Is It Ever Right for States to Disobey a Federal Court Ruling?

Some liberal governors are threatening to disobey laws that may be passed restricting certain liberal policies like immigration, drugs, and abortion. Good for them on the principle.

What if a federal court ruled that gun ownership is no longer permitted in the United States and all guns must be confiscated? Should the states comply and go on a gun confiscation program?

You and I know that it was morally right for states to outlaw slavery even if the national government had mandated the practice.

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I was watching the 1961 film Judgment at Nuremberg some time ago. It stars many well-known actors of the era: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, Werner Klemperer, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, William Shatner, and Montgomery Clift.

It’s a powerful film that deals with events related “principally to actions committed by the German state against its own racial, social, religious, and eugenic groupings within its borders ‘in the name of the law.’”

“Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) is the Chief Trial Judge of a three-judge panel that will hear and decide the case against the defendants. Haywood begins his examination by trying to learn how the defendant Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) could have sentenced so many people to death.”

What reason did the defendants give for their actions? They were only following orders.

Adolf Eichmann: “I cannot recognize the verdict of guilty… It was my misfortune to become entangled in these atrocities. But these misdeeds did not happen according to my wishes. It was not my wish to slay people… Once again I would stress that I am guilty of having been obedient, having subordinated myself to my official duties and the obligations of war service and my oath of allegiance and my oath of office, and in addition, once the war started, there was also martial law… I did not persecute Jews with avidity and passion. That is what the government did… At that time obedience was demanded, just as in the future it will also be demanded of the subordinate.”

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