Something conservative states and liberal states agree on

Real ID act

Deep blue liberal states and deep red conservative states agree on at least one thing:  They don’t want the federal government messing with the driver’s licenses they issue.

A federal law requires that driver’s licenses may not be used for identification purposes unless they have certain security features and were issued after applicants proved their legal residency.  Unless states implement these “Real ID” features, residents will not be able to use their driver’s licenses to board aircraft or visit military installations.  The deadline is January.

Only 25 states have complied with the new law.  The other 25 have resisted.  Conservatives have always been leery of government IDs, thinking that they might be used to violate civil liberties.  Others resent the violation of federalism, with the federal government presuming to dictate to states about a matter traditionally under state jurisdiction.  Liberals don’t like the law either.  I suspect a main issue is that the requirement to prove legal residency would prevent illegal immigrants from getting licenses.

At any rate, if those states are still out of compliance, voters who are not allowed to get on a plane will not be happy.

Most states, such as my Oklahoma, are coming around, but they plan to have a two-tiered license system.  Drivers will be able to get either the regular state license or one that is Real ID compliant.  Which will add confusion, unintended consequences, and a de facto government ID along with scrutiny as to why a person has the other kind.

Does the fight against terrorism give the federal government a compelling reason to legislate in this matter?  Or is it another federal over-reach? [Read more…]

States can now stop funding Planned Parenthood

P1000741President Trump signed into law a measure passed by Congress that would allow states to deny certain government funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

Under President Obama, Title X “family-planning grants” to states could not be denied to organizations on the basis of whether or not they performed abortions.  Thus, federal money went to Planned Parenthood not for abortions–the Hyde Amendment forbids that–but to support their other activities (as if money were not fungible).

Now states can prevent abortion providers from receiving any of the money if they so choose.

Question:  Why are taxpayers funding Title X “family-planning grants” in the first place?  Can states refuse to take them? [Read more…]

The checks & balances of Federalism

scale-307346_640Obama’s executive orders and side-stepping of Congress provoked opposition from the states, whose attorney generals filed lawsuits against his administration.  Now, under President Trump, states with Democratic attorney generals are doing the same thing.

Those attorney generals went to the courts to stop President Trump’s first executive order on immigration, and now a group of states is trying to do the same to his revised order.

That may be annoying to Republicans, who did the same against Obamas’ executive orders, but it is an example of federalism reasserting itself against the dictates of the central government.

Charles Krauthammer says that whatever you think of the outcomes, this is a remarkable “organic” development of our constitutional system.  When Congress is not fulfilling its role to check and balance the Executive branch, the states are moving into that role. [Read more…]

Stoned federalism

The United States Constitution sets up a system of federalism, a union of states, each of which can have separate laws.  We are seeing some quirks of federalism today, as certain states legalize and commercialize what neighboring states treat as a serious crime.

Colorado is turning marijuana into a major industry and tourist attraction, while police from the states next door are filling their jails with people who have brought their purchases over the state line. [Read more…]

Split California into six states?

A measure that proposes to split California into six states–since the one has so much diversity that it is “ungovernable”–is actually making headway, with officials giving permission to start getting signatures on a petition to put it to a vote.  They only need just over 800,000 signatures.  I’d think they could get that in California.  The six states would be Silicon Valley, South California, West California, Central California, North California, and Jefferson (in the northernmost part of the state).

I’m curious about the constitutional ramifications of this project.  Can states just split apart like that, and if they do, would the U.S. Congress have to accept them into the union?   I guess secession is pretty much out of the question, thanks to the Civil War.  But if California were to split into six states, this would give the region 12 senators, probably from 8 to 10 of whom would be Democrats.  If this happens, Republicans might need to talk Texas into a similar division.

[Read more…]

No state ban on gay marriage has been upheld

A federal judge overturned Virginia’s state constitution that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.  The story, linked after the jump, points out that thus far federal judges have thrown out ALL state bans on gay marriage where the issue has been litigated.  The Supreme Court threw out the Defense of Marriage Act in part, it was said, because that imposes a federal law that prevents states from deciding what they want marriage to be, saying that such issues should be left up to the states.  But in reality, states are not allowed by federal courts to determine their marriage laws at all. [Read more…]