Should Local Governments Have Greater Autonomy from States?

Leading legal scholars on opposite sides of the political spectrum argue that the answer is yes. But it will not be easy to figure out how to do it.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

In recent years, there has been extensive focus on legal and political conflicts between states and the federal government. Dissenting states seek greater autonomy from federal dictates. Ongoing legal battles over Obamacare and sanctuary cities are just the latest examples of this phenomenon. But we have also seen a less-well known trend of conflict between states and local government. New articles by prominent legal scholars on opposite sides of the political spectrum contend that local governments should have greater autonomy from states. They make a solid case. But actually achieving increased autonomy will not be easy.

Libertarian-leaning conservative law professor Glenn Reynolds (most famous as the founder of the Instapundit blog), has an article focusing on the plight of conservative rural areas subject to the dictates of urban-dominated state legislatures in blue states. As he points out, their complaints have led to the rise of secession movements in states like California and Oregon. Here is his abstract, summarizing the piece:

This short piece looks at the growing phenomenon of intra-state secession movements. From California, where plans have been floated to split the state into two, five, or six pieces, to more traditional secessionist movements in Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington, to plans to separate upstate New York and downstate Illinois from the large metropolitan areas that dominate state politics, various states are facing internal separatist movements. The paper looks at the sources of the dissatisfaction driving these movements, and suggests a number of solutions to address that dissatisfaction without amending the Constitution or adding stars to the flag.

From the opposite side of the political spectrum, University of Virginia law professor Richard Schragger (a leading academic expert on local government) has an important new article focused on growing red state legislative efforts to restrict the autonomy or blue urban enclaves within their jurisdiction:

American cities are under attack. The last few years have witnessed an explosion of preemptive legislation challenging and overriding municipal ordinances across a wide-range of policy areas. City-state conflicts over the municipal minimum wage, LGBT anti-discrimination, and sanctuary city laws have garnered the most attention, but these conflicts are representative of a larger trend toward state aggrandizement. These legal challenges to municipal regulation have been accompanied by an increasingly shrill anti-city politics, emanating from both state and federal officials. This Article describes this politics by way of assessing the nature of—and reasons for—the hostility to city lawmaking. It argues that anti-urbanism is a long-standing and enduring feature of American federalism and seeks to understand how a constitutional system overtly dedicated to the principles of devolution can be so hostile to the exercise of municipal power. The Article also provides a current accounting of state preemptive legislation and assesses the cities' potential legal and political defenses. It concludes that without a significant rethinking of state-based federalism the American city is likely to remain vulnerable.

Both Reynolds' rural red enclaves in blue states and Schragger's urban blue enclaves in red states could potentially benefit from increased local autonomy from states. Greater local control might have important systemic advantages, as well. The most obvious is that more people in both blue and red states could live under the types of policies they like. In addition, greater devolution of power to the local level can increase opportunities for people to "vote with their feet." It is usually cheaper and easier to move from one city to another in the same region, than to decamp to a different state. And foot voting is often a better mechanism of political freedom than ballot box voting, because foot voters have a far higher chance of making a meaningful decision, and much stronger incentives to be well-informed.

It is neither possible nor desirable to devolve every issue to the local level. Some problems are so large-scale that they can only be handled at the state, national, or even international level. Global warming is an obvious example of the latter. The importance of foot voting suggests the need to restrict local control over immobile assets, such as property in land, which cannot be moved in response to exploitative local policies. Such policies also often have the effect of eliminating valuable opportunities for foot voting, most notably in the case of restrictive zoning rules that lock out the poor and lower middle class, cutting them off from valuable job opportunities. Still, there are large potential gains from devolving power over a wide range of issues where there is little risk of losing economies of scale or destroying foot voting opportunities.

Increasing local autonomy from states will not be an easy task, however. Secession movements aimed at forming new states are one possible route. But, as Reynolds explains, the odds are stacked against them, because breaking up an existing state requires the consent of both Congress and that state's own legislature.

Reynolds advocates federal legislation to protect local autonomy against the states. But it is not clear what incentive Congress would have to pass it. After all, most members of Congress (especially senators elected in state-wide elections) represent the dominant political majority within their states—the very group whose power dissenting localities seek to escape. In addition, increased congressional intervention in state-local relations might well result in greater imposition of homogeneity rather than less.

Both Reynolds and Schragger consider the possibility of state-level reform, granting greater autonomy to localities. Where feasible, this may well be the best option. But, it too, usually requires the support of the very same state legislatures that are undermining local autonomy to begin with.

Schragger also considers a number of innovative legal arguments that would enable federal courts to carve out greater autonomy for localities, such as expanding Tenth Amendment "anti-commandeering" rules to protect local governments against the states in much the same ways they currently shield both states and localities from the federal government. I have doubts about the validity of these theories. And, as Schragger recognizes, it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will endorse them in the near future.

In my view, Reynolds and other commentators may underestimate the potential viability of creating new states through secession. Such efforts are clearly an uphill battle. But state legislatures might agree to them if, as a result, they end up with a more ideologically homogeneous state where currently dominant forces have greater control. Financial incentives might also help lead to agreement—if the newly formed state was willing to give some sort of separation payment or "divorce bill" to its former state government, as the United Kingdom will have to do in order to leave the European Union. Congress, in turn, might consent if secession could be managed in such a way as to avoid altering the partisan balance of power in the Senate. For example, large states such as California and Texas coulld be partitioned in ways that create equal numbers of new Democratic and Republican states. The creation of new states through secession has occurred a few times in American history, as with the establishment of Maine and West Virginia in the nineteenth century. Perhaps the practice can be revived. Still, doing so is unlikely to be either quick or easy.

I am not optimistic that we can achieve a major increase in local autonomy from state governments in the near future. But the debate over this question is just starting to heat up again. It is possible that new strategies for devolution can be developed. From that standpoint, increased interest in the issue on different sides of the political spectrum is a hopeful sign.

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  1. The ultimate autonomy is, of course, the individual. Telling that the proposals are only for how to shift government power, not how to reduce government power.

    1. The OP noted that there are problems that are too big for localities. There are also problems too big for individuals. If there is a larger, better armed, and more aggressive person trying to murder me, I’m going to eagerly invite the state’s involvement in stopping him, at every level of government.

      1. And how will you disinvite the state when you don’t appreciate their “assistance”?

        1. I’ll band together with a bunch of FedSec dorks and smugly throw Ayn Rand books at them. Or I’ll bring the state to its knees by posting on the internet about how the government must be reduced or else it will kill you.

