It should be obvious to anyone who reads newspapers that the Kansas legislature is extremely conservative and is currently given to introducing anti-national-government legislation.  Paradoxically, this “hate national government” legislation could be the best thing that has happened to sane and rational conservatives (of the Eisenhower type), moderates, and liberals.

The tea bag movement, along with their patrons and promoters, are constantly using demagoguery to warp the “Founders’ intentions” into their own views of government.  I would love to have a debate concerning the Founders’ intentions – as well as Supreme Court interpretations of those intentions – with my tea bagger friends and other extremists on the right.

For instance, Kansas Senate Concurrent Resolution 1615 claims that “Many federal laws are in direct violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”  The resolution doesn’t say exactly which federal laws are unconstitutional.  Nor do they say why these laws have not been tested in the courts – especially in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ironically, the resolution does reference a Supreme Court decision (New York v. United States, 505, S. Ct. 144), which seriously undermines the very argument the conservatives are trying to make.  The decision, written by Sandra Day O’Connor and joined by a very conservative majority of Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, and the more moderate Souter, does indeed say that the federal government cannot “commandeer” ( word used in the resolution) a state government.

The case simply held that the U.S. Congress could not, through legislation, force a state to regulate low level radioactive waste.  However, the opinion made it clear that Congress could provide for federal regulation of low level radioactive waste.  In the same vein, the Congress cannot force states to pass occupational safety and health legislation but the Occupational Safety and Health Act is constitutional and employers are bound to adhere to safety standards as promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  One can think of an inordinate number of such laws, passed with good reason, to which employers, institutions, and individuals are bound.

The U.S. society is just too big and complex – with serious problems that span the entire nation – to leave many issues to the States alone.  In fact, in regard to the constitutional framework intended by the founders, Justice O’Connor wrote the following in New York v. United States:

“This framework has been sufficiently flexible over the past two centuries to allow for enormous changes in the nature of government.  The Federal Government undertakes activities today that would have been unimaginable to the Framers in two senses; first, because the Framers would not have conceived that any government would conduct such activities; and second, because the Framers would not have believed that the Federal government, rather than the States, would assume such responsibilities.  Yet the powers conferred upon the Federal Government by the Constitution were phrased in language broad enough for the expansion of the Federal Government role.”  (Page 157)

I am hoping that this resolution and a pending constitutional amendment (about which I will blog at a later date) make it through the legislature.  LET’S BEGIN THE DEBATE! This is a discussion I would love to have.  I would love to engage my extreme-right-wing-libertarian friends in an argument about the benefits of federal programs.  The following is a list of just a few of the items I would like to see on the agenda for discussion:

  • What has the intersection of two interstate highways done for the City of Salina?
  • Why did the entire Kansas delegation fight for the bio-terrorism facility coming to Manhattan, Kansas?
  • Do the conservatives in the State and National legislatures want to introduce bills that would repeal Medicare and Social Security?  Do they want the Federal government to stop all funding of grants at our Universities? 

These are just a few of the items that should be up for discussion.  I would definitely like to hear what Congresswoman Jenkins and the other Republicans representing us have to say about them.