The Left’s Newfound Love of States’ Rights

Every Constitutional conservative knows there’s no such thing as “states’ rights.”  Only people have rights. Governments have powers. People have the right to grant government powers. Governments have no power to assume powers not granted by the people. Anyone who says “states’ rights” needs a basic course in political philosophy.

For years, a few conservatives mistakenly defended “states’ rights” when they meant to say “federalism.” When conservatives made this error, the left jumped all over them. But the left denounced federalism, too. The left traditionally wanted all power centralized in Washington or in the United Nations. Conservatives, on the other hand, traditionally wanted to cede only the minimum power necessary for the government to fulfill its limited duties of protecting our freedom, enforcing contracts, and delivering the mail.

So I was shocked to hear leftist Democrat Bill Richardson cite states rights as the moral and legal justification for sanctuary cities. Here’s the clip from Fox News. It’s about 3:30 mark:

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Sanctuary cities are cities that openly violate federal immigration laws, protecting even illegal alien rapists and murders from deportation and prosecution. These cities get billions of tax dollars in grants every year, and they use some of this money to break the law. Mayors and boards of aldermen in these cities are criminals who should be prosecuted as accessories to rape and murder. And, yes, I would happily deal with the social consequences of throwing Rahm Emanuel or Bill DeBlasio in a federal penitentiary.  It’s where they belong.

But how does one wrap his mind around the idea of leftists embracing “states rights?” And, by implication, federalism? The left hates federalism. Until it doesn’t.

The good news is that Bill Richardson and his friends have proven that we were right all along. America works best when the states and the people wield more power than the federal government. Without regard for immigration law, I ask my leftist readers to admit that distributed power is the best defense against federal overreach. But we only recognize the benefits of federalism when Washington’s in the hands of people we don’t like.

What makes Bill Richardson and his open-borders warriors wrong is this: the same Constitution that creates federalism grants immigration powers to the federal government alone. We ceded that power to Washington in 1790 when Rhode Island finally ratified the Constitution.

Let’s accept, once and for all, that federalism rocks. And let’s stop saying “states’ rights.”