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ricksummon
09-21-2000, 08:01 PM
I'm concerned about the various underhanded tricks the federal government uses to usurp powers that are supposed to belong to the states. For instance, the federal government can't directly impose a drinking age on the nation. However, the government can pass a law saying that if your state doesn't make its drinking age 21, they won't get any highway funds. Now the apologists will say, "But it's the government's money!" But I say it's just legalized blackmail. Governments do have control over their money, but they shouldn't be allowed to use it to buy states' rights. The feds are also trying to suppress California because of their medical marijuana law. What do you think about this, folks?

tracer
09-21-2000, 08:18 PM
The only people who care about States' Rights any more are people who want to use it as an excuse to attack Federal policies they don't personally like.

When was the last time you pledged allegiance to your state flag, and to the commonwealth for which it stands?

ricksummon
09-21-2000, 08:27 PM
So, you believe the federal government should be allowed to pass whatever laws they want, whenever they want, without regard to the powers granted to them in the Constitution? Then why do we have state governments AT ALL? Why don't we just replace the state governors with federal agents?

ricksummon
09-21-2000, 08:34 PM
Oh, and by the way, tracer, what's your opinion on the following statements:

"The only people who care about the right to free speech any more are people who want to use it as an excuse to attack Federal policies they don't personally like."

"The only people who care about the right to own guns any more are people who want to use it as an excuse to gun down people in the streets whenever they want."

"The only people who care about the right to prevent illegal searches and seizures are people who have something to hide."

Please reply. I'm VERY interested.

barbitu8
09-21-2000, 08:54 PM
States rights is still a big issue, nearly as big as it was at the time of the Civil War. (Folks down here in the South don't call it the Civil War. They usually refer it to the War of Northern Aggression, or some such verbiage.) Of course that's a topic for another debate: was the Civil War caused by the issue of states' rights or by slavery? Again, Southerners insist it was caused by states' rights. I'm of the opinion it was caused primarily be one state right: the right to own slaves.

Anyway, I agree with you. It's a form of blackmail, esp. when federal funds' origin is we, the the taxpayers. They do it all the time. Reduce the maximum speed limit in your state to 55 mph or no highway funds, etc.

So what can we do about it? Damn little.

Guinastasia
09-21-2000, 10:19 PM
According to John Locke, a philosopher who influenced Jefferson, government has no rights-only responsibilities.


The War Against Northern Aggression-that title never falls to crack me up...

2sense
09-22-2000, 02:53 AM
tracer:

I also disagree with your post.
There are other reasons to champion states rights. Vested interests have a vested interest in dividing up authority to make the government weaker and thus less likely to enact the kind of meaningful egalitarian reform that could end their cushy existence.
They have no desire to see the playing field leveled.

OTOH- You make a good point about pledging allegiance.
Are we Americans or Californians, Michiganders, North Dakotans, etc?
-

BTW- I prefer the term "The War of Southern Regression".

sailor
09-22-2000, 03:13 AM
I cannot see why allegiance cannot be to many different things. Before allegiance to any country my allegiance would be to humanity and to what is right and ethical. If I was German in 1940 I would not support my country.

After that I would claim allegiance to many things, family, friends, town, workplace, State, Country... and even maybe several countries... I do not see any incompatibility.

I do think everything has its level so my family might have a say in things where the state has no say and viceversa. Things of the more local level belong to the State level and not the Federal level.

I can see some things could be changed.. for example I can see a national driver's license, it makes sense to me. I can also see matters like abortion might be left to the States.

Regarding the OP, namely that the feds use their power to put pressure on the states to do things that should be decided by the states, yes, it happens and I do not think it is wrong. It can work the other way around too. It can also happen at other levels. The US puts pressure on the UN and on other countries. I see nothing wrong with that.

2sense
09-22-2000, 03:28 AM
Hmmm.
I grant your point about various allegiances, sailer, but I don't see how allegiance to states accomplishes anything other than dividing Americans against each other.

