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Ray Haynes

Rediscovering States’ Rights

Democrats used to be the party of states’ rights. They used the principle to justify slavery and Jim Crow (they were always the party of racial division, except that back in the 19th Century and the first part of the 20th Century, their preferred race was white people), but at least they believed in states’ rights.’

I believe in states’ rights. I believe that states are sovereign entities, and, as the 10th Amendment says, “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.” In my time in the Legislature, I fought two specific federal mandates. The first, the federal government used to require states to treat alcoholics and drug addicts as disabled for the purpose of social security payments. What that meant in practice is, if the state didn’t want to pay social security payments to drug addicts and alcoholics, the federal government would cut off federal payments for ALL social security recipients, including seniors and the “really” disabled, like folks in wheel chairs.

I thought the state should have more control over its budget. Democrats said no–the fed say we have to do pay the money to the drug addicts, so we will. In 1996, the feds changed that rule in the welfare reform act signed by Bill Clinton.

Later, federal judges stepped in and required the state to let bad guys go because of prison overcrowding. Democrats did not authorize a single prison is over 10 years, and surprise, surprise, prison’s got overcrowded. Then federal judges intervened. I said fight them, the Dems said no, we have to follow the court order. We didn’t fight them, and the judges required the state to let bad guys go, and that suited the Dems just fine.

Try as I might, I can’t find anything in the Constitution that allows the feds to run state prisons, but I thought, hey, if judges exceeded their power, why not do so by requiring the state to build prisons (feds forced the state to spend money on alcoholics and drug addicts, why not on prison building?). Nope, didn’t happen, and I bet the Dems would have fought that one. So now, our crime rate is going up because of unconstitutional federal intervention. That was okay with the Dem leadership in Sacramento.

Now, the Dems are screaming about Trump’s immigration order? Welcome to the state’s rights fight. Once again, on the wrong side, but hey, glad you joined the party. Other problems with this fight? One does not have to look too far into the Constitution to find that one of the exclusive rights the Constitution grants to the federal government is immigration and border control. The fact that Obama didn’t want to exercise that power does not mean it didn’t exist (see Art. I, Sec. 8 “The Congress shall have the power … to establish a uniform rule of Naturalization”).

All that being said, I like to look for the good. States’ rights are a good thing to protect. Of course, one should read the Constitution before asserting the right. The Constitution does NOT grant the feds the power to spend state money (such as for social security for drug addicts and alcoholics) or the power to run state prisons, but it DOES grant the feds full power to control the border. But hey at least its a start, being wrong has never stopped the Dems from doing “less than intelligent” things in the past. Perhaps Governor Brown, President De Leon, and others are on the way to doing the right thing at some point, maybe some day they will stand up to the federal judges on the prison release program.

Until then, they are wrong constitutionally and on policy on President Trump’s order with regard to visas. To the extent they stand in the way of enforcement of that order, they are on shaky legal ground, and deserve whatever punishment the federal government chooses to impose for their failure to comply. It’s not as though they don’t know what it is, they just think that Trump doesn’t have the guts to do anything. I think they seriously underestimate his resolve to protect this country from those who would do it damage.