Joni Ernst and State Rights

While the media spat over Joni Ernst’s military service in Kuwait and Iraq is front and center lately, perhaps the attacks of the so-called “truthers” have a deeper motive. It seems most, if not all, veterans consider her performance in the Middle East worthy and valuable - not losing a single member of her company while doing convoys up a dangerous road is no small matter. But aside from the need for revenge perhaps over Kerry truthers, there is another issue that Ernst takes a stand on that seems to anger progressives: state rights.

The Tenth Amendment and it's succinct wording give residual rights to the states. The Supremacy Clause in Article 6 bends state judges to the will of federal law when a conflict arises, and they sure have over the last 200 odd years. And the Supreme Court has found that states under Article 3 do not have the power to nullify federal law, which is instead the prerogative of federal courts. To put it mildly, this has been a debating point, and still very much is. So what meaning does the 10th amendment have in 2015? Senator Ernst has been, and presumably still is, very much a proponent of state's rights. In matters like gun control, EPA standards, and education, she is a firm supporter of state sovereignty over such matters. This does not sit well with many in Washington, and perhaps the attacks on Joni Ernst's military record are an attempt to fluster and silence a popular voice on state rights.

The question remains, and it is a vital one, over what residual rights state legislatures possess? The shadows of discrimination do cloud part of this story, but this goes way beyond what some states did or tried to do in that matter in the past. In education, for example, do we need a strict federal mandate on what should be taught in every classroom across the country? Courtesy of Common Core? Like in France for example? In terms of pollution standards, do we need one iron-clad standard for all because pollution does flow down rivers and across the nation's skies? Who decides how to balance those concerns against the need to keep the lights on, as well as the heaters in winter, and ensure jobs are available in ones home state?

If it is indeed, and in deeds it has been so, the Supreme Court rather than the legislatures that is the final arbiter of the Constitution, then state rights are conditional at best, and SCOTUS becomes, or has been for generations, the regal authority of an oligarchy. Is there the political space left to advocate for state rights in a pragmatic and reasonable way in such a Manichean environment? Pollution matters, discrimination matters, but so do state rights. Joni Ernst needs to keep advocating for the right of state legislatures to push back against "the despotism of an oligarchy". The words are Jefferson's and they are about the power of the judiciary, and specifically the Marshall Court, over state legislatures.

Posted by Keeley at February 11, 2015 5:38 PM
Comment #388362

The states have increasingly been becoming red. Controlled by conservative Republicans. States rights would of necessity interfere with the socialist agenda of the left. When I say the left, I am not only referring to the Democrat Party, but also RINOs in the Republican Party. Remember, Washington DC is about power and who wields it.

Posted by: Sam Jones at February 13, 2015 1:17 PM
Comment #388889

Joni Ernst is calling herself a combat veteran having never been in a firefight, something that folks who have take exception to.

But that relating to States’ Rights?

Sorry. No. The Tenth Amendment is still largely applicable, the thing is, commerce, pollution, communications, and other aspects of modern life more readily cross state lines. Technology and the social change that followed it has changed a world where more decentralized government made sense into one where more centralized government makes sense.

You want to take the world as it is now, and remake it to bend it to a theory. You should be taking the theory and rewriting it to suit the modern world.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 17, 2015 11:36 AM
Comment #390713

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