Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Full Faith And Credit
Ron Paul doesn't really get the Constitution and, like many folks in his party, doesn't get why we have a Federal government that's stronger than he likes. This enables him to engage in amazing cognitive dissonance, such as this set of proposals:
* Immediately saving lives by effectively repealing Roe v. Wade and preventing activist judges from interfering with state decisions on life by removing abortion from federal court jurisdiction through legislation modeled after his “We the People Act.” [here]
* Defining life as beginning at conception by passing a “Sanctity of Life Act.” [here]
So we'll stop the Feds from "interfering" with a state issue (this, BTW, is similar to Gingrich's ahistorical Constitutional bombast), then the Feds will, you know...define life for the states. I'm squinting really hard and I cannot see an enumerated Congressional power to define when life begins, so perhaps our dear Paulista friends can explain. If nothing else, that should be left to the states as well, eh?
The scariest thing about this wholly inconsistent "states' rights" stuff, beyond being a Lost Cause/Jim Crow dog whistle, is just how dangerous it is to liberty. It destroys equal protection under the 14th amendment and ignores a significant reason the Framers tossed out the Articles of Confederation in favor of our Constitution in the first place (hint: it involves forming some kind of Union). Folks like Paul seem to forget just what a disaster the Articles were and how our Republic was established with checks and balances not merely at the Federal level, but also between levels of government.
Paul's State Worship is both ignorant and frightening. This is what he had to say in 2003:
Consider the Lawrence case decided by the Supreme Court in June. The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment "right to privacy". Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states' rights – rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards.
It's an odd thing for an alleged libertarian, to whom even some self-professed progressives are attracted, to place the rights of the State above that of the individual. That's particularly odd when you consider the Ninth Amendment makes no mention of state's rights. This, of course, forms the basis for a decision that Lawrence's logic begins with. Griswold:
[S]pecific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance. See Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 516-522 (dissenting opinion). Various guarantees create zones of privacy. The right of association contained in the penumbra of the First Amendment is one, as we have seen. The Third Amendment, in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers "in any house" in time of peace without the consent of the owner, is another facet of that privacy. The Fourth Amendment explicitly affirms the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." The Fifth Amendment, in its Self-Incrimination Clause, enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to surrender to his detriment. The Ninth Amendment provides: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
Walking through a variety of other rulings, the Court then cited Casey:
These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.
Paul will obviously get no argument from me that anti-sodomy laws are ridiculous. But it's even more ridiculous to suggest that essential liberty is not protected by the Fourteenth Amendment and that the Federal government has no interest in checking State encroachment.
But the man has always had a problem with Federal protection of people against states, especially where homosexuality is concerned. For instance:
I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and must be protected. I supported the Defense of Marriage Act, which used Congress’ constitutional authority to define what other states have to recognize under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, to ensure that no state would be forced to recognize a same sex marriage license issued in another state.
Notice he acknowledges that Congress has the constitutional authority to define what must be recognized under FFCC. Thus it's a bit of a puzzle to me why Congress couldn't just as easily exercise that authority to require states to recognize any and all marriages from other states without being repugnant to the Constitution.
Nobody should have faith in the consistency Paul is often credited with, especially when it comes to gay rights.
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