Federalism can’t dismiss the Ninth Amendment.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Via Hit & Run, this Ron Hart column discusses federalism:

My solution to the unworkable yet appealing idea of secession is to devolve more powers to the states and fewer to Washington. It is what our Founding Fathers intended. And if you read the Federalist Papers, you will realize that they never intended our central government in Washington to be this expansive and overbearing.

So far, I’m on board. Unfortunately, Mr. Hart succumbs to the same mistake that too many libertarians make, including me.

If you want an abortion, then move to a state that allows it. If you want to smoke weed, then go to California. If you think that we should pay for everything a lazy welfare person demands, then go to a state that gives them flat-screen TVs and, instead of government cheese, offers an assortment of French cheeses that are both delicious and presented in a pleasing manner.

The basic reason that we fought for our independence is to do what we damn well please as long as it does not harm others. …

We would all need to move to a city bordering several states so that we could partake of a range of freedoms. Not the range, of course, because this view leaves plenty of space for naked majoritarianism.

I live in Northern Virginia, where D.C., Maryland, and West Virginia can be reached in roughly an hour (if D.C. traffic magically disappears). Under this view of federalism, if I want to smoke marijuana, play blackjack, buy porn, and enter a same-sex marriage contract, I’m positioned well, as long as each state/district offers one of the four. I’d better keep my car gassed up and my appointment book clear, lest I not have the capacity to drive all over the mid-Atlantic region to exercise my inherent liberties in a place where everyone has agreed that I may exercise them.

Kip offered the necessary summation to this ridiculous view in the comments to the entry I referenced above, which I believe (hope) was the last time I made this mistake:

…”federalism” does not mean that it’s any better to have one’s liberties infringed at the state level than at the federal level.

Exactly. Small-l libertarianism is about liberty, not blind hatred of the federal government or the silly belief that local is better.

One thought on “Federalism can’t dismiss the Ninth Amendment.”

  1. My solution to the unworkable yet appealing idea of secession is to devolve more powers to the states and fewer to Washington.
    The states shouldn’t have to beg anyone to regain powers that were wrongly usurped from them in the first place.
    Mr Hart says he believes that peaceful secession is unworkable but doesn’t tell us why.
    I suspect what he really means is that he doesn’t think it’s possible because the federal government would use force to stop such a move.
    Personally, I’m all in favor of secession as long as it doesn’t result in the creation of a new centralized government (like the Confederate States of America or whatever).
    Also, I have no illusions about the federal government acting as the guardian of my rights or liberties.
    The only thing Washington cares about anymore is how much of our money it can extract and squander while it thumbs its nose at us.

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