It was pretty weird to read in the paper that the Supreme Count had a 6-3 opinion where the three were Rehnquist, Thomas, and O’Connor (with Scalia in the majority). And even weirder that I agreed with Rehnquist and Thomas. Such are the bedfellows that medicinal pot makes; I guess it’s not all that surprising that it’s the sort of issue that could bring together a strange coalition.
I’m honestly not sure what I think about the whole interstate commerce thing, and skimming the opinion hasn’t helped much. In general, I think the left is a bit confused on this issue: we end up supporting decisions that rest on the interstate commerce clause not because we agree with the logic but because we have more faith in the federal government than in state governments, at least in issues where the clause could be applicable. Which is problematic for two reasons:
- The constitution is important, so we should try to support Supreme Court decisions with reasoning based on the constitution itself.
- I’m not at all convinced that, in general, pragmatic reasons should cause us to support the federal government over state governments.
I tend to agree with some people on the right that the interstate commerce clause is way over-applied. And certainly the pot laws are screwed up: it shouldn’t be illegal in the first place, never mind medicinal pot, and my understanding is that medicinal pot has the support of a significant majority of americans. So I would like to put those two together and say that the court made the wrong decision, but the truth is that I don’t really know where to draw the constitutional dividing line, and I will admit that the federal government should be allowed to pass misguided but constitutional laws.
Chalk up another one for the prison/military/industrial complex.
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