“You don’t have to make a federal case out of it!”
When I was a kid, we used to use that phrase a lot, when people would get all apoplectic about some issue that really wasn’t that big of a deal.
Well, today I find myself using that phrase on pretty much a daily basis, because the DC’vers can’t seem to resist the temptation to make a federal case out of – well – pretty much everything. And the feds have zero constitutional authority to stick their collective noses into just about everything they meddle about in.
In the latest example, we have a U.S. senator calling for hearings on state self-defense laws. In the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict, Sen. Dick Durbin announced Friday that the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights “will examine the gun lobby’s and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in creating and promoting these laws; the way in which the laws have changed the legal definition of self-defense; the extent to which the laws have encouraged unnecessary shooting confrontations; and the civil rights implications when racial profiling and ‘stand your ground’ laws mix, along with other issues.”
Pres. Obama also weighed in on the issue.
“It may be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations, confrontations, and tragedies as we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations,” the president said. “I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?” Obama said. “And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”
Who’s we, Barack?
If you’re personally inclined to “examine” the stand your ground law in your home state of Illinois, then by all means, have at it. (Yes, the Prairie State has one, and as a state senator, Obama co-sponsored a bill to strengthen it.) But you have absolutely no business pointing federal noses toward state laws. And Durbin needs to heed that sage childhood advice and “not make a federal case out of it,” because the feds have zero authority here.
Self-defense laws fall under “police powers” – the “power of the State to place restraints on the personal freedom and property rights of persons for the protection of public safety, health and morals, or the promotion of the public convenience and general prosperity.”
Police powers fall fully under state authority, as Madison made clear in Federalist 45, pointing out that “the powers reserved to the several States will extend to all objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.”
This coming from the guy who actually proposed a federal veto over all state laws during the Philadelphia Convention. He didn’t get his way.
In other words, regardless of their opinions on the issue, Congress and the president have no authority to interpose themselves into the stand your ground issue. If the people of a given state want to reexamine those laws through their state legislators, that is certainly their prerogative. But for the feds to insert themselves represents raw usurpation – plain and simple.
Some will try to argue the 14th Amendment gives the feds the authority to tinker with state police power, but the guy who drafted the amendment disagrees.
“The care of the property, liberty and the life of the citizen, under the solomn sanction of an oath imposed by your Federal Constitution, is in the States, not in the Federal Government. I have sought to effect no change in that respect in the Constitution of the country.”
So, quite simply, Durbin, Obama and company really need to butt out of state self-defense laws. I assume they have enough to keep them busy figuring out whom to indefinitely detain, and what foreign conflict to get us involved in next.