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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Federalism Flip-Flops, Continued

As previous posts have noted, strong-government liberals have embraced states' rights on issues such as marriage and marijuana.  Conversely, conservatives sometimes want the federal government to override the states.  The Los Angeles Times reports:
The U.S. government has the power to block the laws of California or any other state if the statutes have an impact on interstate commerce or otherwise interfere with federal authority. But Washington has tended to do that sparingly. Democrats there typically don't have a problem with the state's liberal policies, and Republicans have preferred to avoid infringing on states' rights.
But Republicans have taken up the argument that they need to curb such regulatory trailblazing to protect the rights of other states, particularly deep-red ones that don't want their industries faced with either following California's rules or being cut off from the country's biggest market. They argue that the state's regulations have gotten more aggressive. State officials say a more conservative Republican Party now puts business interests ahead of protecting states from Washington's authority.
Beyond the proposed federal Chemical Safety Improvement Act, a wide range of California measures are under siege. Agricultural interests have persuaded much of Congress that a state law prohibiting the sale of eggs laid by hens confined to tiny cages should be invalidated. California's foie gras ban has been under attack, as has its ban on the sale of inefficient light bulbs.
A proposed rule by one federal agency threatens the state's ban on cutting fins off sharks to sell for soup. A House panel recently amended a transportation bill to shift final authority over California's planned high-speed rail line to Congress, where many Republicans complain the project infringes on the rights of landowners in its path.
A measure that would have blocked California's authority to enforce state water law protections for endangered species made it through the House last year, though it stalled in the Senate.
"It's a constant push and pull," said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law. "When a state puts in regulations a business finds onerous, it turns to Congress."