2nd Law
09-22-2000, 03:37 AM
Those laws you refer to, like the drinking age/highway funds law, are passed by acts of Congress. And where do those Congressmen come from? They're elected at the state level.
Do you know how your U.S. senators and Congressman voted on that law?
The sovereignty of the states is what makes the federal Congress go through the highway fund cut-off threat to get many things done, such as the 55 mph speed limit of old and the drinking age, as no state is going to risk the loss of highway funds.
Heck, don't even get me started on the dormant commerce clause. Congress can use that to regulate virtually anything.
As for California's medical marijuana law, any state can decriminalize any controlled substance, but it could still be a federal crime to possess the substance. However, I doubt there would be many arrests if the arrests had to be made by federal agents rather than state law enforcement officers (which includes city police).

Akatsukami
09-22-2000, 08:34 AM
2nd Law writes: As for California's medical marijuana law, any state can decriminalize any controlled substance, but it could still be a federal crime to possess the substance.
But, isn't the Federal jurisdiction limited to certain areas (physical and conceptual)?

Jonathan Chance
09-22-2000, 09:01 AM
I prefer 'States War' myself.

As for allegiance. I enjoy being American. It's a good thing to be what we are.

That said, I'm PROUD to be a Virginian. I dearly love living here and frankly, the state government has done more for me and is more responsive to my needs than the feds have ever even TRIED to be. The same could be said for my county and city governments. (Thought with 100 people in Hillsboro the city government is really just whenever a couple of folks think something should get accomplished.)

Really, what does the federal government provide other than military defense that the states couldn't do if federal tax dollars were directed at them?

Just a thought. Not sure I buy it. But this is Great Debates after all.

lemartel
09-22-2000, 11:51 AM
I agree with the OP that it is blackmail. I think that the best arguement for states rights is that local governments are more likely to be responsive to its citizens. Also there is more flexibitlity in lawmaking to allow for regional differences. For example how much sense does it make for a low traffic state such as Montana to have the same speed limit as a high traffic state like New Jersey, or Alaska to have the same gun laws as New York.

ruadh
09-22-2000, 01:46 PM
And I agree with tracer that the "States' Rights" crowd is often using that as an excuse to do away with policies they don't like.

For example, the bill to ban "partial-birth abortion". Many of the same people who claim to be for states' rights supported it - despite the fact that as the law currently stands, states can decide for themselves how to regulate late-term abortions.

The marijuana issue is another one. When the federal government decided its anti-drug laws trumped California's medical marijuana law, where were all of the Congressional conservative Republicans who always whine about states' rights? Awfully quiet so they were.

2nd Law
09-23-2000, 12:47 AM
Originally posted by Akatsukami
But, isn't the Federal jurisdiction limited to certain areas (physical and conceptual)?
That's true. It's limited to the boundaries of the United States.

MysterEcks
09-23-2000, 02:37 AM
Let me point out that there is no such thing as "states' rights." Neither states nor the federal government have rights--peoplehave rights. Governments have authority, which in our system is limited. Yes, the use of highway funds and such to force states to follow federal desires is blackmail, but there doesn't seem to be anything unconstitutional about it. The remedy is to work to vote politicians who support this out of office.

tracer said:

The only people who care about States' Rights any more are people who want to use it as an excuse to attack Federal policies they don't personally like.

Essentially true, but it works the other way too--those who prefer federal power are those who want to impose their policies on states where they otherwise couldn't.

ruadh said:

The marijuana issue is another one. When the federal government decided its anti-drug laws trumped California's medical marijuana law, where were all of the Congressional conservative Republicans who always whine about states' rights? Awfully quiet so they were.

Conservatives support state power...provided the states are going to follow the conservative agenda. Liberals support federal power...provided the feds are going to follow the liberal agenda. If you're looking for consistency, you're looking at the wrong profession.

capacitor
09-23-2000, 02:52 AM
These states' rights people they seem to only want their agenda, even bad laws they propose, to be passed with impunity from federal scrutiny. Usually, it has to do with cutting aid to immigrants, lowering standards to pre-natal care, and the like.
What about the bill (http://www.cspinet.org/new/fs_lawsvoid.html) proposed in Senate and a similar one in the house that would abolish state food laws, some of which are more strigent and consumer-friendly, for a more uniform federal system, which experts say could be much more lenient to foodmakers. State-righters, put up here and rant against these turn of events.

