It’s not just for “ObamaCare” any longer: Perry wants to put a stop the TSA’s “enhanced pat-down” practice, by passing a state law making it a crime to conduct the investigation. This suggests to me that nullification isn’t, for Perry, a remedy for extreme situations. It’s a regular tool for maintaining the vertical balance of power in a federal system… and even more clearly unconstitutional than past plays. It’s basic, bedrock law that state officers cannot direct the activities of a federal officer.
Separately, it says a lot about where the Republican Party is today. The same kind of power play, by a Democrat during the Bush years, would’ve certainly provoked a “patriotic” backlash. Does Perry want the terrorists to win?! But since the face of the federal government has changed, so has the talking point. And, Perry has opted for an unconstitutional approach to effecting legal change, entirely bypassing a plausible claim… under the Fourth Amendment. This is about the strategic choices we make, and what it says about who we are. Spinning this as a “states’ rights” issue — and not a civil rights issue — says (1) he knows he’s going to lose but that (2) phrasing the argument in conservative rather than liberal terms is more important than winning. We can only hope that Perry runs for the presidency, to bring this, ah, “unique” brand of “leadership” to the federal level.