Federalism

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) »

Populism and the administrative state

Featured image Steve Bannon’s days as an influential player may be over. If so, what is his legacy? It’s not the election of President Trump. This was down to Trump himself, as the president likes to remind us. Nor is Bannon’s legacy hanging tough on “Billy Bush weekend,” though at times this seems to be what he is most proud of. And his legacy is not blowing a safe Senate seat in »

California Dreamin’

Featured image California has proclaimed itself a sanctuary state, in which public employees, including law enforcement, are directed to defy the nation’s immigration laws. At American Greatness, Michael Walsh writes that California Democrats have fired on Fort Sumter: Now California Democrats—as radical a group of anti-Americans as you will find in this country, whether legal or “undocumented”—have again fired on Fort Sumter. And once again (don’t kid yourselves), the goal is de »

The Senate health care bill: Yuval Levin’s take

Featured image Yuval Levin takes a close look at the Senate health care bill. He agrees with those of us who don’t consider it a repeal of Obamacare, Rather, like the House bill, the Senate version “addresses discrete problems with Obamacare within the framework it created, while pursuing some significant structural reforms to Medicaid.” Levin believes, as I do, that “the cause of good policy (almost regardless of your priorities in health »

Dubuque isn’t liking AFFH; neither will the rest of America

Featured image I wrote here about how the federal government, pursuant to its Affirmative Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) agenda, is forcing the city of Dubuque, Iowa to provide low-income housing to residents of Chicago. As in almost all of my writing about AFFH, I relied on the reporting of my friend Stanley Kurtz. In response to Kurtz’s article, Dubuque’s city manager stated that the article is “not an accurate representation of Dubuque’s »

AFFH-world comes to Iowa

Featured image In discussing the radical implications of President Obama’s “Affirmative Furthering Fair Housing” rule (AFFH), I typically point to what happened in Westchester County, New York as a sneak preview. But Stanley Kurtz directs our attention to an even more chilling example — Dubuque, Iowa. In Westchester County, Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development forced the local government to build low-income housing in an upscale community and to encourage people »

Thoughts on Oregon

Featured image Paul has offered a good account of the standoff under way in eastern Oregon, but everyone should take in the analysis of Randall O’Toole of the Cato Institute, an Oregon native with special expertise on forest and rangeland bureaucracy. Randall doesn’t think there are any good guys here: There are no good guys to cheer for in the militia takeover of an Oregon federal office building on January 2. The ostensible issue »