By Paul Gable
Somewhere James L. Petigru has a little smile on his face today as South Carolina’s latest attempt at nullification of a federal law went down in the S.C. Senate earlier this week.
Petigru, a 19th Century lawyer, legislator, S.C. attorney general and judge, was a leader of anti-nullification forces in South Carolina before the Civil War and critic of secession, yet a well-respected Charleston resident both before and after the war.
When South Carolina voted to secede from the Union in December 1860, Petigru uttered his most famous quote, calling the state “too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.”
Petigru was called a truth-sayer in a blind, angry South. While truth-sayers remain a rare commodity in South Carolina and the South in general, it is still a blind, angry state and region, especially when it comes to Obamacare.
That’s what made the ruling of S.C. Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell so surprising when he cited procedural issues for striking down an amendment to a House bill that would have nullified the Affordable Care Act in South Carolina.
Left to vote on the original House bill, which made it a criminal offense for anyone attempting to implement the federal Affordable Care Act within the state, the Senate voted it down 33-9.
Maybe Petigru whispered in the ear of McConnell, a native of Charleston, before the ruling or maybe it has finally dawned on Columbia legislators that nullification doesn’t work.
We’ll have to wait and see.