Thursday, December 24, 2009

Congress’s “Lost Weekend”: Rick Perry and Reagan lawyers - More state sovereignty initiatives on the way

By Bernie Quigley

- For The Hill on 12/24/09

The Nancy and Harry show suggests a mad adolescent rush like in those classic Hollywood b movies where the parents go out of town and the teens take over the house (and the Senate) for the weekend. Or the drunken euphoria of Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend. Or Animal House maybe, staring Barney Frank as John Belushi. Wreak havoc now while you can. The grown-ups will be back in force anytime now. But I see it as a long – almost 20 years now - process of irresponsible government and the abdication of public will and responsibility which began with the Clintons and advanced with George W. Bush. A process we hoped would end with Obama. The next president will be an adult, was New York mayor Mike Bloomberg’s auspicious comment as Obama was moving toward Mile High Stadium. Too early to say.

But authority may not come back after the lost weekend. It may find another path. Again this week there were new initiatives awakening the Jeffersonian approach; that is, state and regional defenses against federal malfeasance. Here are three.

Rick Perry opposes “unprecedented federal intrusion”: Gov. Rick Perry this week sent a letter asking other governors to join him in ongoing efforts to assert the constitutional rights of states as guaranteed under the 10th Amendment with regard to the federal health care bill being forced through by Congress. He urged the governors to support and join efforts by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and several other state attorneys general to determine the constitutionality of a compromise in the pending federal health care legislation exempting the state of Nebraska from increased Medicaid costs resulting from the bill’s passage.

Washington state’s attorney general, Rob McKenna, has recently appeared on Fox’s Neil Cavuto’s show discussing the similar issues. He made the point that this kind of state-based initiative was recently pioneered by liberal governers – Arnold Schwarzenegger and others – when they sued the federal government on environmental issues.

States Can check Washington’s Power: There is a way to deter further constitutional mischief from Congress and the federal courts, and restore some semblance of the proper federal-state balance, say David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey in an op ed this past week in the Wall Street Journal. That is to give to states—and through them the people—a greater role in the constitutional amendment process. “The idea is simple, and is already being mooted in conservative legal circles.” Rivkin and Casey, Washington, D.C.-based attorneys, served in the Department of Justice during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

Vermont will have an independence candidate in the upcoming governor’s race: Fifth generation Vermonter and Kirby businessman Dennis P. Steele, who is founder and CEO of Free Vermont Radio is heading a ticket seeking Vermont independence. Mr. Steele, who is running for Governor, will be joined by Burlington businessman and political activist Peter Garritano, who will announce his candidacy for Lt. Governor. From their press release: “What these candidates have in common is a commitment to bring home the Vermont National Guard troops from Afghanistan and Iraq now as well as a commitment to return Vermont to its status as an independent republic as it was between January 15, 1777 and March 4, 1791.”


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