          1. “The most effective way to change to world is to share a meme on Facebook”


            1. Meme magic is real…just ask the Russians.

  2. Presumably the answer depends on how big and how heterogeneous a given state is.

    Some states should arguably be merged with their neighbours (because they are extremely similar in terms of (political) culture, voting patterns, etc while being individually so small that it gives them an unfair weight in federal elections).

    By the same logic, other states should be split up (as discussed in the original post) or be given high degrees of within-state federalism. Other states again seem to be about the right fit for a fairly centralised system of government.

    So no one-size-fits-all answer…

    1. Why would voters ever agree to merge with another state giving up representation in Congress and likely decreased representation in the combined state legislature?

      1. They wouldn’t. I didn’t say merging states was going to happen, just that it ought to as a matter of (consistent) principle.

  3. There is a fallacy that local government control is more conducive to limited government.

    As someone who attends local government monthly meetings, local politics can be worse for limited government because most people in a community never pay attention to whats going on locally. When people do attend, they voice their opinions and often times are ignored when the final votes come in.

    Local citizens advocating unconstitutional restrictions on property rights should be ignored but issues about traffic, safety, and local planning for increased water usage, etc are ignored too.

    On that note, it would be worse to have state officials in the state capital make most of the decisions, so checking and balancing that state control with county and city governments is probably the best method.

    1. OK. But if the residents of the locality want an active local government why is it your business?

      1. Active in what areas?

        1. Whatever areas they want to be active in.

          If you are worried about constitutional issues then I agree that of course they are restricted by state and federal constitutions, but beyond that I don’t see why a local government should be stopped from doing something the citizens want because there is some ideology that doesn’t like it.

          1. What makes you think local government will restrict themselves to only doing things the citizens want? That’s certainly not been the case in my experience.

            1. Because local officials have to actually live with their constituents, rather than hiding in some suburb of DC or the state capital. The problem tend to be too-large units of local government with too-few representatives.

              1. That’s the theory, I’m not sure I buy it though. Ask a random person who the president is and who their mayor is. Ask them who their US Senator is and ask them who their local city council member is. I’d wager more people could name the former than the latter. You have to intentionally pay attention to know anything about local politics, whereas it’s hard to avoid information about the federal government.

            2. What makes you think state legislatures are better-placed than local governments to decide?

              1. As someone who has, in the past, been active in local politics, I’d say it depends on the issue.

                State legislatures have access to greater resources, for starters. Where a locality’s resource limitations might restrict their options, the state could provide.

                There is a benefit to having some decisions apply state-wide in order to benefit state-wide commerce or reduce state-wide costs. Drivers licenses, marriage licenses, and other items come to mind as an example.

                Having said that, I can think of several instances where state-wide laws overstepped appropriate boundaries:

                – LGBT protections
                – Prohibiting municipalities from setting up local broadband services

  4. Creating new states is an awful idea. Just awful.

    Doing so “in such a way as to avoid altering the partisan balance of power in the Senate” may make things more politically acceptable, but will probably make it even less representative than it already is, and distort the EC even more.

    Why make the Senate and EC, and to a lesser degree the House, even worse than they already are?

    1. In a winner-take-all system (which 48 states have IIRC), the populous states have more influence in the electoral college than the less-populous states, because they wield a bigger bloc of votes.

      1. Well, the majorities in populous states have more influence. Minorities, not so much.

      2. So what?

        The EC is still badly unrepresentative, because voters in smaller states have disproportionately greater power than those in larger states.

        It’s an irrational system unless you believe there is some sensible reason that living on side of an arbitrary line on the ground ought to give you more power than living on the other side.

        1. What a crock of shiite!

          The simple solution to fixing the EC would start with removal of the 17th Amendment and returning the election of Senators to the State legislature(s). So we have State representatives aka Senate and people representatives aka House in Congress.

          If anything, the EC is better proportioned than any other system. Direct Democracy, which is what it appears Prof Somin prefers, is basically Mob Rule whereby the federal government is controlled by the majority and the minority has no say at all. That would make the USA no different than Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, etc.

          1. I note that you have internalised the tribal approach to politics, whereby no voter is assumed to ever change their alliances.

          2. What about a parliamentary system? Minorities have a say in those systems.

            1. A parliamentary system with single-member, first-past-the-post districts? Or with proportional representation? Guaranteed representation for special interest parties with a minimum of national votes will do nothing to decrease tribalism and will likely increase it.

              1. Proportional representation.

            2. We should submit to the original native american system of matriarchy.

              “Our leaders were selected by a caucus of women before the appointments were subject to popular review….Our traditional governments are composed of an equal number of men and women. The men are chiefs and the women clan-mothers….As leaders, the women closely monitor the actions of the men and retain the right to veto any law they deem inappropriate….Our women not only hold the reigns of political and economic power, they also have the right to determine all issues involving the taking of human life. Declarations of war had to be approved by the women, while treaties of peace were subject to their deliberations.”

              George-Kanentiio, Doug, Iroquois Culture & Commentary (New Mexico: Clear Light Publishers, 2000), pp. 53?55.

          3. Keeping in mind that the reason the 17th amendment was adopted in the first place is that basically every state had already decided to pick its Senators by public elections. It was your typical “write into the rules what you’re already doing” amendment.

            Repealing it wouldn’t have much effect at this point.

            Not zero, though, either, because prior to the 17th amendment, there was a least the theoretical possibility that a state legislature would get pissed off enough to take back that power. It seems to have had at least a bit of a moderating effect on Senatorial behavior, judging by how fast things got ugly after the amendment was ratified.

          4. This is a new height in idiocy even for you, Flame.

            If direct democracy is mob rule why isn’t the EC also? Because citizens of small states are smarter, more virtuous, than those in larger ones?

            What does popular election of the President have to do with Venezuela?

            Why repeal the 17th? So state legislatures – paragons of wisdom – can pick Senators? I wish people would people just shut up about that. There are about a million things wrong with the idea. We are locked into states having representation qua states, but let’s not make a bad thing worse.

      3. ” the populous states have more influence in the electoral college than the less-populous states,”

        While this is true as an absolute, in fact the populous states have LESS influence on a per capita basis. This is because the total number of votes granted to a state in the electoral college is the sum of the number of that state’s Representatives (which are allocated based upon population) and that State’s number of Senators (always 2, regardless of population). SO, if all states converted to a straight proportional system for allocating electoral college votes, the smallest states by population would still have a disproportionately greater influence in the electoral college.

        1. “SO, if all states converted to a straight proportional system for allocating electoral college votes, the smallest states by population would still have a disproportionately greater influence in the electoral college.”

          My solution would not be straight proportional.