Jonathan Chance
09-23-2000, 04:28 PM
Perhaps 'state's rights' is the wrong wording. Maybe 'local governance' is better?

As I said before my county government serves me better than the state government and my state government serves me better than the federal government. With that in mind am I crazy to want more local governance than non-local governance?

I can understand the desire of the federal government (and it's proponents) to ensure standards across the states but I've always held the opinion that it is near impossible to find standards that apply equally across 50 states and some-odd number of territories/colonies/what have you and not have them conflict with what's best for most regions. Isn't it likely that we end up with 'lowest common denominator' policies rather than policies customized for a region and population?

Also, consider the opportunity cost of restricting state and county attempts to create policy. Instead of 50 (states) or a ka-jillion (counties) different attempts to establish workable solutions to problems (most failing and few working, I grant you) we are left with one approach at a time being attempted. Doesn't our centralization of 'problem solving' (forgive me, I can't think of a better phrase) lead us to deal with them in series rather than in parallel?

I'm really interested in debating this so let me know what you all think.

Akatsukami
09-23-2000, 09:04 PM
Originally posted by 2nd Law
Originally posted by Akatsukami
But, isn't the Federal jurisdiction limited to certain areas (physical and conceptual)?
That's true. It's limited to the boundaries of the United States.
Oh? I was under the impression that Article I, Section 8 limited it quite a bit more than that, the Elastic Clause notwithstanding.

barbitu8
09-25-2000, 06:16 AM
Originally posted by MysterEcks
Let me point out that there is no such thing as "states' rights." Neither states nor the federal government have rights--peoplehave rights. Governments have authority, which in our system is limited.

A pure technical point, the states have the right to have the authority not specifically delegated to the federal gvt. (10th Amendment)

Actually, the authority of the US gvt is not limited to the physical boundaries of the country. It asserts its authority to at least 3 miles in the sea.

2nd Law
09-25-2000, 03:32 PM
Originally posted by Akatsukami
Oh? I was under the impression that Article I, Section 8 limited it quite a bit more than that, the Elastic Clause notwithstanding.

Well, I was referring to geographic jurisdictional limitations. As for substance matter, Art. I, sec. 8 does set forth limitations, but what I gathered in my meager education was that one way or another Congress can pass legislation on pretty much anything, regulatory legislation usually falling under the Commerce clause.

tracer
09-25-2000, 03:47 PM
ricksummon wrote:

Oh, and by the way, tracer, what's your opinion on the following statements:

"The only people who care about the right to free speech any more are people who want to use it as an excuse to attack Federal policies they don't personally like."

My opinion on that statement is that it's false. Free speech is a specific personal right. "States Rights" are neither personal nor specific.

"The only people who care about the right to own guns any more are people who want to use it as an excuse to gun down people in the streets whenever they want."

"The only people who care about the right to prevent illegal searches and seizures are people who have something to hide."

Also, obviously false. Your implied analogy between these statements and mine is flawed. These are all statements about personal rights. States Rights are anything but personal.

ricksummon
09-25-2000, 05:55 PM
Tracer, I think that you're just fixating on the word "rights." It's true that government doesn't have rights, only powers. But when we speak of "states' rights," we mean "powers that belong to the state governments instead of the federal government." The Constitution was written by people who wanted a compromise between a strong federal government and strong state governments, so they limited the powers of the federal government and granted all other powers to the states. If states have no "rights," then why are there state laws, state legislatures, state police, state governors, etc.? Why doesn't the federal government just appoint federal governors for each state? Why aren't all policemen FBI agents? Because the authors of the Constitution believed that the people of each state should be able to decide some things for themselves without interference from other states, i.e. the federal government. Let's get back to my drinking age example. If states have no "rights," then why can't the feds just impose a drinking age on the US directly? Answer: because that would be unconstitutional. Therefore, the feds need to use a loophole tactic such as highway funds to beat the system and get the same result. I say that using the letter of the law to violate the spirit of the law in this fashion should not be allowed. THAT'S what I mean by "states' rights."

