The Spectacle Blog

Federalism, But Only When We Feel Like It

By on 1.17.06 | 12:03PM

Surely, assisted suicide is a state issue: The federal government doesn't belong in the middle of a state-regulated doctor-patient relationship. Except the Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich, the medical marijuana case, that the feds do indeed belong right there. I've only read summaries of the opinions so far, but it sounds like Thomas is spot on: Kennedy pretends to make a statutory ruling based on the Controlled Substances Act, but in fact makes a constitutional ruling at odds with Raich. (Thomas correctly dissented in Raich; Kennedy joined the majority.) O'Connor, at least, is a consistent federalist (whether or not the justification makes sense), but she's leaving the Court. Kennedy and the liberals are willing to check federal power when they feel like it, but only so long as they retain the veto and don't actually establish a general principle. The hubris is breathtaking.

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