“Hey, SCOTUS! Just Say ‘NO’ To States’ Rights!”
June 27, 2012
No, that’s not sarcasm. You read that right, folks. The Supremes must say “No!” Because, honestly, if we cannot count on the highest court in the land to smack down this foolish notion of “states’ rights,” who can we count on?
Whether their jurisprudence touches immigration, health care, marriage, or whatever else, the High Court’s main job is to kneecap “states’ rights.”
Yet, based on what they did yesterday in US v Arizona, and fearing what will happen tomorrow with HarryCare, that job simply isn’t being done. In fact, SCOTUS (and the vast majority of the Federal judiciary) appear to be codifying “states’ rights,” whether through judicial fiat, almighty precedent, or intentional obtuseness.
I hear some in the peanut gallery now: “Bradley! After those statements, how can you claim to be a Federalist?!” Bear with me, kids.
This is *not* nuance. This is fundamental, and it goes to the very core of Federalist principle. States’ rights do not exist. Period.
Ask yourself: How can a state, which can be broadly defined as a body comprised of individuals numbering in the millions, claim to possess “rights?” Collective rights? Really? See the fallacy?
Rights can belong to no larger entity than an individual. Period. End of discussion. For something to be a “right,” it cannot demand anything from anyone, save abstention from violating said right.
Any governmental body, being an amalgam of people (note the plural), cannot possibly have “rights” conferred upon it. Only powers. Those powers, being voluntarily granted to said body of government, must further be specifically delineated. Why? To protect rights.
This “specific delineation” (or “enumeration”) prerequisite was not lost on the framers. Nor did they take lightly the task of listing these powers.
I’ve used the analogy on my radio show before, drawing the contrast between the Constitution and the “park rules” signs posted at every public park/playground.
The sign at the park gives a general common-sense outline of the manner in which the facilities and structures should be used. If the people who designed the park, or the structures contained therein, had been tasked with providing a detailed list of all the ways these accoutrements could possibly be abused, or used in an unsafe manner, and then made to proscribe all of those behaviors, the posted signs would cover the entire area.
Granted, without these very specific prohibitions on unsafe behavior, some punk kid will inevitably decide to engage in that behavior. That kid will also, invariably, utter words to the effect of “Well, the sign doesn’t say I can’t do this.” And, that miscreant would be correct.
Technically, if the sign doesn’t specifically prohibit said behavior, one can make the argument that it is allowable behavior. Not condoned, per se, but at least technically admissible.
But, the miscreants who infest our halls of jurisprudence would do well to remember that our Constitution is NOT a “park rules” sign. In fact, it’s the opposite.
The Constitution says, in plain English, “Here, Federal government, is your playground. On this playground, there are specific structures on which you can perform these select actions. And nothing more.”
Specific. Delineated. Limited.
If this sign doesn’t say you CAN do it, then you obviously CAN’T do it. Not “maybe can’t.” Not “probably can’t, except under special unforeseen circumstances.” CAN’T. Period.
Yet, we see a judicial pattern, do we not? Emanations. Penumbras. Intentional illiteracy.
This has culminated in an ugly, unpardonable pattern of applying “rights” to various bodies of government, and all at the expense of individuals.
Unless this fallacy is exposed, decried, and reversed, the erosion of individual liberty will continue apace, and with legislative sanction.
In US v Arizona, SCOTUS completely ignored Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 of the Constitution, which grants Congress specific powers.
Namely: “To establish an uniform rule of naturalization…” Only that? Yes. Why? See: Article 4, Section 4. But that’s another rant.
The larger point, here, is that SCOTUS should reject “states’ rights,” in all cases, and acknowledge only their powers.
Those powers are specific, and granted by right of the individuals who constituted those governmental bodies. But, a word of caution…
In doing so, SCOTUS, you must also reaffirm that the Federal government (Supremes included) also have no claim to “rights.” Only powers, specifically limited for the most noble reason: individual sovereignty.
Be consistent in that, for once, SCOTUS.