Loughlin and the Tenth Amendment

Gail Collins, perhaps the most amusing columnist in America, has an op-ed in the New York Times today that notes a workshop at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington titled "When All Else Fails: Nullification and State Resistance to Federal Tyranny."

How many of you out there thought we had settled the question of whether states have the right to nullify federal laws during the Lincoln administration? Can I see a show of hands?

It’s civil war déjà vu. The trick in conservative circles today is to see how furious you can get about Washington’s encroachment onto states rights without quite falling over the edge into Fort Sumter.

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives the states all powers not delegated to the federal government, is all the rage. (The Second Amendment is so 2008.) Its passionate fans, who are inevitably starting to be referred to as “tenthers,” interpret the amendment as pretty much restricting the federal government to military matters. They feel the health care reform bill is unconstitutional. Perhaps also Social Security.

A little hyperbole, perhaps. But if Republican State Representative and Congressional candidate John J. Loughlin II has shown intriguing flashes of bucking the party - proposing a federal bailout of states' troubled pension systems, for instance - it is a measure of his general fealty to the conservative line that he is co-sponsoring a resolution this session that proclaims the supremacy of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and asks the "President and the Congress of the United States to refrain from enacting or imposing any law or regulation that is beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers or that would diminish the rights of the people of Rhode Island to govern themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent state."    

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