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February 10, 2007

ANN ALTHOUSE HAS SOME THOUGHTS on Rudy Giuliani, abortion, and federalism. A couple of observations:

First, Ann refers to federalism's role (under the inaccurate moniker of "states' rights") as a shibboleth for anti-desegregation forces. The segregationists used it as a slogan, naturally enough, because federalism was a popular idea that had appeal to people beyond their ranks. That's usually why people choose such things. But, of course, the promiscuous way they deployed it in the service of a bad cause had the effect of undermining its appeal. (People on the left have managed to do the same thing to the notion of "equality" over more recent decades). Nonetheless, despite its abuse at the hands of segregationists, federalism plays a lot of positive roles in our system as well, roles that have nothing to do with race. I explore those at some length in my essay, Is Democracy Like Sex?, which looks at the unappreciated benefits of a number of Constitutional features.

Federalism is also relevant to abortion debates. Dave Kopel and I argued, in fact, that a proper reading of Congress's enumerated powers doesn't allow for federal regulation of abortion. I rather doubt that Rudy is taking that position himself, though I'd be gratified if he were.