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Thursday, June 16, 2005

the high cost of nuances

Thomas Sowell chimes in on the supreme's medical marijuana decision in his latest Townhall column. (Yes, it's from a couple days ago; I'm a little behind.)
Back in 1942, the Supreme Court authorized the vastly expanded powers of the federal government under Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration by declaring that a man who grew food for himself on his own land was somehow "affecting" prices of goods in interstate commerce and so the federal government had a right to regulate him.

Stretching and straining the law this way means that anything the federal government wants to do can be given the magic label "interstate commerce" -- and the limits on federal power under the 10th Amendment vanish into thin air.

Judicial activists love to believe that they can apply the law in a "nuanced" way, allowing the federal government to regulate some activities that do not cross state lines but not others. The problem is that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's nuances are different from Justice Antonin Scalia's nuances -- not only in the medical marijuana case but in numerous other cases.
Sowell also notes the irony in the timing of this decision:
Ironically, this decision was announced during the same week when Janice Rogers Brown was confirmed to the Circuit Court of Appeals. One of the complaints against her was that she had criticized the 1942 decision expanding the meaning of "interstate commerce." In other words, her position on this was the same as that of Clarence Thomas -- and both are anathema to liberals.

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