federalist Party control of the federal government, Jefferson and Madison turned to the states.
Jefferson secretly drafted the Kentucky Resolutions, and the Kentucky legislature passed a revised version on Nov. 10, 1798. Asserting that “the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government,” Jefferson proclaimed that nullification was the proper way to deal with unconstitutional acts.
“Where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non fœderis) to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them.”
On Dec. 24, 1798, the Virginia Senate passed resolutions penned by Madison, asserting not only the right, but the duty, for states to step in and stop unconstitutional actions.
“In case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”
Taken together, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions lay out the principles of nullification. But they did not actually nullify the Alien and Sedition Acts. These non-binding resolutions merely made the case for nullification and set the stage for further action in the future.
As Jefferson and Madison strategized on how to address the Alien and Sedition Acts, they corresponded by mail, discussing their ideas. Ten key letters give further insight into their strategy. Their correspondence reveals that the resolutions were merely intended to serve as a starting point, setting the stage for additional, more aggressive steps to stop the federal overreach.
Wilson Cary Nicholas was also involved in the effort. He was an important figure in the Virginia ratifying convention that approved the Constitution, and at the time the Alien and Sedition Acts passed, he served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. He was a close and trusted friend of Jefferson, and delivered Jefferson’s draft of the Kentucky Resolutions to John Breckinridge, who eventually introduced them in the Kentucky House.
Following, you will find the ten letters between these three men reprinted in their entirety. Some of the letters also address other issues. In those cases, the relevant passages have been bolded.
Free! DOWNLOAD HERE