States’ Rights for Progressives?

Professor Heather Gerken of  Yale Law School wrote an interesting article called, A New Progressive Federalism for a journal called Democracy: A Journal of Ideas ,which was picked up by the Huffington Post.  The article makes a progressive argument for federalism.

The article makes several excellent points about the importance of state and local control, breaking away from the more nationalistic view which is held by many progressives.

One argument she made: dissenters can force an issue they feel passionately about on the local and state level, which in return forces it to become a national issue.  She used examples of Arizona passing their controversial immigration bill and San Francisco issuing gay marriage licenses.  She pointed out that in both cases, locals were frustrated by lack of action by the federal government on these issues, and by taking actions in their hands have made immigration and gay marriage national issues.

Gerken also addresses the problems in the past, where state rights was used as a means promoting racial inequality.  However, she points out how states rights can also be used in promoting racial equality.  As minorities gain control on the local and state level, they can help promote racial equality being in these positions.

On this point, she wrote:

Critical distinctions get lost when we treat these issues as debates about segregation versus integration. The most obvious is that these institutions may be different from the racial enclaves of Jim Crow. The less obvious is that, viewed through the lens of federalism, we might imagine these sites as opportunities for empowering racial minorities rather than oppressing them.

Gerken also addresses problems of both local and national rule:

It would be silly to argue that minority rule is without costs. But the model currently favored by progressives—a strong nationalist system—has costs as well, as the discussion above makes clear. (examples she cited in her article) Eliminating opportunities for local governance to protect racial minorities and dissenters also means eliminating the very sites where they are empowered to rule.

Pushing the point even more, she wrote:

It would be foolish to insist that every state and local policy must be progressive for progressives to favor federalism. Decentralization will produce policies that progressives adore, and it will produce policies that they loathe. The same, of course, is true of a national system.

This article is interesting read, I do agree with many of the points she made.  Since this published in a progressive journal and later picked up by The Huffington Post, I do hope more progressives will read it and consider her arguments.

However, there are some problems as well.  Gerken does a great job making the case that local rule must be considered, but I do sense an implication that she still favors a stronger federal government more so than most Tenthers could support.

Her suggestion that San Francisco’s  and Arizona’s efforts on their issues has made gay marriage and immigration national issues for which the Feds will need to act.  Tenthers here could ask, “Why?”


Moffat County, CO Passes an Anti-NDAA Resolution

Resolution to Preserve Habeas Corpus and Civil Liberties passed in Moffat County, Colorado

The resolution reasserts that the county officials have sworn an oath to the Constitution of the United States and it is their responsibility to maintain their oath which they will oppose any rules, laws, regulations, bill language, executive orders from an overreaching Federal Government which would effectively take our civil liberties.

Also, the resolution specifically cites sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act as mandates the county will not comply with the Federal Government. A key section of the resolution follows:

BE IT RESOLVED, the board of County Commissioners of Moffat County, Colorado, is in opposition to sections 1021 and 1021 of the United States National Defense Authorization Act, and does hereby support the Colorado Constitution and the Constitution of the United States of America and all the freedoms and guarantees as guaranteed by our Founding Fathers and as provided by the brave members of the armed forces.


Is This About Principle or Power?

cross-posted from the Texas Tenth Amendment Center

When George W. Bush was still president, I attended anti-war/anti-Bush rallies in protest of him and his polices.  A few years later, I did attend Tea Party rallies in protest of President Obama and much of his agenda.

For my efforts, Neo-Cons accused me of unpatriotic while Progressives have called me a racist.  Over the years, I have been called many things.  (And arguably, some of which may even be true!) However, I can assure you that I’m not an unpatriotic racist.

The problem is that the partisanship has expanded to extremes.  This isn’t just a phenomenon in Washington DC, but in the whole country:  Left vs. Right, Democrats vs. Republicans, Blue State vs. Red State, Tea Party vs. Occupy.

The media and many people have commented about how the right has moved away from the center.  In many ways, I agree with this assessment.  However one problem, those making this observation fail to see that left has moved from the center as well.

If I were to travel in a time machine and bring back a Republican and Democrat from the late 50s or early 60s, they would be very different from their modern counterparts. Both parties have complained about the party in power as the said party has expanded the role of the Federal Government while pushing their agendas.


Feds in on ‘Occupy’ evictions?

Recently, cities including New York, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City and Oakland cleared out their Occupy Wall Street protests from their encampments.  Beforehand, many cities participated in several conference calls with representatives from the Federal Government about ways to break up these protests

The Feds’ role during these discussions hasn’t been fully ascertained.  From their statements, they implied they were just giving advice and that it was a local matter.   These cities were advised by the Feds to seek out legal reasons to justify clearing out these protesters, such as  focusing on ordinances like curfew and zoning.

We don’t know who initiated the conference calls. We also don’t know what agencies participated in these calls or what was discussed.


Shall We Dance?

cross-posted from the Texas Tenth Amendment Center

One, two, three
One, two, three,
One, two, three


Barrack, I swear…  You must have two left feet.

Don’t snicker George, if Barrack has two left feet, you surely must have two right ones.

Again…  From the top…

The Constitutional Three Step…

One, two, three
One, two, three
One, two, three


I see with the dunderheads in this class, I will AGAIN have to explain these steps.  Now, Tom and James were such excellent dancers.  Will I ever have students like them again?


The State of Holland?

cross-posted from the Texas Tenth Amendment Center

In 1648, the Dutch earned their freedom from Spain. The amazing thing is that later this tiny country evolved into a major commercial empire. One reason, the Netherlands had for its time a lot of economic freedoms.

One example, the Dutch respected Freedom of Speech and allowed foreigners to come into their country to print books which were banned across Europe in order to keep them in circulation.

Much of that same spirit survives today with their lax rules on issues like drugs and prostitution. However, their membership with the European Union is restricting their freedoms. The EU and other nations are pressuring the Netherlands not to provide these goods and services to foreign guests visiting their country

We are often told while visiting a foreign nation, we should respect their laws and customs. I will never suggest to an individual while traveling to the Netherlands that they should do drugs or pay a prostitute for his/her services.

However, I do wonder where the United States has the authority to tell me that I can’t partake into these activities while legal there. Does a country have the authority to force their own laws on its citizens when they are not within their borders? The last time I checked, I don’t have a “Made In the USA” tattoo on my body