          # of electors = # of Representatives + # of Senators (always 2).

          Representatives are elected by geographical district and both Senators are elected by state wide vote.

          Therefore, my solution to eliminating winner takes all would be 1 elector assigned by the outcome in each individual Rep district and 2 assigned by the state wide popular vote.

          1. PS: I believe that at least one of the two states that is not currently winner takes all uses this system.

          2. Why?

            What is the benefit of this? How would it be better than straight proportional allocation? Suppose your system produces a 60-40 breakdown of votes, while proportional allocation would produce 50-50.

            Say half the voters in the state vote D, half vote R. By what logic does it make sense to divide the electoral vote 60-40 because of accidents of where voters live? It’s nonsense. More drawing of magical lines. Not to mention that it is particularly bad where districts are highly gerrymandered.

  5. “without a significant rethinking of state-based federalism the American city is likely to remain vulnerable.”

    And the inhabitants of the city will be less vulnerable.

    It’s nice that leaving is an option for those in a city afflicted by a bad government, but ideally, if the state legislature and state constitution limit some of the city’s really bad laws, then the place might just be tolerable enough for potential migrants to stay put, which would make the city stronger, not weaker.

    1. That assumes that states make better laws than cities. Particularly a libertarian would presumably say that you’d ideally want every level of government to push back against every other level, so that you end up with vertical balance of powers to complement the horizontal one.

      1. Ideally, I’d want every level of government to just stop pushing.

  6. Eastern Oregon, Eastern Washington, upstate NY and northern California would probably make great states – at least better governed than when saddled with the blue parts. And the blue parts would have not even the shadow of an obstacle to voting blue all the time and creating paradises on earth.

    If these potential red states are to be balanced out, admit some of the territories, they tend to be Blue.

    1. Where “great states” = resembling West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Mississippi, etc.

      1. And the blue remainders would be free from the red areas, and would be free to pass ass sorts of…Blue laws.

        Imagine southern California unburdened with those backwards hicks in the north, and so on. Southern Cal could only benefit, right? No bitter clingers, can’t-keep-ups, ignorant fundamentalists to block the path to a better society. The only setback would be that the blue area wouldn’t be able to dictate to the seceded areas, a small price to pay, surely, since you simply seek freedom from the clingers, not the power to lord it over them, right?

        1. heh heh, all sorts not ass sorts

    2. I don’t want them “balanced out.” I don’t want them each having two Senate seats and three or more EC votes.

      1. Again, the small states’ power in the EC is limited because the big states have winner take all systems with lots of votes at stake, while small states have a small number of votes at stake.

        1. You don’t understand how math works.

          1. But that won’t slow his contributions by so much as a half-step.

            1. Delaware certainly seems to wield more influence in Presidential elections than Ohio…what with its powerhouse electoral college influence and Joe Biden.


          2. Among other things.

            1. How does the disproportionate power of small-state voters in the electoral college work out in practice? What are some examples of Presidents catering to small states in order to get their electoral votes?

              I don’t mean trying to get support for Senate candidates of the President’s party, I mean getting support in the electoral college specifically.

              If I missed any examples, I’m sincerely sorry.

              (Maybe the nomination of Joseph Biden of Delaware?)

              1. In practice? A weaker or less popular candidate can become president, flouting the preference of most Americans.

                1. “the preference of most Americans.”

                  href=”http://bit.ly/2Dm0DM3″>*Every* candidate got less than 50% of the vote.

                  You’re not very good at math, are you?

                  1. Every candidate got less than 50% of the vote


              2. “How does the disproportionate power of small-state voters in the electoral college work out in practice?”

                Because Presidents who could not win a popular vote nonetheless win the Presidency because of Wyoming and the Dakotas.

                1. Gosh, you know I’m bad at math, how did Wyoming and the Dakotas give Trump 34 more electoral college votes than he needed to win?

                  1. Nope, I guess I don’t know the New Math, but the three states you mentioned have only 9 electoral votes among them.

                    1. And you know that under winner-take-all, the Democratic majorities in New York and California got to vote on behalf not only of themselves, but of the Republican and 3rd party voters in those respective states?

                    2. If there was not an electoral college and the presidency was decided by popular vote, the Republican minorities in New York and California would have their votes count towards Donald Trump. And he’d have lost.

      2. “I don’t want them each having two Senate seats and three or more EC votes.”

        Fine, just realize you are asking for the dissolution of the United States.

        The people of “small states” will never agree to government by the big city dwellers of the West Coast and the Northeast.

        1. America’s changing electorate seems destined to diminish the influence of those hostile to modern, successful communities. The agreement of voters in “small states” may become irrelevant.

          Unless, of course, conservatives perfect a machine that mass-produces poorly educated, economically inadequate, disaffected, intolerant, easily frightened, elderly, insular, southern and rural white males (and Republicans figure a way to register the newly minted goobers to vote). If that occurs, I acknowledge, those who prefer education, tolerance, science, reason, and inclusivity could be in real trouble.

          1. “The agreement of voters in “small states” may become irrelevant.

            “Unless, of course, conservatives perfect a machine that mass-produces poorly educated (etc)”

            Well, then, you have nothing to worry about, since you’re on the Right Side of History and your side has all the clever scientists, and the conservatives can’t make any machine more complex than a tin-can telephone.


        2. I’d say you’re the one promoting dissolution.

          As soon as there are states of East Washington, East Oregon, North New York, etc. There are going to be demands for states of North Alabama, East Tennessee, and a bunch of other places. Pretty soon we’ll have more states than we can count, and will have to redesign the flag for lack of room for stars.

          We have enough states – too many, IMO.

    3. Having moved to the great state of North Virginia 10 years ago, I’ve enjoyed watching the state move from red to purple and edging ever closer to blue every election.

      People vote, not cows or trees.

      1. The American electorate improves each day.

        1. Tell that to my taxes. There’s a reason I moved away. Gerry Connolly never met a tax dollar he didn’t spend.

      2. “People vote, not cows or trees.”

        Somebody missed the Entmoot scene in the Lord of the Rings.

      3. And that is why every state or locality that produces food should plow under their fields and slaughter the animals in order to build tech centers like in Kelo. After all the only thing that matters is getting the people in sufficient quantity to swing things your way.

      4. The problem with this reasoning is that we don’t grow our food or harvest our lumber or mine our resources in itty little places where lots of people gather. And when lots of people gather in itty bitty places, they lose touch with the needs of the people who produce the resources that fuel our civilization, and even insist on doing things that antagonize the cows and the trees.

