Just a Matter of When
There's an aspect of the California campaign to legalize marijuana that Brian Doherty did not mention in his article ("Just a Matter of When," February).
In 1976 another Proposition 19 sought to decriminalize marijuana in California. It garnered only 34 percent of the vote. It was not until 2008 that a new proposition for general decriminalization made it on the ballot. It only sought to reduce possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to an infraction. It got just 40 percent of the vote.
In only one election cycle, the 2010 Proposition 19 not only garnered 46.5 percent of the vote but arguably forced the California legislature and governor to ratify the failed Proposition 5 by making simple possession an infraction in a law passed a week before the vote. Many saw this as a concession aimed at influencing the election. That gain in one election cycle for a much more comprehensive reform was as big as the gains of the previous three decades.
Los Angeles, CA
The Science of Libertarian Morality
I found Ron Bailey's article about the research on liberal, conservative, and libertarian moralities and how they differ ("The Science of Libertarian Morality," February) extremely interesting. I was pleased the researchers recognized that not all Americans are 100 percent right or 100 percent left, and that they smartly began to direct some research toward the libertarian worldview.
The one thing I took issue with was Bailey's ending comment that "liberals and conservatives may love people more than do libertarians." I've always been under the impression that extreme paternalism, overprotectiveness, and giving in to a loved one's every desire are simply shortcuts and not expressions of real love. It's much easier to give little Johnny a trophy after he loses a baseball tournament than it is to watch him sulk and cry for an afternoon. But allowing him to learn that many of life's endeavors naturally come with failure will impart a lesson that remains with him for a lifetime, while the sorrows of specific failures are long forgotten. Falsely bolstering self-esteem with endless coddling does nothing but create individuals staring at the threshold of adulthood, terrified and without a clue how to stand on their own. I would hardly call that love.
San Angelo, TX
When Booze Was Banned But Pot Was Not
Jacob Sullum is certainly correct when he says "the Supreme Court transformed the Commerce Clause" ("When Booze Was Banned but Pot Was Not," February). But it doesn't follow that the federal government now has legal authority to ban pot. The Supreme Court is not granted any authority to transform, alter, amend, or change the Constitution. Any "transformation" of the Constitution must be done per Article V, which includes ratification by the people. The Supreme Court doesn't have a mechanism to propose changes to the Constitution, much less carry them out unilaterally.
Walnut Cove, NC
CORRECTION: Matt Welch's "The C-Word" (March) misstated the date of the U.S. Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision. The ruling came in 1857.