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
09-25-2000, 07:23 PM
In a way the medical marijuana issue turns the original conception of states' rights on its head. Slavery, and later discrimination, were prohibited by law, I think mainly because they flouted deeply cherished notions of
fairness in a free society. True, we had to evolve, and still must evolve further before this ideal is fully realized, but it's still safe to say that our present abhorrence of discrimination and slavery is firmly rooted
in our notion of what a democratic republic should be.

With medical marijuana I can find no valid reason why the federal government should have the right to trump a state law. Certainly there is no constitutional basis for it, unless you want to argue that the majority public believes that we can achieve a 'more perfect union' and foster 'domestic tranquility' only by prohibiting marijuana use under any circumstances. And sure enough, anti-drug rhetoric casts the great non-drug-using majority as victims
whenever someone lights up a joint--surely the greatest class of victims ever conceived in this age of eager victimhood.

Oh well, I'm getting down from my soapbox...just wanted to put my $.02 in.

pkbites
09-25-2000, 09:52 PM
could go to the supreme court armed with the 10th amendment amd kick Uncle Shams ass! I think alot of federal mandates are illegal. For example: The fed cannot tell states what their drinking age can be, but the can get them to change it using highway funds? That should be illegal because the RESULT is the same in either case. A competent attorney general could make a good arguement that it's the RESULT itself that is unconstitutional, therefore anyway the result is obtained is also unconstitutional! On the state level we need to start electing pissed off rebels instead of fancy pants lawyers before this case ever comes up!

Wisconsin used to have a 70mph limit on most highways and a drinking age of 18. There is no way that would have changed without the feds steping in and thwarting the will of the locals!

MysterEcks
09-26-2000, 02:18 AM
barbitu8 said:

A pure technical point, the states have the right to have the authority not specifically delegated to the federal gvt. (10th Amendment)

No, actually, they don't. The 10th Amendment reads:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. [Underscoring added.]

You will first note that the amendment speaks of "powers" rather than "rights"--or, in speaking of government, "authority." I would define "authority" or "power" as the ability to do something; "right" I would define as protection against something. I have the rightto freedom of speech, in that the government can't prevent me from expressing my political opinions; I may or may not have the powerto do so in any effective way.

Second, the amendment doesn't necessarily grant anyauthority to state govenments. It just says that if the feds don't have authority over a certain matter, then somebody else does--the states, or the people as a whole. Any state authority must presumably be derived because the people of that state consented, no? For that matter, you could make an argument that the people of the country as a whole can assign their powers to the federal govenment, rather than the states. (I wouldn't make such an argument myself, since I think the federal govenment is a bloated monstrocity that needs curbed, but that doesn't mean it can't be made.)

As for pkbites' point...the quick answer is that it wouldn't work. Take the example of highway funding used to blackmail states into following federal policy--once you conceed that the feds can tax at the levels they do, and that they can distribute money to states for whatever reason (both points could probably be debated, but this isn't really the thread for it), you've lost. There is nothing in the 10th Amendment, or any other part of the Constitution, that prohibits Congress from making any conditions they like for receiving money. They are not directly imposing speed limits, or drinking ages, or what have you; the states are doing that. Constitutionally, it doesn't matter whythe states do it; the point is that they're the ones doing it. The states don't have to cooperate--they could tell the feds to go to hell. (In fact, I seem to recall that one of them did that for awhile--Colorado?) There is a choice--not a good one, but a choice--which the states can make.