        Why *shouldn’t* we have mechanisms in place to give the people who grow and mine things a little more say in how they are governed, to keep them from being run over rough-shod by the people in itty bitty places?

  7. “Some problems are so large-scale that they can only be handled at the state, national, or even international level. Global warming is an obvious example of the latter.”

    WRONG. Global warming is only an example of the power to exploit widespread scientific ignorance by creating a fabricated “problem” to justify greater accumulations of power, nothing more. If you examine the scientific evidence, you’ll find: (a) precious little in the way of evidence that CO2 is even a material driver of warming; (b) the IPCC has consistently overestimated climate’s sensitivity to CO2 by a factor of at least 4; (c) the IPCC’s claims of “95% confidence” in its predictions are fiction, unsupported by its own scientific evidence, its models have proven to be incapable of accurate predictions for even a decade, much less a century; and (d) even assuming the warming that the IPCC predicts, its conclusion that such warming is “harmful” or “dangerous” is based on the worst economic modelling you’re ever likely to see, which completely ignores both (i) the benefits of higher CO2 levels (green plants LIKE CO2, and grow a faster, stronger, and more productively at much higher levels) and (ii) human capacity to adapt. People who think that we need to take urgent government action to stop the scourge of global warming have too much Chicken Little in them. They should remember the outcomes of previous doomsday predictions from the likes of Malthus and Paul Ehrlich.

    1. People who accept the fantasy of global climate warming change are science deniers who do not accept Darwin’s theory of evolution.

      1. You might want to check your information on which element of the population rejects evolution.

    2. I know I shouldn’t feed trolls, but let me at least send you to the always awesome xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1732/

      1. You notice that in that timeline, the warmer it gets, the better off humanity seems to be?

        1. Think of how great it’ll be by the time the sun turns into a red giant!

          1. Does not the Republican Party platform assure us that exceptional America will be saved from any such problem by the Rapture?

          2. Yeah, I expect that, by the time that happens, we’ll either be long extinct, or masters of creation.

            No, seriously, civilization and warm temperatures, they’re correlated. Even now, more people die of excess cold than excess heat, by a considerable margin. That ought to tell you something.

            Sure, things could get too hot. But there’s no good reason to expect that any time soon. Every time they refine the models, they end up predicting less warming.

        2. All functions are monotonic.

          If two aspirin relieve a headache think how wonderful swallowing a whole bottle would be.

        3. Are you more comfortable when the temperature in your house is 40 degrees or 70? If the latter, why not make it 90, or 100?

          Is the condition of humankind, where we live, how we live, and what we depend on, different now than it was, say, 10,000 years ago?

          Your point is ludicrous.

      2. That timeline on xkcd goes back 22,000 years – a blink of an eye in geologic time scales; the Earth is about 4.4 Billion years old; so it’s less than 2% of the time since early hominids came down from the trees and started evolving a bigger brain; just a fraction of a millisecond compared to the 2.5 Billion years since early single-celled cyanobacteria started feeding on sunlight and the CO2 that then made up over 90% of Earth’s atmosphere, slowly converting that into the Oxygen-Nitrogen mix we have today. I guess looking at 22,000 years is better than only looking at the 200 years or so that a lot of so-called “Climate Scientists” content themselves with. Is it too much to ask that one look back say 540 Million years, when the Oxygen-Nitrogen atmosphere created by the cyanobacteria gave rise to the Cambrian Explosion, when complex life forms evolved, or later, when those complex life forms emerged from the oceans and terrestrial plants and animals evolved in an atmosphere containing 10-15 times as much CO2 as at present? I guess it’s useless to point out that for the vast majority of the last 500 million plus years, the average CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has been 3,000-4,000 ppmv (compared to today’s 400 ppmv), or that the CO2 starvation levels of 800 ppmv forced the evolution of C4 photosynthesis, that 80% of current plant species, 95% of our food crops, would die of CO2 starvation at levels below 150 ppmv?

        1. Way to miss the point. You didn’t even miss it a little bit, but by a country mile…

          1. You must have been referring to the point on the top of your head.

        2. I don’t get your point.

          Do you think it would be good to return to the conditions of 540 million years ago? How would that be beneficial?

          Shouldn’t we be concerned about how CO2 levels, among other things, affect the world as it is today, not as it was however many million years ago?

          The threat is to our civilization. It is, as you note an extremely recent development.

          1. No, I am not suggesting that we return to the conditions of 540 million years ago. My points were simply that: (a) looking ONLY at a time line of 180 years to find a correlation between atmospheric CO2 levels and temperature on a planet that has been around 4.4 Billion years, and on which terrestrial plants and animals have been around for close to 500 million years, is incredibly simplistic; (b) the atmospheric levels of CO2 in existence when terrestrial plants and animals evolved (i.e., about 3,500-4,000 ppmv) is highly relevant to understanding just what levels of CO2 those plants and animals are adapted to handle; (c) looking ONLY at levels of CO2 for the last 200,000 years, when atmospheric CO2 reached an all time low of about 180 ppmv (dangerously close to starvation level for about 90% of all green plant species), and slowly recovered to its present level of about 400 ppmv (still well below the optimal level for plant growth), while ignoring 500 million years of history is beyond simplistic – it’s stupid; and (d) calling CO2 a “pollutant” or “dangerous” while completely ignoring its essential role in photosynthesis, based on questionable, at best, evidence of its contribution to warming, is just plain idiotic.

    3. Global warming isn’t a problem because humans can adapt which is why we should reject human attempts to adapt to global warming risks.

      1. No. Not at all. We should reject incredibly costly and utterly ineffective governmental responses that will do nothing whatsoever to reduce global warming but plunge millions into poverty. Voluntary human attempts to adapt are strongly encouraged. For example, if you decide to stop building housing on eroding coastlines, that would be super. And if government would stop creating incentives for stupidity, like subsidizing flood insurance for those who build on eroding coastlines, that, too, would be super.

        1. “We should reject incredibly costly and utterly ineffective governmental responses that will do nothing whatsoever to reduce global warming but plunge millions into poverty.”

          Are we not already doing that?

        2. We should reject incredibly costly and utterly ineffective governmental responses that will do nothing whatsoever to reduce global warming but plunge millions into poverty.

          I agree, and specifically so with respect to flood insurance, treatment of coastlines, etc. But that doesn’t mean government should be passive.

  8. Many of the proposals to split states are reactions to excessive accumulation of power by the state and thus would reduce the size of government, at least in the new states, if adopted. California’s “state of Jefferson” movement is a case in point, and one I’m surprised hasn’t been talked about on VC up to now.

