On Raich, Republicrats Agree: Federalism Rocks

Well, it’s been long enough since the verdict was passed down from the Supremes to see how the left and right are taking this case, and it looks like some big players on both sides are keeping mum for the most part.

Well, except a few like Matthew Yglesias, the “moderate liberal” who agrees with the verdict on anti-federalist grounds, as pointed out by The Antagonist:

Well, no, he’s wrong in that he thinks this is a bad thing, but he’s right that the important issue here was the federalism one, not the medical marijuana one. Sympathetic as one might be to the defendants in this case, a victory for their side could have led to very bad consequences down the road. Advocates of marijuana law reform are welcome to press their point of view in congress [sic].

I’ll let Radley Balko’s analysis of this statement stand:

And there it is. The prominent writer for the “moderately liberal” American Prospect would rather let sick people suffer and die and side with giving ever more power to the Bush administration than give an inch toward letting states of localities govern themselves. Because, apparently, should his side ever get power again, Yglesias wants to be sure he can impose his policies on the rest of us. And siding with sick people now might hamper his ability to slap high taxes, heavy regulations, and liberal utopia on red staters later.

As Thomas noted in his dissent, if government agents can raid a woman’s house and arrest her for six marijuana plants she was growing for her own use, there is simply no limit to what else it can do. Enumerated powers are meaningless. And that’s exactly what people like Yglesias want. Eradication of enumerated powers, federalism, and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Complete authoritarian federal control over everything. States may as well not exist.

And there you have what is essentially the problem with both the left and the right. They both nakedly want to consolidate power into the federal government, and fuck state’s rights and the voters who put their own initiatives on the ballot.

As libertarians, we couldn’t have been handed a more perfect verdict and case in which to point at and say: “See? We told you these fuckers had the same agenda.”

As a side item, I was happy to see the Libertarian Party issued this press release:

Libertarian Party Executive Director Joe Seehusen stated, “This ruling is not only a blow to the elderly, sick and terminally ill, but also represents the further decline of states’ rights.” Mr. Seehusen continued, “It is important that the American public does not minimize this issue by believing that it only affects ‘pot smokers’ as it is a much deeper debate involving the intrusion of the federal government upon the states, the power of the prescription drug lobby, and the growing limits on individual freedom.“ [emphasis added]

I promptly sent an email back with a couple general suggestions to get the LP to gear up and go to the mat with this issue, and for them to send out another email asking for donations to defend the state’s rights issue and getting activists involved. Shane Cory, who I believe is the replacement Communications Director for George Getz, emailed me back with a phone number and express interest. As a political operative as well as an opinion-monger, I’d love to be able to catapult the LP front and center with and issue like this that is a huge beach ball hovering over our home plate.

UPDATE: I’m compiling the libertarian talking points for the Ashcroft (Gonzales) vs Raich verdict. If you have any to contribute (one liners that could be used in commercials or in interviews) please post them in the comments.

UPDATE 2: Libby points out the silver lining that libertarians can be glad about in this decision:

States are still free to legislate on their own and to refuse to prosecute sick people. The decision doesn’t compel the feds to persecute the sick, it simply failed to prevent them from doing so. They no doubt will continue on their campaign against society’s most vulnerable citizens, but they will have to face a growing public discontent with the policy and that’s the silver lining in this. It brings the debate into the public arena in a way we haven’t been able to do with ordinary legislation.

UPDATE 3 (APOLOGIES TO TRUE CONSERVATIVES): It looks like it’s more liberals than conservatives who are backing the Commerce Clause, as pointed out by Hit & Run. To all the Republicans who are sticking to their conservative, small-government, guns: Kudos to you. Thanks to Tom Hanna for setting things straight in the comments. I’m not convinced that Republicans in Congress share the views of the pundits right now, though time will tell if they propose legislation to fix this judicial faux pas.

» Raich v. Ashcroft [TPMCafe]
» Raich and the Left [The Antagonist]
» Why the Government will Win in Raich [federalism.typepad.com]
» Libertarian Party Condemns the Supreme Court Decision Against the use of Medical Marijuana [LP.org]
» More Raich Reaction [Last One Speaks]

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

1 Comment
  1. Perhaps you ought to listen to more talk radio. Rush Limbaugh, who certainly qualifies as part of the “right”, has been trashing the opinion. Every conservative of any stature that I’ve heard or seen comment from has agreed, ironically given the title of your post, that this was the final death knell of federalism.