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Roger’s Rules

Eric Holder and Federalist 45

July 7th, 2010 - 5:11 am

Where is James Madison when you need him? Yesterday, the announcement came that the attorney general of the United States, at the direction of the president of the United States, is filing suit against the state of Arizona because . . .  because why?  The real reason is because they do not want Arizona to enforce the law with respect to illegal immigrants.  The stated reason is that they do not want a state to be seen to usurp federal authority.

First, what about that law?  Have you read it? It’s not long. Unlike the legislation coming out of Washington, it doesn’t bludgeon citizens with thousands — yes, thousands — of pages of gobbledygook. It’s an 18-page document whose main burden is to say that the federal immigration law already in place should be enforced. You wouldn’t know that from the liberal hysteria that the bill has sparked. But that is the case: you can find the text of Senate Bill 1070 here: read it and see. As Byron York noted in the Washington Examiner,

Contrary to the talk, it is a reasonable, limited, carefully-crafted measure designed to help law enforcement deal with a serious problem in Arizona. Its authors anticipated criticism and went to great lengths to make sure it is constitutional and will hold up in court. It is the criticism of the law that is over the top, not the law itself.

Amen.  But why are the attorney general and the president pursuing this suit?  To show the world that Big Government is even bigger than you may have supposed.  In their view, Washington runs your life. Washington tells you whether you can enforce the law. Washington tells you what sort of health care you can have. Washington tells you how much money you can make. Washington is the machine: you are but a cog.

According to Washington, that is.  What would James Madison have thought?  It would be interesting to ask Eric Holder or the former law professor, Barack Hussein Obama.  Has either read the Federalist? I am thinking in particular of Federalist 45, in which Madison notes the following about the powers relegated by the Constitution to the federal government as distinct from those accorded to the individual states:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

Let’s look at that last sentence again: “The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

Where do you suppose Madison would come down on the debate over Arizona’s decision to secure its borders and enforce the law?  To ask the question is to answer it, but Washington isn’t listening.

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