    California’s constitution set the state up with a legislature where the two houses were elected differently, much like Congress, but it has illegally stopped following that plan. Under the constitution, California’s Assembly was elected by districts of equal population (and it still is), but the state Senate had one member from each of California’s 58 counties (and that has been changed, so it is now chosen just like the Assembly). This change was not made by the proper constitutional amendment process; it was an executive order by Gov. Earl Warren, 50+ years ago.

    Conveniently, the state Supreme Court took long enough to rubber-stamp this usurpation of power that by then, Warren was chief justice of the US Supreme Court, and successfully voted (rather than recuse himself) not to grant cert in the case. The “state of Jefferson” people are awaiting a decision by the 9th Circuit right now that could reverse this injustice. (The 9th will rubber-stamp it again, but this time SCOTUS will hear it.)

    1. Sorry, I hit send too soon.

      The point of all this is, if the Senate is changed back to one member per county, then the Democrats, who are concentrated in the major metro areas, will lose control of the Senate, probably permanently. They’ll still run the Assembly, but our budgets and the state government will get a lot smaller.

      And the Jefferson people’s argument is, if this change is not made, then they should get to vote to secede from California.

      1. Why would it be good to add more weight to the economic, cultural, educational, political, educational, and on some cases moral drags on our society?

        1. “Why would it be good to add more weight to the economic, cultural, educational, political, educational, and on some cases moral drags on our society?”

          So we should completely disenfranchise the high-crime, low-education ghettos of South Chicago, South Bronx, Washington, D.C., and East LA? Yeah, I could go for that!

          1. As tempting as it might be, from a practical standpoint, to exchange disenfranchisement of South Chicago, South Bronx, D.C., and East L.A. for similar disenfranchisement of just about every strongly Republican district in America, I continue to be a ‘one man, one vote’ proponent.

            1. Where you are the one man and you have the one vote.

              Carry on tyrant.

        2. Non sequitur. Those “drags” largely control the present state. This way at least part of it becomes free of them.

      2. if the Senate is changed back to one member per county,

        Now there is an absolutely idiotic notion. Let’s draw some magic lines on the ground and base representation on those instead of actual people.

        1. For some people, bernard11, that is the best and perhaps only chance to avoid political irrelevance.

    2. Inconveniently, the US supreme court has ruled that it is unconstitutional – as in: against the Federal constitution – to elect a state senate that way, because it offends against “one man, one vote”. The only reason why it is OK to elect the Federal Senate the way it is, is because the constitution expressly says so.

      1. Right. Very silly ruling: It’s unconstitutional for states to organize their own legislatures in exactly the same way as the Constitution demands the federal legislature be organized.

        As Justice Harlan noted, there wasn’t any actual constitutional basis for “one man, one vote”.

        1. You mean other than the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment?

          1. That’s not a basis for it, that’s an excuse.

            The equal protection clause essentially means that if a state makes it illegal to murder one group of people, it must make it illegal to murder other people. Really illegal, not just nominally.

            Everybody is to be equally protected by the law, rather than some people being protected, and others fair game.

            1. Wait, are you taking “protected” literally? As in, “protected from physical harm”? Wow…

              1. Yes, I am, though not just physical. Maybe you should try reading some of the Congressional debates on the 14th amendment some time.

                To quote Senator Jacob Howard, concerning the Equal protection clause: “It prohibits the hanging of a black man for a crime for which the white man is not to be hanged.

                The P&I clause guaranteed everybody the same rights, and the Equal protection clause underscored that they were not just to theoretically have equal rights, but that they would have those right equally protected, too.

                1. So that’s all it prohibits? It can’t possibly be broader?

                  Who authorized you to decide what “equal protection” means?

                  And if you think the P&I clause is the right one, so what?

                  1. “It can’t possibly be broader?”

                    Maybe, but that doesn’t mean in can be broad enough to get to a one man, one vote requirement.

                    1. Doesn’t mean it can’t, either.

                      Anyway. What is so terrible about one man one vote? I don’t get it. Really.

                      Rural areas don’t get their way? Too bad. There are fewer people there, you know. Now, it’s true that this can sometimes lead to outcomes that might be considered unfair, but so can any other system of representation. ISTM that one man one vote ought to be the baseline, and if you want to deviate from that you should have excellent reasons.

              2. Martinned,

                You are plainly unfamiliar with the Bellmore Constitution. It has the same text as the US Constitution, but is always interpreted to accord with the preferences of Mr. Bellmore.

    3. Warren didn’t reapportion the state senate on a population basis by executive order. Where are you getting that from?

      1. To be clear, California’s senate was apportioned on a one-county, one-senator basis from the 1930 election to 1968 election. This includes the entire time Warren was governor and the entire time he was Chief Justice of the United States.

        1. my bad, all but one year that he was Chief Justice.

  9. March 12, 2018

    re: various secession movements

    To all it may concern,



    1. Thank you for your considered opinion.

      1. Although a great amount of consideration of the matter has been given, this particular problem is quite simple when you get right down to it. Hence the simple response.

  10. Federal legislation to “protect” localities from their state governments runs into the fairly obvious problem that existing Federal case law and constitutional doctrine says local governments are entirely organs of the state government. A state under current doctrine can strip localities of all independent power, or even existence. Reynolds’ trying to invoke the Guaranty Clause in response is cute but implausible. And the analogy to the Colonies and Parliament is ridiculous; the Colonies were not merely dominated by “faraway representatives” in Parliament, but were not represented in Parliament at all.

    State-level reform is far more plausible, since 18 states representing 43.68% of the total US population have constitutional amendment initiative procedures to bypass the state legislature.

    1. We’re seeing the FCC butt up against this in attempts to stop states from stopping cities from setting up public wifis.

      The feds deciding what powers cities have over objections of the states seems among the most very crass of unconstitional power grabs.

      Be careful what you wish for, giant city costal states that like the idea of San Francisco outlawing gun shoppes.

  11. The discussion about creating new states lacks insight. The important principle to preserve is that acreage outvotes people. If that isn’t done, then per-person voting will run wild, risking overturn of the American way of life and politics. To guard against that, the secession/new-state movement must expand its horizons.

    For instance, in current discussions, the Dakotas are completely left out. But as per-capita acreage leaders, the Dakotas deserve priority consideration. To take North Dakota as an example, imagine not one or two, but nine new states. Taken from left to right, and top to bottom, these would be: North West North Dakota; North Central North Dakota; North East North Dakota; West Central North Dakota; Central North Dakota; East Central North Dakota; South West North Dakota; South Central North Dakota; and, South East North Dakota.

    Likewise with South Dakota.

