Thursday, February 16, 2012

Vermont and State's Rights: The Fundamental Problem

The Fundamental Problem Of State's Rights

States that espouse State's Rights in contention against the federal government are also more likely to consider themselves a law unto themselves, and trample on the rights of their own citizens.

David Hume pointed out the fundamental problem with state's rights, though he didn't use the term. Small jurisdictions are more easily captured by "factions and intrigue" which can trample the rights of the citizens. As Hume wrote:

We ... observ(e) the falsehood of the common opinion, that no large state, such as France or Great Britain, could ever be modelled into a commonwealth, but that such a form of government can only take place in a city or small territory. The contrary seems probable...(In a large state) the parts are so distant and remote, that it is very difficult, either by intrigue, prejudice, or passion, to hurry them into any measures against the public interest.

Hume's words were further refined in the Federalist papers, where Hamilton wrote:

Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic, -- is enjoyed by the Union over the States composing it....The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States.

So we have defined the problem philosophically: the potential tyranny of a small state over its citizens, unless checked by a Constitution or by federal powers.

Civil rights were enacted at the Federal level. That wasn't by chance. The Bill of Rights is also at the Federal level. Again, not by chance.

When a state begins stepping on the Constitution, it will soon begin stepping on its citizens.

Hume from Wikipedia

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