Saturday, November 20, 2004

What the Federalist Society Stands For; or: If You Don't Know What You Are Talking About, Please Shut the Hell Up

In Saturday's Counterpoint section of the Star Tribune's Opinion page (Motto: A forum for reactions and rebuttals - as long as they parrot the editorial board's psychopathic left-wing philosophy), an ill informed piece of tripe appeared, penned by a real estate appraiser named Luke Walbert. Apparently Luke (phone number 651-646-1759 - Aw, that's just wrong) has a problem with the Federalist Society. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Federalist Society, as Luke obviously is, I will introduce you. The Federalist Society is a national organization of attorneys who stand for strict construction of the Constitution, judicial restraint, and the primacy of the Rule of Law. I should know: I was Vice Chair of my law school's chapter of the FS back in the day (I ran for vice chair because it was the second highest rank in the chapter, and it required me to do absolutely nothing). Luke, on the other hand, is a real estate appraiser. This means that he is adept at using a tape measure. Enough background. Let's go to the excerpts:

So members of the Federalist Society ... want more federal judges who share their views opposing affirmative action and abortion and limiting federal regulation of private property rights. And they want more respect for states' rights.

My dictionary tells me that "federalism" and "federalists" are for a strong central government with an expectation that individual states give up a lot of sovereignty. An alternative definition describes the belief that the nations of the world should be "federated" and cede authority to a central global government, a view that I am quite sure these conservatives would not advocate.

The first problem that leaps out at me is that he his basing his entire thesis on what his dictionary says Federalism is. I will put my $80,000 legal education up against your Funk and Wagnells any day, buddy. The problem with your definition, Luke, is that it is missing a crucial element. The Federalists do believe in a strong, small and limited central government whose powers do not go beyond that which is enumerated in the Constitution.

So given that tiny little correction, Luke (see phone number above), your entire argument falls flat on its face in a most spectacular fashion by the third paragraph:

These so-called federalists don't seem to realize that the populism of the past ("a belief in the right, wisdom or virtues of the common people") has been institutionalized into the kind of modern federalism that Democrats and liberals advocate: broad federal government involvement in education, business, health care, environment and other areas of life, not just a narrow focus on criminal and security matters.

I will pause to allow the laughing to abate.

If that weren't bad enough, Luke shows his true colors by completely going off the rails, Trotsky-style:

We want the federal government to be involved in the ordinary, everyday aspects of our 21st-century lives such as how we connect to the electrical grid or information superhighway. We are not willing to trust an unregulated economic system where people like Ken Lay can cheat customers and still make a profit. A federal position on abortion and affirmative action developed because the questions of whether women are ultimately defined by their pregnancies, or people are by the color of their skin, are too important to allow 50 sets of answers in one nation.

Who is this "We" to which you refer, Pinko? I think that the fact that the Democrats haven't held Congress since it took a filibuster to stop Hillary-Care says quite clearly that "we" do not "want the federal government to be involved in the ordinary, everyday aspects" of our lives.

As for the abortion issue: there is nothing in the Constitution that says people have an inalienable liberty interest in abortion. There is not even an explicit right to privacy. The Supreme Court had to make one up to reach that result. To the contrary of what you contend Mr. Tape Measure Jockey, the legality or illegality of abortion is just the type of issue that makes a State/Federal government dichotomy necessary and desirable. It brings issues to a local level where people have more in common with each other; closer to the mores of a given society. Reasonable people can differ as to whether abortion is nothing more than emergency birth control or is the murder of a human being. When you have differences, you debate and reach compromises. The people can make or refuse to make a law. Or they can amend the Constitution. Where does this process take place, Mr. Square Footage?


The Federalist Society is for nothing more than promoting debate about how the Constitution ought to be interpreted (the Federalist's position is: "by reading it first". This is somehow controversial for coastal libs and real estate appraisers). Federal judges are appointed for life and accountable to no one. The FS takes the radical position that someone occupying that station of power ought to tread lightly. The FS is opposed to the type of tyranny you wish to impose, Luke.

The Constitution grants the Federal government limited and enumerated powers. The Bill of Rights sets out certain individual rights for the citizenry. It goes on to reserve any unenumerated or unprohibited powers for the states or to the people (10th Amendment). To put that last sentence a little more succinctly for you real estate appraisers out there: Tenth Amendment equals "states' rights". Now please stop acting like states' rights do not exist.

That's Federalism.

Now shut up.

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