Thus, no one is going to "kick Uncle Shams['] ass" on the subject. Better to concentrate, as I said before, in voting the bastards out and inserting a set of bastards who will obey the spirit of separation of powers.

barbitu8
09-26-2000, 09:39 AM
You're using the words "power" and "authority" as synonyms, which they are not. I have the power to break a contract, but not the authority. Similarly, when I said that the states have the right to have the authority granted by the 10th amendment, I should have said they have the right to have the power (which is the word used in the Const), which is what they have. The 10th Amend gives the states the authority to deal with matters not specifically delegated to the fed gvt.

pkbites
09-26-2000, 04:28 PM
The state that rebeled (though briefly, for one day I believe) was Nevada. In 1985 or 1986 (not sure which) the state posted 70 on their freeways. The feds followed through with withholding funds but this lasted for only 1 day: The state took down the signs and filed a suit against Uncle. Don't know what happened from there on, but states are now allowed to set their own limits......hmmmm. Makes you think.

Badtz Maru
09-26-2000, 06:27 PM
Someone PLEASE give me control of a state, any state...

I think if a state allowed certain freedoms they could make up more than enough money to make up for what the feds were withholding. For instance, if a state repealed their laws prohibiting marijuana sales and put a stout tax on them they would probably make a lot of money from tourists. What could the federal government do then?

tracer
09-27-2000, 07:50 PM
pkbites wrote:

The state that rebeled (though briefly, for one day I believe) was Nevada. In 1985 or 1986 (not sure which) the state posted 70 on their freeways. The feds followed through with withholding funds but this lasted for only 1 day: The state took down the signs and filed a suit against Uncle. Don't know what happened from there on, but states are now allowed to set their own limits......hmmmm. Makes you think.

The States are now allowed to set their own speed limits because Congress removed the speed-limit requirements from its highway fund grants, not because any Federal courts threw out the speed-limit requirements as unconstitutional.

tracer
09-27-2000, 07:56 PM
Badtz Maru wrote:

if a state repealed their laws prohibiting marijuana sales and put a stout tax on them they would probably make a lot of money from tourists. What could the federal government do then?

What could the Federal government do? This:

"Be it hereby enacted by the Congress of the United States that:
1. Each State shall pay a tax of one billion zillion hillion jillion dollars to the United States each year.
2. Each State that prohibits marijuana shall receive a Federal grant of one billion zillion hillion jillion dollars per year."

Who needs the Interstate Commerce Clause when you can just tax the states into submission? In a way, that's how the Federal government got the states to enact a 55 mile per hour speed limit.

MysterEcks
09-29-2000, 01:55 AM
barbitu8 said:

You're using the words "power" and "authority" as synonyms, which they are not. I have the power to break a contract, but not the authority.

No, actually I'm not. The difference between "power" and "authority" is the difference between "can" and "may"--authority is authorized. The federal government has virtually unlimited power--they control the armed forces, after all, so only armed resistance would be a check. Its authority, however, is limited by the Constitution. (I don't know when this distinction came about--perhaps after 1787--but in any case the 10th Amendment is clearly talking about authority, regardless of its use of the word "powers.")

Incidentally, the analogy to contract law doesn't work--as a general rule, there is no law preventing you from breaking a contract, which means you do indeed have the authority to do so. You may well get sued for it and have to pay damages, but that doesn't mean you may not do it.

The 10th Amend gives the states the authority to deal with matters not specifically delegated to the fed gvt.

You are ignoring the wording of the 10th Amendment, which I posted before, and its potential implications. My point is that it doesn't have to be interpreted that way.

pkbites said:

The state that rebeled (though briefly, for one day I believe) was Nevada. In 1985 or 1986 (not sure which) the state posted 70 on their freeways.

I'm thinking there was one which refused to raise its drinking age for a period of time, too. (Yeah, I know, I should figuratively get off my lazy ass and research it.)

barbitu8
09-29-2000, 08:57 AM
Originally posted by MysterEcks
[b]barbitu8 said:

[quote]You're using the words "power" and "authority" as synonyms, which they are not. I have the power to break a contract, but not the authority.

No, actually I'm not. The difference between "power" and "authority" is the difference between "can" and "may"--authority is authorized. The federal government has virtually unlimited power--they control the armed forces, after all, so only armed resistance would be a check. Its authority, however, is limited by the Constitution. (I don't know when this distinction came about--perhaps after 1787--but in any case the 10th Amendment is clearly talking about authority, regardless of its use of the word "powers.")

