Rick Perry’s Faux Federalism

Aug 5 2011 @ 2:35pm

Michael Scherer spotlights it:

The federal marriage amendment, first proposed in 2004, would go further than simply stopping state or federal courts from imposing gay marriage in a state. “Marriage in the United States shall consist solely of the union of a man and a woman,” reads the first sentence. Dale Carpenter, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, has explained that the effect of this language would be “foreclosing not just courts but also state legislatures from recognizing same-sex marriages and perhaps other forms of legal support for same-sex relationships.” In other words, the people of the state of New York would no longer be able to define liberty  in their own lives.

This runs contrary, in spirit, to Perry’s stated views.

“The Constitution does not empower Congress to make decisions about morality for the American people,” he writes in his book. Perry finds a way, however, by arguing that amending the U.S. Constitution is, in fact, an act driven by the states, since 38 of the 50 states must act to ratify any amendment for it to be adopted. “Our Constitution was designed to respect states including the amendment process,” Perry told Perkins. “The overall constitutional protection, if you will, by and how we amend our United States Constitution to reflect the values of the nation as whole is very important.”

Benen shakes his head at the contradictions. Steve Chapman situates Perry's views within a long history of the GOP paying lip service to federalism and then ignoring it:

When there is a conflict between state sovereignty and conservative policies, [Republican] reverence for the 10th Amendment abruptly goes by the wayside. That became apparent several years ago, when the Bush administration asserted its power to prevent Californians from using medical marijuana after the state allowed it. It also tried to block an Oregon law allowing doctor-assisted suicide. Attorney General John Ashcroft had no qualms about mobilizing the fearsome resources of the federal government when states veered out of line.

Friedersdorf recently noted Perry's abandonment of another federalist position – leaving abortion to the states.