Skip to content
Advertisements

Secession Week 2010: Federalism and Secession

July 2, 2010

Here we are, the fifth day of Secession Week 2010! Today we’ve decided to broaden the focus a bit from what we’ve promised (the constitutionality of secession) and instead, also discuss the successes and failures of federalism in general.

Today’s Posts

From elsewhere in the blogosphere:

Last year, we characterized Federalism as Secession Lite, and discussed a few of its vices and virtues.

Introduction to Today’s Topic

A screenwriter named Daniel Turkewitz had an idea for a movie–it was about Maine seceding from the U.S.–but he didn’t know if the concept was feasible. So he thought he’d write to an expert. He sent a query to Antonin Scalia on the constitutionality of secession and, remarkably, he received a reply.

Scalia’s letter (to the left) reads:

“I am afraid I cannot be of much help with your problem, principally because I cannot imagine that such a question could ever reach the Supreme Court. To begin with, the answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, ‘one Nation, indivisible.’) Secondly, I find it difficult to envision who the parties to this lawsuit might be. Is the State suing the United States for a declaratory judgment? But the United States cannot be sued without its consent, and it has not consented to this sort of suit.

“I am sure that poetic license can overcome all that — but you do not need legal advice for that. Good luck with your screenplay.”

Constitutional issues are not “resolved” by the use of force. Presumably they are resolved when conflicting interests consent to the moral authority of the document and its methods of resolving disputes. If at some future date an Idaho or New Hampshire were to secede, it is no argument to say the issue was resolved at Appomattox or to quote the Pledge of Allegiance as a founding document. The legitimacy of that secession will hinge on how much moral weight people give to preserving the Union at that time. The word of Scalia is neither timeless nor holy.

However Scalia is correct in one important respect. Yes, the moral question about the right to secede was not settled in 1865, but the political question was. Among many other things, the Civil War represents a major shift in power between the States and the Federal government. Without the political right to secede, the States’s side at the negotiating table has continually weakened. An old maxim in chess–that the threat is better than the execution–could no longer help States push back against expansionary Federal command and control. This is not to say that all Federal interventions have been bad–as with enforcing the Civil Rights acts, the Feds can effectively protect the rights of citizens against state transgressions–but the overall trend has greatly diminished state-level policy experimentation and has helped stifle value pluralism, two of the highest virtues of a federal system.  We seem to live in the great age of centralization and conformism. The tragedy is that the distance between knowledge on the ground and decision-making power at the top has never been greater.

What exactly is the ideal form of federalism? And, without the right to secede, is it possible to maintain it?  Are there any backdoors to restoring the balance of powers? Today’s posts will discuss these issues from a variety of angles.

Share

Advertisements
11 Comments
  1. April 10, 2014 9:07 am

    Hi there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the fantastic work!

  2. June 11, 2014 2:33 am

    As a result of the need in controlling and regulating industry through both
    direct and indirect methods, two steps must be carried out.
    It provides comprehensive solutions to every accounting problem related to your business.
    Other coins were surmised to have been issued by employers,
    noblemen and merchants for their private uses.

  3. June 26, 2014 8:07 pm

    When you think about the amount of time a person can spend in the
    gym or in the kitchen preparing food low in calories, you can begin to appreciate how important it is to ensure that any weight
    loss product will not take a long time to actually use it.
    Aerosolspray paint can be used for wide variety of purposes.
    The salons that are being discussed here are the ones that have the people as well as the products that would make the
    common man look good. This means that in an hour, you can complete the tanning for 6 clients.
    Sunless tanning has become a billion dollar industry as this type
    of tanning has taken the world by storm. Therefore, make sure that their spray tanning equipment is clean and well maintained.
    Whichever the case, do not use the tanning solutions for too long,
    or you will look like a blistered crab rather
    than a sexy, beach-tanned hottie. Make sure that it is working well by trying it out regularly or by conducting a spark test.
    Special parts of attention are your knees and lower legs,
    your ankles and feet, plus your elbows. You can also get a UV -free
    tanning done on yourself.

  4. September 4, 2014 3:43 pm

    The B5 Regimen is a treatment plan that utilizes Vitamin B5 to cure acne.
    Don’t let yourself be baffled, acquiring benefits on the <. It is though because you just need to take drops timely and live the way you are doing.

  5. September 18, 2014 10:26 pm

    This artificial fragrance, alcohols will create pain and
    skin irritation. In order to get a rich and spotless tan while keeping your skin smooth and
    glowing, it is necessary to use the best quality tanning products.
    Of course, a fresh coconut cake is always a special treat at Christmastime, just as using coconut in the favorite holiday fruit salad of the
    south, Ambrosia.

Trackbacks

  1. Happy Fourth, Switzerland! : Considering the “Great Inversion” « Let A Thousand Nations Bloom
  2. The Tenth Amendment was Bound to Fail « Let A Thousand Nations Bloom
  3. Let 560 Nations Bloom – Within the Boundaries of the U.S. « Let A Thousand Nations Bloom
  4. Upcoming: Secession Week Blogging 2010! « Let A Thousand Nations Bloom
  5. Secession Week 2010: Federalism and Secession « Secession and Nullification — News & Information
  6. Independence Day Round Up « Let A Thousand Nations Bloom

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: