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Right Intention: Democrats and Federalism

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Democrats and Federalism

It really is interesting how Democrats have discovered federalism now that its clear they are on a serious national election losing streak. I go back and forth on federalism and believe different issues need different solutions at different levels. But the hypocrisy over the necessity of federalism, on both sides, is stunning. And predictible.

Liberals will look for their cover to the 10th Amendment, which states that powers not delegated to the national government by the US Constitution are reserved to the states, or to the people -- unless the Constitution clearly prohibits these powers.

As long as national government was moving in a progressive direction, which it has done steadily since the 1930s, the 10th Amendment meant nothing to liberals. It was more often the province of conservatives, who used it to advance a go-slow agenda on civil rights, reapportionment, affirmative action, government use and control of public lands, and various local police practices.

But now, we find Civil War era arguments for state sovereignty increasingly advanced to protect liberal initiatives from national government preemption. States' rights arguments are being made in defense of physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Medical use of marijuana is now framed as a states' rights issue, as are state regulations on HMOs and pharmaceutical pricing.

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