On Federalism, States' Rights, and the Power of Coercion

By Dan Cadman on May 9, 2016

Various media outlets are reporting on a letter sent to the North Carolina governor from the Department of Justice (DOJ) threatening to withhold millions of federal dollars if something is not done to void the recently enacted state statute requiring that, in public places, individuals use bathrooms consistent with the gender reflected on their birth certificates (see here and here).

This is not the only evident use of the coercive powers of the federal government to achieve goals consistent with the "Obama agenda." Something similar has happened with the Department of Education in its oversight of universities and colleges on the matter of sexual violence on campus (see here and here). I do not suggest that sexual violence, or indeed assault of any kind, should be tolerated on campuses; I do question whether the administration is painting with too broad a brush, given that some of the incidents that triggered the massive DOE response of opening hundreds of investigations later proved false.

What have these two instances of the wielding of federal power to do with immigration? Nothing ... and everything. Compare the above near-instantaneous reactions to issues dear to the hearts of liberals and progressives with the anemic non-response of the federal government toward state and local governments that have over the past few years initiated sanctuary laws and policies leading to the release of thousands of alien felons back to the streets, rather than turning them over to agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

How is it that the administration can lift the terrible weight of its Thor's hammer against things such as bathroom use while blithely ignoring the responsibility of the lower strata of governments to acknowledge federal supremacy over illegal immigration — even as it sued the pants off of Arizona for attempting to aid in federal enforcement?

More cogently, if this administration is truly concerned with the public safety and commonweal of its citizenry, how have they remained so indifferent to the multiplicity of murders and maimings that have occurred subsequent to release of alien felons by state and local police and correctional departments?