Fair-Weather Friends of Federalism

Article excerpt

When President Bush endorsed a proposed Constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, some on the Left began singing a somber tune. "We are losing our precious federalism!" they lamented.

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times all complained that the amendment would prevent states from "doing their job" in our federal system. Talk about selective attachment to the principle of federalism. Talk about bad faith.

Many of those now complaining that a Constitutional amendment would needlessly nationalize the issue of same-sex marriage have for years insisted that the issue of abortion had to be nationalized, that Roe v. Wade's judicial edict must be enforced in all the states, that leaving localities to set their own abortion policies would be an abomination.

And what about the recent Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated a Texas law criminalizing homosexual acts? The New York Times and company couldn't cheer loudly enough for that ruling--which violates all principles of federalism and local self-determination in the area of social policy.

Will all those championing federalism as a means of solving the battle over same-sex marriage allow the same solution on abortion and homosexual conduct? Will we see states' rights editorials in the New York Times? Don't hold your breath.

A principled case can be made for allowing each state to fashion its own marriage policy. But true, principled federalism would cover much more than just same-sex marriage. And real federalism, contrary to what activists in San Francisco and elsewhere now countenance, would mean letting public policies on same-sex marriage--and other topics--be made by state legislatures. …