Lewis W. Diuguid

Challenges to federal laws resurrect states rights concern

Updated: 2013-05-11T23:38:05Z

By Lewis W. Diuguid

The Kansas City Star

A lot of states, including Kansas and Missouri, are doing their part to spur the economy and keep a lot of lawyers employed.

They are enacting questionable laws that conflict with the federal government’s. Ballot initiatives in Washington state and Colorado have legalized recreational use of marijuana even though smoking weed is still illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

A showdown is likely ahead with the Obama administration’s Justice Department and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg in the battle of state and federal lawyers.

States like Arizona passed immigration laws that conflict with the federal government and have led to court challenges. The push-back from Republican-dominated state legislatures is growing against the federal government and President Barack Obama, which promises to make the country’s first African American president’s second term at least as difficult as his first.

The issues include the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion, same-sex marriage, Common Core Standards for schools and the recent resistance to federal gun control in the aftermath of the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Al.com calls it “a new wave of nullification efforts sweeping across Alabama and other states.” It also surfaces as “states rights concerns.” Under nullification, states, not the U.S. Supreme Court, decide if a federal law is constitutional.

That mind-set is what led to the Civil War in the 19th century. Nullification surfaced in federal desegregation efforts in the 20th century and is being resurrected in many 21st century concerns.

Holder, as the nation’s first black attorney general is the highest ranking law enforcement officer, and Obama keep turning to the courts to get the unruly states to conform to federal laws. Let’s hope they comply.

Any show of force could once again threaten the Union.

To reach Lewis W. Diuguid, call 816-234-4723 or send email to ldiuguid@kcstar.com.

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