Sunday, March 05, 2006

You can Carry a Gun; You Can't Marry A Gay or Label Your Food

In the hypocrisy hall of fame, American attitudes towards "states' rights" occupy one of the places of honor. I was going to say "Republican attitudes" but frankly, liberals have pretty mixed records on this as well; people with well-considered and consistent positions on the matter are pretty rare on both sides. No, I don't include hard-core "states' rights" neo-secessionists as "well-considered" any more than I do the "abolish the states/federalize everything" busybodies. Personally, I think the commerce clause is pretty thin basis for our current level of federalization, but that it's irrational to consider only commerce as a matter where national consistency is worth overriding local particularism.

So, in the "amazing but not surprising" category comes two new Republican initiatives (they're in power, so their hypocrisy is most obvious) to obliterate states' rights with regard to safety issues. The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Bill would require the same treatment of concealed carry gun permits as of drivers' licenses: "full faith and credit" overriding local laws about whether and to whom concealed carry permits should be issued.
In states that issue concealed firearm permits, a state`s laws governing where concealed firearms may be carried would apply within its own borders. In states that do not issue carry permits, a federal "bright-line" standard would permit carrying in places other than police stations; courthouses; public polling places; meetings of state, county, or municipal governing bodies; schools; passenger areas of airports; and certain other locations.
There's lots of pseudo-social science in the justifications section. I note, though, that Vermont has no licensing requirement: would full faith and credit require that all current and former Vermonters be allowed unlicensed national permission to carry handguns?

And the US House is also considering a bill that would obliterate state food labeling requirements which were in any way more stringent or complete than federal requirements.
Attorneys general from 37 states wrote lawmakers Wednesday in opposition to the measure.

The obvious target, they wrote, is California's Proposition 65, a law passed by voters requiring companies to warn the public of potentially dangerous toxins in food. The law has prompted California to file lawsuits seeking an array of warnings, including the mercury content in canned tuna and the presence of lead in Mexican candy.
Frankly, the national trend has usually been "California first, then everyone," so this is definitely swimming against the tide. Call it the "National Food Lobby Efficiency Act" because it would mean there was only one legislature and one set of agencies to pressure.... and who cares about those pesky consumers voters?

Of course, the full hypocrisy of this is only realized when you consider the effect of "Marriage Protection" legislation that flies in the face of "full faith and credit." I can't believe the Supreme Court has let this stand....

Update: Oh, medical insurance coverage is now a federal issue, because states are requiring insurance companies to actually cover things....

1 comment:

David Harmon said...

The original point of having a two-tiered system, was to allow partial self-government for the individual territories that assembled themselves into a republic.

Well if you think about it, *all* of those issues represent the federal government trying to take away state's rights, by imposing extraterritoriality. This is a natural part of the neocon campaign to destroy anything that could possibly tell them "no", about anything whatsoever.

The "right-to-carry" bill disallows any state from enforcing its gun-control laws on the visiting residents of other states.

Similarly for that bill about state food labeling. Given that federal laws also apply to the states, "any way more stringent or complete than federal requirements" flatly forbids states from regulating their own commerce or public safety.

The Defense Of Marriage act, of course, explicitly prevents the states from choosing to allow any semblance of recognition or respect for same-sex relationships, again interfering with local discretion.

And that one from Hullabaloo: "... (HIMMAA) ... would allow insurance companies to ignore nearly all state laws that require insurance coverage for certain treatments or conditions"

So much for state governance of business practices, or even (by the back door) medical practice. The obvious next steps:

(1) Declare that no state may restrict corporate behavior except as provided by federal law. A variation might declare that no state may restrict the behavior of a corporation based in any other state. (NAFTA is close to that on an international level!)

(2) Declare that no state may restrict or provide medical practice except as provided by federal law. (Naturally, AMA rulings won't count as "federal law"!)