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The Warren Court pretty well discredited and dismantled the doctrine of states' rights. Starting with Reagan's election and the reshaping of the Court, we now have states' rights back at the center of American Constitutional law. With the Chief Justice's unfortunate passing, as we've got this tragedy in Louisana, we're now seeing again, played out on a grand scale, that kind of federal-state balance -- or imbalance -- that federalists like me think should be resolved in favor of the federal government.

-- Howell Raines, former executive editor of The New York Times, on This Week Sunday

A lot of people have been making this mistake more and more, so let me be clear here: federalism means states' rights with a strong, but strictly limited, federal government. Anti-federalists were against the strong but limited federal government, wanting pretty much everything controlled by the states.

The Howell Raineses of today are not federalists, by any stretch of the imagination, because they recognize neither the rights of states nor the limits of the federal government, which are the two key ingredients of federalism. They want unlimited federal government, which is what federalism was adamantly against, and what the authors of the Federalist Papers clearly supported, such as in this passage by James Madison:

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their Own hands; they may a point teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision for the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit of the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare. ... I venture to declare it as my opinion, that, were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America ...

It is amazing that Howell Raines and people like him are in favor of most of the above, while the man who personifies federalism in America was clearly against them, saying they subvert the very foundations of the government instituted by the Constitution. And he has the gall to actually call himself a federalist?

I know little about Raines, except for a few of the huge mistakes he made as editor of the Times, especially in regard to Jayson Blair, so my opinion of him is generally negative. I'll be polite and say this doesn't count as a point in his favor. slashdot.org

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on September 4, 2005 10:25 PM.

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