On what must be officially “What The Hell Were We Thinking Day”, Louis R. Lombardi over at Legal Insurrection shares my sentiments expressed in my last post and many of the others here at TRNL:
With the backlash to the ever growing power of the federal government and its increased dominance in our lives, one must ask, how did this behemoth come to be in the first place?
First, a little constitutional primer is in order to understand our current predicament. Under our constitutional system of government, the federal government is only supposed to have enumerated (limited) powers, while the states have plenary or general powers. Under this system, the federal government can only act in areas it is given authority to act such as national defense, while the states have general police powers to regulate the health, education and welfare of its citizenry. This separation of powers amongst the federal and state governments is better known as federalism and is an important cog in our governance as it keeps the central government from acquiring too much power and becoming oppressive. Yet, the federal government over the past few generations has been slowing usurping the states’ police powers. How can this happen and why would the states allow it to happen?
For the most part, states have been willing participants in this process. With the offer of federal dollars, no traditional state power has been sacred. Remember when we had a national speed limit? How did this come to pass even though the states have the inherent right to regulate their own roads without federal interference? Well, in order to qualify for federal dollars for road improvements, the states had to agree to the 55 mph speed limit. State treasuries loaded with money made it easier to give up power. Today, there is no national speed limit but we have a national drunk driving limit based on the same principle. Now don’t get me wrong, drunk driving is a scourge that needs to be combated; but just because it is a good thing to do, doesn’t mean we should not have concerns about how it came to be, because eventually after enough “good” decisions have been made for you, you will have no power to make any decisions for yourself – good or bad.
To those unfamiliar with Mr. Lombardi, here is his bio:
Louis Lombardi is a retired NYC police captain and attorney. He currently resides in State College, PA where he teaches at a local community college along with practicing law. Additionally, he writes a monthly column for the local newspaper, the Centre Daily times and he has his own blog at http://www.obpopulus.wordpress.com. Mr. Lombardi is married and a father of three lovely daughters.