Federalism

The Great Sort Continues

Featured image Americans are sorting themselves into red and blue states. To be fair, though, the sort is mostly a one-way street: millions are leaving failing blue states and flocking to Florida, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, South Dakota, etc. As this realignment of population continues, states seem to be doubling down. California and New York edge farther to the left, while in Minnesota, my state, Democrats are proposing to increase personal income »

The Coming Crisis of Federalism

Featured image I probably should have given up making predictions after 2016, when I called the presidential election correctly. I don’t think I have gotten one right since then. But I do have one prediction for 2023 and years to come: I think the federalism issue—the relationship between the federal government and the states—will become the most vital question in our political life. Currently, we have at least two large states, Texas »

The Unalienable Right to Groom

Featured image The Biden administration has taken strong exception to Florida’s anti-grooming law, which requires that public school teachers wait until kids are in the fourth grade before inculcating them with LGBTQTrans ideology. Biden intends to fight for grooming to the last man nonbinary person: [T]he White House claims there will be federal intervention in opposition to the anti-grooming law. Moves for federal mediation include “monitoring” by the Department of Education and »

The COVID Ratchet Shows Up

Featured image As the COVID pandemic unfolded in 2020, I predicted that before it was over, we’d surely hear calls for a cabinet level “Department of Pandemic Planning” or some other equivalent of the Department of Homeland Security that we set up in the aftermath of 9/11 to “coordinate” government agency activity at all levels of government. That prediction has moved a step closer to fulfillment. From the New York Times today: »

Judge halts vaccine mandate for health workers in ten states

Featured image A Missouri federal judge, Matthew Schelp, has just issued an order temporarily blocking the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers in ten states. The states are Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. These are the states whose attorneys general filed the lawsuit in question. The mandate is now blocked in these states while litigation on the merits of the »

Biden commences his war on the suburbs

Featured image Joe Biden’s “infrastructure” bill isn’t about improving America’s roads, bridges, and other elements of our infrastructure. It’s about transforming America as radically as can be done through spending legislation. We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, that the legislation includes an attack on single-family zoning. Stanley Kurtz has the details. He begins by providing the context: With the introduction of his massive, $2.3 trillion “infrastructure” bill, President Biden’s campaign to end suburban »

A Modest Proposal to Help Drain the Swamp

Featured image Quite a few years ago, one of my law partners was prominent in the Democratic Party. This was the good old days, when most Democrats were mainstream Americans. He wrote an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, arguing that we should disperse federal agencies around the country rather than centralizing them in Washington. The Department of Agriculture might be in Des Moines, the FTC in Denver, the FDA in Charleston, »

Is Disunion In Our Future?

Featured image Until the last few months, the idea of disunion as anything but a historical relic had barely occurred to me. But lately, I have begun to wonder. Is there any basis on which we can share governance of America with people who hate our country and our traditions, institutions, culture and freedoms? Why, exactly, should we want to do so? Is there any set of shared assumptions and values that »

Common sense about states rights during a pandemic

Featured image Attorney General Barr went on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show yesterday. He discussed possible conflicts between federal law and what state governors are doing in response to the Wuhan coronavirus. Barr stated: Well, they can be in tension, and there are potentials for collision. I think you know, when a governor acts, obviously states have very broad police powers. When a governor acts, especially when a governor does something that intrudes »

“The man who would be king” is now “the buck passer in chief”

Featured image Yesterday, President Trump released federal guidelines regarding the reopening of the economy. Trump did not suggest a date by which the economy of the U.S. or of any state should be reopened. The guidelines call on state and local officials to make these decisions. Trump was wise to say these decisions should be made locally. First, he lacks the power to make them. ( The Washington Post says that Trump’s »

Different strokes for different states

Featured image As I discussed here, Washington state is seeing a slowing in the rate of new cases and deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus. However, many states are seeing increases in these rates, some dramatic. In Italy, there are marked differences between the north and south when it comes to data for the pandemic there. In a nation the size of the U.S., one would expect to see significant variation from area »

Maryland’s governor takes a shot at President Trump

Featured image If you’re the Republican governor of a state as “blue” as Maryland, it’s good politics to differentiate yourself from President Trump from time to time. Maryland’s governor Larry Hogan went so far as to consider running against in Trump in the GOP primaries. Fortunately, he had the good sense not to undertake a mission that quixotic. Now, Hogan is differentiating himself from Trump on responding to the Wuhan coronavirus. But »

Justin Trudeau—Illegitimate PM?

Featured image A few days ago I was on a panel disputing the subject of replacing the current electoral college method of selecting the president with the “national popular vote compact,” in which states adding up to more than 270 electoral votes would pledge to cast their electoral votes for the national popular vote winner, regardless of how any particular state’s voters may have come out. This effectively abolishes the electoral college. »

Our robed masters strike again

Featured image Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, decided that Virginia’s statutory scheme of regulating and prosecuting “habitual drunkards” is unconstitutionally vague and violates the Eighth Amendment rights of alcoholics. The vote was 8-7. All eight judges in the majority were nominated by Democratic presidents. One, Roger Gregory, was also nominated by a Republican. George W. Bush renominated Gregory, who wasn’t confirmed while Bill Clinton was president, as »

Kavanaugh sides with liberals, Roberts to duck Planned Parenthood related cases

Featured image The frenzy surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination — including, but hardly limited to, the weakly supported charge of sexual assault — obscured the fact that Kavanaugh was by no means the most conservative plausible candidate for elevation to the Supreme Court. In my view, Justice Kavanaugh was likely to be somewhere between Chief Justice Roberts and former Justice Scalia/Justice Alito on the ideological spectrum. That’s not a bad place to be, »

Uranium mining and states rights

Featured image Four decades ago a massive uranium deposit was discovered in southern Virginia. This gave rise to one of my first assignments as a lawyer in private practice. Various interests wanted badly to have the uranium mined, but environmentalists were dead set against it. Cissy Spacek, star of the film “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” attended a public hearing at which opposition was vehemently expressed. My job was two-fold. First, help identify a »

Supreme Court sports gambling decision is victory for federalism. What about sanctuary cities?

Featured image Today the Supreme Court ruled that a federal law barring states from legalizing sports betting violates the “anti-commandeering doctrine.” That doctrine is part of the Supreme Court’s federalism jurisprudence. It holds that the federal government cannot “commandeer” the states to enforce federal laws or policies. The decision was 7-2 on the core constitutional question of whether the federal law in question — the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) »