There are clear instances where the US federal government has long overstepped its role with regard to the states. The 10th Amendment is still part of the Constitution even if the big government people don’t like it. That is, those rights not expressly given to the federal government in the Constitution are then reserved to the States or the People.
That the acting Attorney General would assert such a thing (though he used the word “nullify” which was unfortunate), is sadly remarkable.
The role of the states has been diminished and power consolidated year after year by an insatiable federal government. But does such consolidation make sense? Shouldn’t the USA be less centralized as we get into the meat of the 21st Century? Shouldn’t government be closer to the people, particularly when the Constitution expressly says that it is supposed to be closer to the people?
There are those who don’t like that the USA is a collection of states. They would prefer the country be a unitary state with one set of laws as defined only by Washington. But that isn’t our system of government, though many over the years have tried to shoehorn this philosophy into our law.
“The federal government’s done a very good job about tying goodies to our compliance with federal programs, whether it’s the Department of Education, whether it’s Obamacare with its generous Medicare and Medicaid dollars and the like,” he added. “But do I believe in nullification? I think our founding fathers believed in nullification. There’s no doubt about that.”
Again the acting AG should not have used the words “nullification” if he meant that the states still have importance and some significant degree of sovereignty which is what he seems to be saying.
Some people are going to lose it over this. They believe that Washington (and New York) should run the show. For an Attorney General to assert that the imperial city(s) is limited in its power is going to annoy the self anointed in the northeastern corridor (and California) in the extreme. They will huff and haw and proclaim that Attorney General Whittaker is beyond the Pale, even though for the most part he’s just pointing out what the Constitution says.
Under the Constitution, properly understood, if California wants to go all nutbar-super-welfare-state it should be allowed to do so within the borders of the state. But if Wyoming wants to make government essentially invisible Wyoming is within its rights to do that also.
Of course the issue hanging off in the distance is the Civil Rights Act which was largely enforced by the federal government. Some people fear that if the 10th Amendment was actually embraced as it is supposed to be per the Constitution that states would then use their powers to impose things like segregation. This is an understandable concern and no one wants segregation is the country. As we go forward we need to figure out how to deal with this sticky and very important issue. People should not have to fear their government whether at the state or any level. Libertarian jurists need to think long and hard about how to deal with this important issue and there are many legal routes one can take. Tyranny on the local level can be as destructive as on the national level. Sometimes its worse. Now is the time to wrestle with these issues within the context of the 21st Century.