Obama’s Fake Federalism

20. Nov, 2009
Comments 5
by Gene Healy, CATO Institute

This article appeared in the DC Examiner on November 17, 2009.

Friends of federalism cheered last month when the Obama administration reversed the Bush policy of prosecuting medical marijuana cases in states that have legalized the practice. Welcome though that change was, let’s hold the applause.

Not yet a year into his administration, Obama’s record on 10th Amendment issues is already clear: He’ll let the states have their way when their policies please blue team sensibilities and he’ll call in the feds when they don’t. Thus, he’ll grant California a waiver to allow it to raise auto emissions standards, but he’ll bring the hammer down when the state tries to cut payments to unionized health care workers.

That’s not how it’s supposed to work. As Madison explained in Federalist 45, the powers delegated to the federal government were “few and defined,