    With that done, after 36 Dakota Senators arrive in Washington, how long would it take the Carolinas and West Virginia wise up and follow suit?

  12. I can think of one area in which state preemption is a benefit: any laws that derive their usefulness from mobility, i.e. concealed carry legislation.

    Before our State had preemption for its gun laws, every city and county could come up with their own rules for concealed carry. This made carry permits effectively meaningless, because the simple act of driving to and from work, could expose you to multiple sets of conflicting gun ordinances. There was a similar issue in recent years, regarding concealed carry in or around national parks- you could be subject to federal prosecution, if you happened to be pulled over on a State highway that crossed National Park jurisdiction

    It’s less of an issue now, although a number of places still have their own carve-out exceptions to the State preemption law. One of those carve-outs is for a university in the city… but the university owns something like 1/4 of the City’s property, so you never know whether you are “on campus” or not.

  13. Should I be surprised some have come out against ‘one man, one vote?’

    Certainly they are not doing a great job making the case for more localized control, if it leads to such experiments in governing without the consent of the governed.

    1. “governing without the consent of the governed”

      So, the US was governed without the consent of the governed until 1962?

      1. 1966, actually, unless you think poll taxes are consistent with “consent of the governed”.

      2. It’s not a binary question, but to a large degree, yes. By which I mean that a great many of the governed were not able to vote.

        Have you heard of the 15th Amendment, the 19th Amendment, the Voting Rights Act?

  14. Should I be surprised some have come out against ‘one man, one vote?’

    Certainly they are not doing a great job making the case for more localized control, if it leads to such experiments in governing without the consent of the governed.

    1. You figured the disaffected, outnumbered, stale-thinking folks would just surrender?

    2. No, you shouldn’t be surprised. Democracy isn’t a goal in itself, it’s just a means to an end. You shouldn’t elevate it over the end itself, human liberty and wellbeing.

      The idea here isn’t that a state returning to a more federal model for it’s legislature would result in the rural areas lording it over the urban areas, the way urban areas presently lord it over the rural areas in many states.

      The idea is that there would be balance of power, with one house of the legislature dominated by rural areas, the other by urban areas, so that nothing would get done unless it was in the interests of both.

      1. Democracy is an element of liberty. No society without democracy can, as a matter of definition, be considered free.

        1. Democracy is just how you decide who makes the rules. From a utilitarian standpoint it’s better that the majority oppress the minority, than that the minority oppress the majority, but democracy certainly permits oppression.

        2. I’m not sure what freedom without democracy looks like, but we have many examples of democracy without freedom. As most governments that toyed with democracy collapsed as they voluntarily granted emergency powers that were never given up, we should not be shocked — shocked! — if it happens again.

          Insofar as democracy may conflict with freedom, e.g. restrictive occupational licensing, or taxi medallions, it is freedom that should win.

      2. Actually, another question: If the goal is balance of power, why does it have to be between urban and rural voters? Why not between men and women, people whose name starts with a vowel vs people whose name starts with a consonant, old and young voters, etc?

        1. Just because that’s how the conflicting interests usually line up, throughout history.

          1. That’s how the conflicting interests lined up throughout history . . . for example, when women were forbidden to vote and blacks were worked immorally and abused for sport?

        2. Because urban voters and their elected officials have historically, for thousands of years, evidently, been prone to lording it over the countryside

          1. Wow. If memory serves, it wasn’t until the census of 1920 that fewer than half of Americans lived on farms. From then on back, just as a matter of political mechanics, it was rural dominance all the way. If it seems to you that nevertheless failed to stop political preeminence for urban-oriented values, that could suggest that rural voters then were much friendlier to urban ideals than they have since become.

            Or maybe it means rural voters became long-accustomed to lording it over urban voters, and are now getting cranky about the prospect of a reversal. An interesting topic for investigation, maybe, but certainly not an example to support the notion of urban voters “lording it over the countryside”?which so far doesn’t seem to have happened.

            1. You need to come to Illinois where one quarter of the state’s population in the city of Chicago completely dominate state government. Chicago officials have, from time to time claimed extra-territorial authority over neighboring municipalities and the rest of the state whenever their partisan, and not numerical dominance in the legislature allows it.

              Historically, rural communities have been denied the same kind if self-government allowed municipalities. In medieval England, municipalities were given special home rule privileges while rural residents remained under the thumb(s) of the feudal aristocracy. In classical antiquity, the city-states ruled the countryside. In the US, municipalities were given special home rule privileges because of rural dominance in the legislatures, but since Baker v Carr ended that rural legislative dominance, rural residents have been categorically denied that same kind of home rule enjoyed by municipal residents. Try and justify that if you think you can.

            2. Did rural dominance mandate detailed instructions of city layouts and land use, who could build what where, and so on?

      3. I very much disagree with this – the right of people to have a say in how they are governed is a moral imperative, just like speech and religion and everything else.

        We call someone so sure of themselves they would deny their fellows a possibly countermanding voice a tyrant.
        There are benefits and costs to devolution to local control. Essentializing the urban-rural split is a convenient analogy, but it’s not the totality of the issues.

        Despite the OP’s take, IMO the question is not when the benefits outweigh the costs, since that will vary idiosyncratically. Indeed, people seem lost in the weeds about this and that particular issue even on this thread. The question is the procedural one – which level of entity should get to make the determination.

        As to where the answer lies, I will note that I’ve seen lots of examples of devolution. I have not seen as much in the other direction, with two notable exceptions in America, one bloody and the other a bold experiment.

        1. ” the right of people to have a say in how they are governed is a moral imperative, just like speech and religion and everything else.”

          No, it’s a right very much unlike speech and religion and everything else.

          Because I exercise my right to freedom of speech, or of religion, or what have you, by myself doing as I please.

          While I exercise my right to vote by having a say in how people will be told they can’t do as they please.

          Democracy isn’t self-government. It’s each other government. And that’s a huge difference.

          1. There are rights without libertarian moment.
            There are ideals beyond liberty.

            I (and many other Americans) believe a government of, by, and for the people is one of those.

            Diminishing the franchise because you believe people will vote wrong and you and yours would govern better is basically King George. Dictatorships in service of ‘liberty’ are stull tyrannical.

            1. Most of these guys are promoting privilege for rural voters because rural voters tend toward being white, intolerant, Christian, and backward. If the rural areas become black (or Latino), tolerant, reason-based, and progressive, the yahoos will press to dismantle rural privilege.

          2. “Democracy isn’t self-government. It’s each other government. And that’s a huge difference.”

            Under this stupid definition, democracy is indistinguishable from totalitarianism, anarchy, theocracy, dictatorship, etc. Democracy is the only theory of government that is self-government.

