States Rights... and Wrongs

04/22/2022

The United States of America! The USA!

Or is it...

Just Some of the United States of America... JSUSA?

or maybe

The Christian Theocratic United States of America... The CUSA?

When I was in the Marines, back in the day, I was taught that we were one unit committed to working as a team and helping each other. It was all for one and one for all, not; 'Hurray for me and fuck the rest of you.'

What is the United States of America? According to our Constitution, it is;

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Those words say it all. "We", "more perfect", "justice", "Tranquility", "common", "welfare", "Liberty". Now, let's look at the issue of States Rights; we'll start with the Tenth Amendment.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The Ninth Amendment comes into play here as well.

"The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

These two amendments would seem linked to me. The 9th says that nothing in the Constitution is chiseled in stone. "Rights (as defined in the original document) shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people (in the future)." In other words, in the future, the Constitution will change over time as the people see fit and as society and cultures change. That will require new language, often relating to things that never existed at the time of the writing of our Constitution.

That 9th amendment made possible the freeing of enslaved people, the end of child labor, the emancipation of women, and a host of other rights not spelled out in the original Constitution. That amendment also lays bare the specious arguments of many rigid Constitutional Originalists who insist that if it isn't in the original document, then it doesn't exist. There is no original anything; change and evolution are inevitable.

Now, to the 10th amendment. Those powers not delegated to the Federal Government by the Constitution... that language is understandable. Next, nor prohibited by it to the States... now things get a little sticky. This part indicates that the Federal Government may, over time, add to those powers of the central government that it held for itself and were not spelled out in the original Constitution.

Amending the Constitution has happened many times. There was no income tax at the beginning of our nation. Government funding was primarily through trade tariffs. Although the Civil War led to the creation of the first income tax in the U.S., the federal income tax as we know it today wasn't officially enacted until 1913. This is just one example of the Federal Government granting powers to itself that are required to function and for the country's good; states have no right to opt out. They can file suit against the Feds and make their argument in court to overturn a new law or regulation, but if they lose, then the federal law prevails.

A growing number of states, led by neoconservative Republicans and bolstered by radical groups like QAnon and the Proud Boys, are busy trying to strip away many of the constitutional rights granted to the citizens of this country over the last two centuries. They object to laws being applied nationally, primarily on religious grounds, and are based on a white supremacist philosophy that was the norm a hundred years ago.

The GOP is making it harder for minority groups to vote; they are attacking a woman's right to choose or reject motherhood; they are trying to prevent migrants from entering our country, primarily those from the south, mainly people of color and Hispanic origin. They want to roll back and block efforts to address air and water pollution. They opposed the federal government's efforts to save lives during the current pandemic by resiting mask mandates and FREE vaccinations that have saved millions of lives worldwide. They have opposed any form of universal healthcare; one would find it hard to choose a more humane and life-saving government program than free-to-low-cost health insurance and care.

At every turn, the GOP and the radical Republicans within that Party have tried to lay waste to our democracy in the name of states' rights. Imagine if the despicable Russian invasion of Ukraine goes sideways and our country ends up in a shooting war with Russia. Would states like Texas and Florida refuse to let their citizens answer the call to war, claiming states' rights as an excuse for not supporting our nation against an aggressor like Putin? Some issues cross state boundaries and affect all the people of the United States, not just in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, etc. States' rights cannot overrule federal law when it can affect people outside the state or conflict with existing federal law unless a court of law agrees the state law takes precedence over national law.

When any state's actions or the actions and decisions of the political leaders of states create a potential hazard for all the citizens of the United States, it is no longer a question of states' rights; it becomes a matter of "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union."

So, I ask again, are we;

The United States of America! The USA!

Or are we...

Just Some of the United States of America... JSUSA?

or maybe

The Christian Theocratic United States of America... The CTUSA?

We have the opportunity to answer that question by the way we vote in the November 2022 election.