Incidentally, the analogy to contract law doesn't work--as a general rule, there is no law preventing you from breaking a contract, which means you do indeed have the authority to do so. You may well get sued for it and have to pay damages, but that doesn't mean you may not do it.

I refuse to yield on this point. As to the contract, there are civil laws and criminal laws. Altho you won't be criminally liable for breaking a contract, you can be civilly liable. There ae laws governing a contract and they are under the classification "contract law."

It's not just the difference between "can" and "may." Sure the fed gvt has unlimited power as they control the military. That's just my point. It's authority is not limited by the Const., it's granted by it. The Const. states what powers will be allowed or granted to the fedl gvt, and those powers not specifically allowed are reserved to the states. Powers that are granted is authority.

barbitu8
09-29-2000, 09:28 AM
Upon re-reading your post, it seems that we basically agree, that power and authority are not synonymous. The analogy between "can" and "may" seems correct. However, the right to have the power is the authority. Thus, the fedl gvt has rights, and so do the states. My reference to a contract is correct.

MysterEcks
09-30-2000, 01:29 AM
barbitu8 said:

As to the contract, there are civil laws and criminal laws. Altho you won't be criminally liable for breaking a contract, you can be civilly liable. There ae laws governing a contract and they are under the classification "contract law."

Yeah, I know--I had contract law in law school and everything. Breach of contract is not prohibited by law. Civil liability is not a punishment--it is a way of making the aggrieved party whole monetarily. It is a price to pay for not performing a contract as agreed, but that does not make it a prohibition. The analogy is therefore notcorrect.

It's authority is not limited by the Const., it's granted by it.

I would put it that the federal government was prohibited from exercising powers--a limitation--that in the experience of the Founding Fathers had been exercised by (or in the name of) the British monarch and/or Parliament. But I come at this from an anti-centralization viewpoint--it is easier to decide that additional powers have been constructively ceeded to the feds than it is to find a prohibition has been somehow waived. Or so I believe, anyway.

However, the right to have the power is the authority.

I suppose it could be defined that way, whether I like it or not. I still prefer the distinctions I have made, since otherwise you have to make a further statement--governments have rights vis a vis themselves. Otherwise the formulation makes it sound as if governments have rights in terms of their own citizens, which I don't believe they do--in our system they are creatures of the people rather than independent entities. (Hence the titling of criminal cases "People versus _____" in some jurisdictions.) That's how it's supposed to work, anyway--granted that reality and theory don't always mesh.

Not that any of this really has much bearing upon the OP. I still say the only remedy is to work to elect politicians at the federal level who aren't all hot to use the loopholes to blackmail states into following federal paternalism.

pkbites
09-30-2000, 02:37 AM
I'm thinking that the feds raised the speed limit from 55 to 65 in 1987 because they might have felt the states might win a case against them and threw them a 10mph bone. The total national speed limit was repealed in 1995 by a Republican congress. An act Democrats refused to do for 22 years, but will take the credit for because Mr. Bill signed it! :rolleyes:

pantom
10-01-2000, 08:32 PM
The first three words of the Constitution are "We the people" for a reason: it was a direct repudiation of states' rights as enshrined in its predecessor, the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution is a compact between the people of the US, not the states. A very important distinction. (Which is probably why the 10th Amendment reads the way it does, as pointed out by MysterEcks.)
As for highway funding: For some reason, as time has marched on, the states have ceded to the Feds the right to fund just about anything, no matter how local the concern is.
Roads used to be a strictly local concern. Eisenhower built up the interstate highway system as a way of getting military supplies moved quickly around the country. It has morphed into a program that the states use to build roads that they should be building themselves with their own state money. If this hadn't happened, the threat alluded to in the OP would be empty.
Which, by the way, means you're more than likely quite wrong, pkbites. The Feds didn't have to throw the states a bone because Federal money built the roads and they remain Federal roads forever after. So only the Federal government gets to set the standards on those roads.