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The Fallacies of States' Rights
: Federal government— United States, States’ rights (American politics), United States— Politics and government— Philosophy
: Harvard University Press
: 2013
Call Number
: ebook 279
Ringkasan :
The states’ rights debate is America’s oldest constitutional debate. Every issue in the campaign to ratify the Constitution was connected to the question of the future of the states in the proposed federal union. Re sis tance to national power in the name of states’ rights brought the nation close to civil war on two occasions before fi ring started on Fort Sumter in 1861. Fearing that the Civil War Amendments to the Constitution would “fetter and degrade the State governments,” the Supreme Court nullifi ed all but the amendments’ minimal promise for generations after the war. The scope of national power relative to the states was a major part of the confl icts of the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Expressing concern for the states’ traditional control of the public schools, the Supreme Court abandoned the promise of equal educational opportunity less than two de cades after the desegregation decision in 1954. Claims of “states’ rights” have played an important role in opposition to the Court’s decisions on school prayer, the treatment of criminal defendants, abortion, and gay rights. “States’ rights” was a battle cry of the strategy that transformed the Republican Party from the party of Lincoln to the party of Reagan. A dramatic if limited return to states’ rights was the signature achievement of the Rehnquist Court. At this writing states’ rights is the battle cry against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“Obamacare”). And though it has no real connection to states’ rights, something called “competitive federalism” is part of the present campaign of corporate forces to deregulate the nation’s economic life. Yet in most of these cases observers could wonder whether states’ rights was the most important issue. Did Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton disagree mostly over states rights or over the merits of an urbanindustrial order? Was the Civil War fought for states’ rights or for slavery? Do pro- life forces oppose Roe v. Wade for taking an issue from the states or for legalizing abortion? Are opponents of the federal minimum wage indifferent to state minimum wages? Would critics of “Obamacare” remain silent if the states enacted similar mea sures? Behind these questions is a larger question of whether anything general can be said about what is really at stake in the federalism debate. If there is a bigger issue behind the federalism debate, what might it be? And if the federalism debate is a mask or a proxy for other issues, is anyone really interested in federalism or states’ rights?

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