Thursday, May 12, 2011

When They Say States Rights You Know They Mean Mississippi

Seriously, this move by the GOP to allow states to basically opt out of any federal law they don’t like would be laughable were it not so scary. Didn’t we already fight this battle? Literally?

Anyway, what’s appalling to me is the hypocrisy. Republicans are all about “states rights” until a Blue State passes a law they or their corporate cronies don’t like, and then they’re all about repealing it, citing the supremacy of Federal law. But Mississippi could bring back Jim Crow and they'd be all like, "well, states rights!"

A few recent examples:

• In 2001, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft issues a directive effectively nullifying Oregon’s Death With Dignity Law, launching a series of lawsuits before getting smacked by the U.S. Supreme Court.

• In 2002, the Bush Administration joins auto manufacturers in suing the State of California over its Zero Emission Vehicle mandate. They argue that Federal law supersedes California state law, and so GM’s electric car program was killed. Until, of course, the sheer stupidity of our gas-guzzling ways came back to bite us on the ass. By which point the Japanese had already surpassed us in technology and manufacturing. Wow, way to go, folks! Really brilliant move!

• In 2005, the Republican-controlled Congress nullified a New York state vehicle liability law which had been on the books since 1924 by slipping a provision into the massive Federal transportation bill.

• In 2005, the Republican Congress passed a bill -- signed by George W. Bush -- keeping Terri Schiavo on life support and requiring a new inquiry into the entire Schiavo affair. Ah yes, one of Bill Frist’s finest moments. [/sarcasm]

• In February 2011, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted for tort reform. I love this one because the Democrats, all unanimously opposed to the measure, called them on their hypocrisy:
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) quipped that the Republicans had changed their tune on states’ rights within the span of a few hours, noting that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had told the panel earlier that the health care overhaul was unconstitutional because it includes an individual mandate requiring everyone to buy insurance.

In the afternoon, she said, Judiciary Committee Republicans argued that the federal government can impose its will about medical malpractice laws and “intrude on states’ rights.”

“You can’t have it both ways,” she said.

Of course they can! Because the rule of modern American politics is always, always IOKIYAR. For example, Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist Jay Bookman asked a logical question:

More importantly, where exactly in the Constitution does it say that Congress shall be empowered to dictate to state governments, state courts, state judges and state juries how they should handle state cases of alleged medical malpractice? What’s the source of that federal authority? I’ve looked in my handy pocket Constitution, and I can’t find such a provision anywhere. Under conservative legal theory, it certainly can’t be the commerce clause, given that the commerce involved is strictly intra-state, not interstate. Most people do not cross state lines to get medical care.

Curious, I went digging into the Congressional Record. Under new House rules, remember, sponsors are required to cite congressional authority for their proposed bill. And sure enough, on Jan. 24, the bill’s sponsor — a “Mr. Gingrey of Georgia” — cited the commerce clause as his authority.

Whoa! It most certainly was the commerce clause! The very same one rightwingers claim does not apply to healthcare reform, making the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.


Yes, of course they can have it both ways. They always do. Republicans will not be in power forever, nor will they have the majority of state legislatures forever. That’s just reality. And you can bet your sweet bippy that as soon as they get the White House back, or state legislatures turn left, they’ll all be walking back that states rights stuff so fast your head will spin.

I mean really, it’s just hard to take any of these people seriously about anything.