Friday, October 15, 2010

States taking back the power

In my 17th Amendment Heresy post, Elmo Iscariot says:

Any solution involving states' rights also has to assume that the states will be _willing_ to stand up to the feds once they're able to. At the moment, that doesn't seem like a given

I wouldn’t be so sure of that. The states are making small, but important, moves to challenge federal supremacy in different areas. The various Firearms Freedom acts, while ultimately futile in the short term, are one warning message to the Feds, as are the Arizona anti-illegal-immigrants laws and the various state challenges to the Health Care Reform bill.

One of the most interesting, though, is the California ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. Despite a loss at the Supreme Court over the ability to decriminalize medical marijuana, the citizens of California have decided to continue on their course with Proposition 19. Eric Holder (appointed by President Obama, who, I seem to recall, campaigned on rolling back the War on (some) Drugs) threatens to continue to prosecute federal drug laws.

One state, even one as large and populous as California, can’t challenge the federal government. But California is not the only state liberalizing their marijuana laws. 20-odd years ago, Florida was seen as “just one state” in liberalizing their carry laws.

Rollback of federal supremacy won’t happen because the state governments want it; there’s too much federal money backing the states these days. It has to happen because the state voters want it; and are willing to vote for it. (Though Governor Christie’s rejection of the new rail tunnel despite federal funding shows promise as well – I have a post brewing on that topic).


  1. Fair enough. I'd love to see the present dissatisfaction with individual administrations mutate into a general change in the federal-law-as-first-resort mentality, but I'm afraid to get too optimistic. ;)

  2. As we know both to our joy and sorrow WRT gun rights, it's just plain EASIER to act at the federal level; a small determined minority can have effectiveness all out of proportion to numbers. Number help, of course


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