Sunday, May 03, 2009

It's crazy but it's true, I only want to be with you

(Damn, she could sing. Girl singers today: Study.)

Alberto Gonzales famously said the war on terrorism:
"renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

I think the modern world renders quaint some of the grandiose ideas of States' Rights:
The principle of the supremacy of federal powers over those powers held by the states is based on the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In McCulloch v. Maryland, Chief Justice John Marshall asserted that the laws adopted by the federal government, when exercising its constitutional powers, are generally paramount over any conflicting laws adopted by state governments. After McCulloch, the primary legal issues in this area concerned the scope of the Congress' constitutional powers, and whether the states possess certain powers to the exclusion of the federal government, even if the Constitution does not explicitly limit them to the States.

. . . In 1964, the issue of fair housing in California involved the boundary between state laws and federalism. California Proposition 14 overturned the Rumsford Fair Housing Act and allowed discrimination in any type of home sale. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others saw this as a backlash against civil rights. Actor Ronald Reagan gained popularity by supporting Proposition 14, and was later elected governor of California. The U.S. Supreme Court's Reitman v. Mulkey decision overturned Proposition 14 in 1967 in favor of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Another concern is the fact that on more than one occasion, the federal government has threatened to withhold highway funds from states which did not pass certain articles of legislation. Any state which lost highway funding for any extended period would face financial impoverishment, infrastructure collapse or both. Although the first such action (the enactment of a national speed limit) was directly related to highways and done in the face of a fuel shortage, most subsequent actions have had little or nothing to do with highways and have not been done in the face of any compelling national crisis. An example of this would be the federally mandated drinking age of 21. Critics of such actions feel that when the federal government does this they upset the traditional balance between the states and the federal government.

In today's OCRegister, Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman fantasizes about States' Rights and same-sex marriage:
Why not? Because of a huge imbalance created by that longtime nemesis of state sovereignty – the federal government. Under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Virginia has complete authority to deny the privileges and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex partners. But Iowa doesn't have the complete authority to grant them.

Oh, Iowa can provide recognition to gay marriages under all its laws and policies. But that's a surprisingly small part of what marriage encompasses. Under federal law, there are more than 1,100 rights and privileges that go with being a husband or wife. And none of them is available to married same-sex couples.

And then, schizophrenically, he lays blame for this state-variable situation, which he loves, on the awful DOMA:
"In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States," says DOMA, "the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."

While I agree that DOMA sucks hard, Chapman's blaming it for lousy state decisions is dishonest. He is a full-throated supporter of States' Rights. In his perfect world, CA could vote for same-sex marriage, while TX could legalize marriage between adult men and lizards. It's all OK if the state says so.

I really think the concept is outmoded. Much has been said about TX Gov. Rick Perry's call to secession, which is the ultimate expression of States' Rights. I think that's a fine idea, as long as TX is willing to never take another $$ from the American taxpayers. And since, like most of the red states, they take more in federal funds than they pay in taxes, that's going to stop too.

You fix your own highways, support your own schools, and protect your own border.

You coin your own money, print your own stamps, and clean up your own toxic waste sites.

You fund your own military, all your national park land, and take care of your own disasters.

Certain laws, like civil rights, had to be enacted at the federal level. Why? Because the states didn't. Too many reactionary politicians, along with ignorant populations, felt that equal rights were ok for them, but not for anyone else. So the feds took command.

Same-sex marriage is a similar situation. If states' want to discriminate against their citizens, then fine. Except they won't be states anymore. Like TX seems to want. Thing is, when federal dollars help me, it's my right. When they help someone else, it's socialism or tyranny.

Suck on it, states.