Ernst, the Republican nominee for Senate in Iowa, made the comments at a forum at the 2013 Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition and were flagged by The Daily Beast on Monday.
"You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator, why should we pass laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws," Ernst said. "We're right…we've gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment's states' rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators —as senators or congressmen— that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line."
Of course, as the Daily Beast pointed out, states can't nullify federal laws.
Ernst's comments allude to a discredited argument that states can void federal laws that they disagree with. That argument was strongly supported by slavery advocate John C. Calhoun before the Civil War. It was also resurrected by segregationists in the 1950s and 1960s.
Recent polling has shown an increasingly tight race between Ernst and Democratic nominee Rep. Bruce Braley (IA).
Watch the video of Ernst below: