Sheriffs talk tough on Second Amendment (unnecessarily)

A number of sheriffs around the country (Oregon, Kentucky, Missouri, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah) have said they will refuse to enforce federal restrictions on private gun ownership that they find to be in conflict with the Constitution.

It seems like a bold threat, but it really isn’t. State and local law enforcement officials simply don’t have to enforce federal laws that they don’t want to enforce. That fact is not controversial. It is, however, a persistent issue in the federal versus state struggle over the marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington. Those states have simply chosen to stop assisting the federal government. It may complicate the feds’ ability to enforce those laws, but it’s just not as confrontational an approach as media reports have suggested.

Robert Mikos discussed this in his new paper with respect to marijuana laws, but the principles related to how states and federal powers interact is one that holds significant implications for the right to keep arms and the President’s health care law.

Mikos and I discussed the marijuana initiatives for a Cato Daily Podcast. You can also watch the forum.

Tim Lynch and I also discussed gun restrictions and federalism in a Cato E-Briefing last week.

An Apology

To the older besuited gentleman in the Infiniti or Lexus who slammed on his brakes, honked and then angrily gestured at me as I crossed the street in front of his car:

I’m sorry I flipped you the bird. It’s a rude gesture. Next time I’ll just point to the crosswalk I’m using.


Hank for Senate?

Sounds great!

Oh, maybe not …

It appears that Canines for a Feline Free Tomorrow SuperPAC is taking issue with the Hank for Senate campaign.

Imposing National Standards

Next month, the Obama Administration will begin granting waivers to states that are not on track to meet proficiency requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will be granting these waivers selectively, based mostly on states’ willingness to abide by new executive branch mandates not included in NCLB, likely including adopting national curriculum standards.

Duncan has the authority under NCLB to grant waivers, but not to compel states to jump through administration hoops in order to earn them, as Neal McCluskey has documented clearly.

As Neal notes in today’s Cato Daily Podcast, essentially imposing national standards – as well as other potential waiver demands – represents a large-scale assertion of federal executive power over local education:

We’ve broken any semblance of a Constitutional balance of power between the executive and the legislative branch. Now the President is just going to dictate to every school what they’re going to teach. And that is a giant threat to freedom and to the American education system.

A broader recognition that the Constitution grants neither Congress nor the President any role in education would go a long way toward fixing these problems. NCLB may be, to quote Arne Duncan, “a slow-motion train wreck,” but using that law to transfer power away from parents, states and Congress is easily a solution worse than the problem.

Markets Aren’t Created by Mandates

So this is a strange lede …

As many legislatures around the country have finished their work for the year, fewer than one-fourth of states have taken concrete steps to create health insurance marketplaces, a central feature of the federal law to overhaul the U.S. health-care system.

Vegas in One Sentence

“In Vegas, not so much a city that became a metaphor as a metaphor that became a city, you have America’s two great contributions to modern civilization: annihilation and fun.” – Steve Erickson

Poor Eric Holder

Congress just can’t wait to find something wrong with the job Eric Holder is doing. From the article entitled, “For Holder, New Congress Means New Headaches“:

Mr. Holder is a particularly juicy target because he presides over issues that have served as recurrent fodder for political controversy — including using the criminal justice system for terrorism cases, and federal enforcement of civil-rights and immigration laws.

Cue sound effect:

Interesting how a story about Congress performing one of its most basic oversight functions can be cast as a tale of woe for the office needing the oversight.