            1. Look, democracy has nothing to do with whether you’re being oppressed or not. The majority are perfectly capable of putting a minority in gulags in a democracy; Ask Americans of Japanese ancestry about that.

              All democracy is, is a procedure for selecting the oppressor.

              That’s why we have constitutionally limited democracy in America: To take some forms of oppression off the table, say they’re not permitted even if the majority wants them.

              I’m saying, don’t confuse how you select your oppressor, with whether or not you’re oppressed. They’re separate issues.

              1. No, no, no, no. They are not separate issues.

                If your oppressor gets selected by some process having nothing to do with you, that is a far cry from you selecting, holding responsible, and removing if necessary, the people who govern. That is the safeguard built into popular sovereignty?a safeguard which became the key to its near-worldwide acceptance, at least as an ideal.

                When the all-powerful sovereign is a composite of his own individually powerless subjects, the sovereign will heed and forebear the latter. Not at all like what happens in an undemocratic system.

                A tendency to conflate those two quite different realities is one of the fundamental flaws which weaken libertarian theory.

                1. 85 years ago this month, Hitler consolidated his rule through a democratic election (March 5th) and the parliament so elected passing the Enabling Act (March 23).

                  I’m sure it was of great comfort to German Jews that they were allowed to vote against their oppressor before he slaughtered them.

                  1. Hitler does not disprove the virtue of democracy.

                    Necessary is not the same as sufficient.

                  2. DRM, happenstance can deliver outsize power to electoral minorities in unpredictable ways. That’s true in parliamentary systems?where minorities commonly “win” elections, in the sense of getting command of national policy?but also in our system?where minorities can command national policy by winning swing voters who aggregate but a small proportion of the whole electorate.

                    What point are you trying to make by exampling the Nazis? That majorities had too much power? Did the Nazis ever command a majority in any national election?

              2. All democracy is, is a procedure for selecting the oppressor.


              3. “Look, democracy has nothing to do with whether you’re being oppressed or not.”

                There are certain types of oppression that are antithetical to democracy. So, for instance, if you are a “democracy” that only allows 1% of your population to vote, you aren’t a democracy. If you routinely imprison political dissidents merely for their speech, you can’t be a democracy, because the people aren’t free to replace their leaders.

                “That’s why we have constitutionally limited democracy in America…”

                Just revisionist bullshit.

      4. One-person-one-vote is the reality and there will be no going back to state legislatures with disproportionate representation. What is needed is effective rural home rule. I would argue that there is an equal protection problem where rural voters are denied the same kind of control over their communities that municipal voters have over theirs.

        1. Right, Reynolds v Simms was one of those irreversible entropic acts, like scrambling an egg. Even if it was a mistake, it’s a done deal, no going back.

        2. Yup, it’s one of those mistakes that can’t be undone absent a civil war and revolution. Much like the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act and the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

      5. Can you think of any cases of rural areas lording it over urban ones?

        And suppose the urban areas have a majority of the actual voters – not land area – people. Is it “lording it” to pass legislation the voters want?

        The way you protect the rights of individuals is by establishing limits on what government can do, not by saying, “Hey, let’s let this particular 30% of the electorate have as much power as the remains 70%.”

        Some issues are decided politically. Every individual rural voter should have the same voice in that process as every individual urban voter. Will the outcomes favor urban voters? Often, because, you see, in many states there are more of them.

        It seems you love the notion of state power, until it doesn’t produce results you like, at which point you start screaming for new states.

        1. “And suppose the urban areas have a majority of the actual voters – not land area – people. Is it “lording it” to pass legislation the voters want?”

          Notice how you elided the fact that the voters, the actual voters, might want different things in different places?

          The population of China and the US are vastly different. If you crammed us together in one state, China would end up dictating policy, no question. Would their greater population mean that the US wasn’t being ruled over in such a scenario?

          This isn’t about representing land instead of people. This is about taking seriously that people living under different circumstances have different interests.

          1. I didn’t elide a damn thing.

            But any time you have some form of aggregation you will have some of that. Maybe the people who live on the next block favor different policies than those who live on your block. Will we now break down into block-sized states?

            And, as I have said often, I have no problem at all with a fair amount of local autonomy on local matters. But too often, as in the case of the United States, that local autonomy carries with it hugely disproportionate influence over national policies. In those cases, it makes no sense to give those localized minorities the power to make decisions.

            And be careful, lots of what you see as “different interests” are different interests at all, but different opinions as to national or state-wide policy. Voters in the south tend to be conservative, for example. But that’s not ant sort of regional interest. There is no sensible reason they should have disproportionate influence over the election of the President say, because of that.

            And make no mistake, some things need to be decided at a higher level of aggregation. The effects of local policies can easily overflow local boundaries. Suppose, to take an obvious example, the issue is whether to go to war or not. Why should a minority of the population, owing to the accident of where it lives, be allowed to make that decision for the country?

        2. The difference is that rural conservatives are content to let urban liberals do as they please. Urban liberals are NOT content to let rural people do as they please. Liberalism is an inherently tyrannical belief system. Because it’s ideals runs contrary to human nature, it requires force and oppression.

          1. “The difference is that rural conservatives are content to let urban liberals do as they please.”

            No they aren’t, lolol

      6. nothing would get done unless it was in the interests of both.

        That’s silly, Brett. The status quo can plainly favor one group over another. Doing nothing, changing nothing, is not neutral.

  15. It’s all a question of balance. Nobody really has a good way of measuring what exactly the “right” balance is between power at different levels. Power at lower levels increases diversity of localities and arguably results in more responsive government (although I’m not sold on that concept – ask the average person who the president is and who their local mayor or analogue is. Ask them who their U.S. Senators are and then ask them who their local city council members are. More people usually know the former). But power at higher levels improves consistency and better handles things like environmental concerns and war.

    A lot of the recent complaints about states clamping down “too much” on municipalities tend to be about states prohibiting localities from restricting individual liberty. That’s one of the best uses of higher power.

    1. A lot of the recent complaints about states clamping down “too much” on municipalities tend to be about states prohibiting localities from restricting individual liberty.

      Could you give an example? Would you put local non-discrimination ordinances in that category?

  16. I live in a state where the state is acting to squelch blue municipal enclaves. I don’t see how the cities could become more independent here, however. The reason is that municipalities owe their existence to state enabling laws. States are not made up of a voluntary federation of cities. What the state enables, the state can disable.

    1. The people of a state could, in theory, adopt a state constitution that would have features of “intra-state” federalism. There is nothing which requires the electors of a state to adopt a unitary-type state government.

