The Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman noted the federalism switcheroo late last month:
For the last 70 years, conservatives and liberals have argued whether assorted powers should be centralized in Washington or entrusted to the states. The debate is still going on, but with a strange twist. Somewhere along the line, the two factions switched sides. The result is like watching a version of "The Odd Couple" in which Jack Lemmon is the slob and Walter Matthau is the neat freak.
Chapman cites the No Child Left Behind Act, and opposition to it, as a prime example. His conclusion is hopeful:
Still, if liberals keep championing the rightful powers of the states, they may develop a lasting attachment. Lately, in two cases before the Supreme Court, they've been telling Washington busybodies to take a long walk off a short pier.
One case concerns a federal raid on a Californian who was growing marijuana for medical use, as allowed under California law. The other involves Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, which lets doctors prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients, and which the Justice Department wants to overrule.
In these instances, conservatives want faraway bureaucrats butting into local affairs, while liberals say that maybe Barry Goldwater was right about the dangers of big government.