Michael Boldin is an ideologue who has spent years promoting the idea that states can “nullify” federal legislation they don’t like — the very same argument pushed by defenders of slavery and segregation, and just as baseless now as it was then.
About Michael Boldin
Michael Boldin is the founder and executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC), an organization that favors “nullification” of federal laws it considers unconstitutional. Founded in 2007, the TAC is based on an expansive reading of the Tenth Amendment, which says that those “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.”
Boldin describes the TAC, which offers model bills and resolutions on its website, as “a non-partisan think tank that supports the principles of strictly limited constitutional government.” Boldin evidently runs the organization from his home, which also houses Webstores, LLC, where he is listed as manager.
As a practical matter, however, the TAC is on the political far right, opposing a whole array of federal laws and regulations. It has gained wide support among hard-line libertarians and neo-Confederates who are still angry at the powers the federal government accumulated after the Civil War that allowed it, among other things, to act against segregation, discrimination and other social ills. (In the 1950s, several states tried unsuccessfully to resist desegregation by nullifying federal laws. The courts have consistently rejected nullification as unconstitutional.) The group’s site, in another indication of its politics, rails against centrist Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a “dedicated Socialist.”
For a time, Boldin crisscrossed the country, taking the TAC’s nullification message to supporters known as “Tenthers.” Its “Nullify Now!” conferences were held between 2010 and 2013 in cities including Austin, Texas, Jacksonville and Orlando, Fla., and Manchester, N.H.
These conferences were often headlined by prominent figures in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement, which years grew dramatically after the election of Barack Obama in 2008. The Austin gathering, for instance, featured Art Thompson of the John Birch Society, which once argued that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a communist agent, and Stewart Rhodes, head of the conspiracy-minded Oath Keepers, a group that encourages police officers and soldiers to disobey “unconstitutional” orders. Kevin Gutzman, a professor of history at Western Connecticut State University and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, also spoke.
Thomas E. Woods, a former member of the neo-Confederate hate group League of the South and the author of Nullification: How to Resist Tyranny in the 21st Century, was another constant on the “Nullify Now!” tour.
The TAC’s partner in this endeavor was the Foundation for a Free Society, which espouses the libertarian free-market theories of Murray Rothbard and the Austrian school of economics. Foundation leader Jason Rink has described the federal government as the primary threat to liberty.
In June 2012, Boldin called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Obama’s health care law “an assumption of undelegated powers” showing that “evil is advancing.” He urged “Tenthers” to lobby their state legislatures to nullify it.
Following the lukewarm reception of the “Nullify Now” tour, Boldin turned to crowd-funding in 2015 to pay for his “Teach 150,000 People to Nullify” campaign. This campaign was established to “get out of our echo chamber and aggressively teach new people about nullification as the solution to our problems.” Boldin created an online video series that is easily shared and digested by those who might not otherwise understand Boldin’s unique interpretation of the 10thAmendment. The fundraising effort continued in 2016 with plans for another series of videos on “the Constitution, nullification and liberty.”