    2. Bingo.

      Besides, in most of the US, cities and counties enact the most harmful and unnecessary laws in the entire multi-level system (from busybodyism about what you keep in your garage or backyard, and how neat it is, to the predatory use of fines as highlighted in Ferguson). I’d much rather completely abolish cities as units of government, and let local populations organize private schemes such as the Irvine Company if they want to achieve “planning,” “diversity,” or any other debatably worthwhile idea over a large area. (The fact that such private entities would not have the use of eminent domain, nor police power beyond their own property rights, is a feature, not a bug.)

      Of course this is all the more reason to scrap discrimination law, so that these new communities (or the large housing complexes that already exist) can make themselves more homogeneous and thus remove the cause for most conflict and crime.

      1. So you don’t think cities should do things you disapprove of.

        Guess what. They mostly don’t care what you think, nor should they, except for the place you live, where your opinions should count just as much as other citizens’.

  17. You had my interest until offering the 10th Amendment as a source of influence.

    I am not sure it is even thought of as still being in the Constitution by the Federal Courts.

  18. Seems to me the problem is that *most* of the things at issue here fall into the category of issues that can’t be devolved to municipalities.

    The very fact that people often live in one municipality or county and travel to another means that devolving issues like discrimination laws, criminal statutes (drug legalization, etc..) or minimum wages isn’t an effective means to let each side have what they want but rather an overt preference for the less regulated option.

    The very facts that you cite about the difficulty of moving states are exactly what makes federalism plausible. Since you can still keep the same workers even if you move your factory over to a neighboring city making wage or discrimination laws at the city level isn’t really workable.

    1. That sounds a bit like the arguments communists make for not allowing freedom of exit. It isn’t the process here that has a preference for the less regulated option, it’s the people; If they wanted the more regulated option, they’d move into the more regulated jurisdiction.

  19. Would it not be easier and less disruptive to try to overturn Reynolds v. Sims? This would give back to the rural areas of the state, the veto authority over the cities that they used to have. Hopefully, as the Supreme Court is overtaken by strict constructionists, this may be viable.

  20. The biggest, most populous, units of local government already have a great deal of autonomy within their states. The real question is whether the voters and officials in those populous communities will allow voters in smaller communities the same kind of autonomy.

    1. I’m all for local autonomy on local matters.

      What I think is going on here is that the rural areas’ objections are to some degree on values issues, which are somewhat more complex.

  21. A difficult problem indeed, and different from that of allocations between the states and the federal governments. Both the states and the federal government are repositories of sovereignty. But local governments are creations of the state’s sovereignty.They are nothing except what state constitutions and statutes make them.

  22. BigChiefWahoo said: “The biggest, most populous, units of local government already have a great deal of autonomy within their states. The real question is whether the voters and officials in those populous communities will allow voters in smaller communities the same kind of autonomy.”

    My experience is limited to Texas. There (and I think elsewhere), home rule cities have all governmental powers not denied to them by state law, whereas general law cities have only such powers as are specifically delegated to them. But that’s only because state law says so. Legislatures can and regularly do circumscribe home-rule authority when controversial issues arise.

    Taking away that power of the legislatures would surely require state constitutional amendments.

  23. Cities are overwhelmingly run by liberal morons who impose ridiculous laws like bans on plastic bags, anti-discrimination laws for sexually deviant/confused people, and laws requiring guns to be locked up while in the shower. Limit voting to men who own property or pay federal income taxes, have IQs above 100, and who can pass a civic literacy test, and we can talk.

  24. The basic problem here is that cities are legal creations of the states in which they reside. Ditto the counties. And that means that what a state creates, the state can essentially take away.

    An interesting quasi exception here are Colorado Home Rule cities. A decade or so ago, the state enacted universal gun laws. The city and county of Denver sued to exempt itself (the law was mostly aimed at them in the first place), and, surprisingly won as to universal gun laws, but lost as to shall-issue concealed carry (prior to that, only friends of the Sheriff there (who was appointed by the Mayor, which meant friends of his) got CCW permits in Denver, but they were generally available elsewhere in the state). The rational for the exemption was that Denver was a Home Rule city and county, which were provided for by the CO Constitution. But, the exception here, essentially illustrates the rule, that state law most often trumps city law, unless you can find some exception in the state constitution.

    And, I suspect that a federal law would fail through federalism, unless somehow it could be tied somehow to the Bill of Rights (made applicable to the states through the 14th Amdt). Except for the imposition of proportional representation, by the federal courts, interpreting the U.S. Constitution as it applied to the states, my interpretation is that the federal govt. cannot actually control the operation and organization of the states.

  25. This is another debate that is fixed by removing power from DC. Per the constitution. At the same time that would include SCOTUS staying out of political debates, ie Abortion

    1. Yeah, this isn’t a political debate at all, only the stuff you want the Court to shut up about is political!

      I do like how you assume a Constitution that magically supports all your policy preferences.

  26. Interesting article here about how a California city opted out of the State’s fire protection system, with it’s massive pension debt, and set up its own fire department with a 401K retirement system.

    Wonder if the State lets this stand.

    Opt out

  27. I live in a “home rule charter” county in Washington State (there are only a few), and the promise of greater liberty has proved to be a complete farce – a danger, if anything. While of course we’re still subject to all the ills of over-reach in respect to federal and state powers, we’re now also targeted by environmental groups like CELDF (Theresa Heinz’s group, look ’em up) who seek to limit liberty by inserting “rights of nature” clauses into local policy, and have sought to inject social justice “rights” into the county charter. Our local county council just invested $150,000 for a legal study by a left-wing “environmental law” consultant in Seattle, asking how the county council might block interstate commerce through cleverly-worded zoning regulations. We have two local refineries and an industrial area that are being targeted because deep-blue/deep-green parties want to put an end all “carbon dependency.” The point I’m making is that power corrupts on all levels, and “local” government power has the potential of being as tyrannical as any other when ‘majorities’ take power locally. The 10th Amendment offers no protection to individuals in respect to local dictates, which can be quite oppressive (uncompensated regulatory takings, for example).

    1. Sounds like normal political activity to me. Did you expect that everyone in your county would agree with you about everything?

  28. Ohio’s experience with “Mayor’s Courts” suggests there are drawbacks.

  29. What the bleep is the State Constitution for if not to define their organization, define their duties, and define their LIMITATIONS!
    The whole Constitutional Republic under LAW idea was to limit the role of government in the lives of We The People. This is the reason that democracy was limited to the district level and below. The the federal government was limited to their duties and by the first 10 Amendments as to their authority.

    How far have we fallen!

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