Comment rescue: Eric on local authorities defying federal law

In a comment on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Eric wrote:

My beef with this was that, just as with sanctuary cities, you have situations where left wingers think they can just ignore federal law. I would love to ask these leftards what they would think if a conservative city or state decided it wanted to make its own laws on abortion or gay “Marriage”.

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D-PA) is led away from the Montgomery County Courthouse in handcuffs.

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D-PA) is led away from the Montgomery County Courthouse in handcuffs.

The left were delighted when state Attorney General Kathleen Kane1 (D-PA) refused to defend the Commonwealth’s law defining legal marriage solely as between one man and one woman, and the American Civil Liberties Union praised her very political decision.

The Los Angeles Times noted the trend of state Attorneys General, mostly but not exclusively Democrats, declining to defend laws with which they disagreed:

Almost as soon as North Carolina passed House Bill 2, which preempted locally enacted civil rights protections for gay and transgender people, the state’s attorney general, Roy Cooper, announced that his office would not defend it against the inevitable constitutional lawsuits. Cooper, who is running for governor in North Carolina, called HB2 a “national embarrassment” and insisted it was unconstitutional.

The attorney general’s decision represents a trend. More and more state attorneys general are refusing to defend divisive laws, especially those championed by opposition party governors and legislatures. Many seem to have concluded that nondefense of state laws is an option to be exercised in the service of politics.

Until 2008, nondefense was almost unheard of. That year then-California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown refused to defend Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. Since then, 16 other attorneys general have refused to defend state laws. Democrats refuse to defend gun rights legislation and anti-same-sex-marriage laws. Republicans refuse to defend campaign finance restrictions, gun control laws and protections for gays and lesbians.

But, if the left were pleased when Democrats refused to defend state laws — and note that then Attorney General Jerry Brown (D-CA) refused to defend a law passed by the citizens in general, Proposition 8 — they weren’t nearly as happy when the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, passed a law aimed at keeping illegal immigrants out of the jurisdiction, a law ultimately overturned, or when the state of Arizona tried to put restrictions on illegal immigrants. When Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis refused to issue marriage licenses for homosexual couples, Democrats were appalled.

Abortion law? The left are fighting Kentucky state laws which have forced the closure of all but one abortion ‘clinic’ in the Commonwealth, and threatens to close the last one. Federal law reigns supreme, they say.

Today? We have the spectacle of the left, which so vigorously attacked Hazleton’s and Arizona’s attempts to fight illegal immigration when the federal government would not enforce immigration law,2 holding that only the federal government may make immigration law — a position with which the courts agreed — doing everything it can to frustrate the enforcement of existing federal law on immigration now that we have a President who wants to enforce the law.

And so we return to Eric’s comment, and have the answer: the left do not have any consistent position on whether cities or states can make their own laws in opposition to federal law. When state and local governments take positions which favor liberal positions, why of course the left support such. It is only when state and local governments pass laws, ordinances or regulations to which they are opposed that federal supremacy triumphs in their small minds.

  1. We have frequently noted Kathleen Kane’s self-destruction and eventual felony conviction. Mrs Kane is still trying to avoid serving her 10 to 23 month jail sentence; The First Street Journal will be very pleased when she finally has to serve her sentence.
  2. It wasn’t just under President Obama; the Hazleton ordinance came during the younger President Bush’s term.


  1. The problem is that with steadily creeping socialism the federal government has become involved in matters in which it has no Constitutional authority thereby stepping on the actual authority of the sovereign states. Examples would be drug laws, marriage laws and rest room policies. By injecting itself into matters which should be legally left to the states the feds have lost their right to control those that should be their domain, like immigration enforcement, by lack of credibility.

    There is no Constitutional provision for drugs therefore there should be no DEA to deal with drugs. Just as the Constitution is clear on who cannot legally control alcohol, tobacco and firearms (the feds) there is no need for such an agency. The very spread of federal power (thanks to Lincoln) has corrupted federal power. I can’t begin to estimate how many federal laws illegally and unconstitutionally exist about non-federal issues. It’s overwhelming.

  2. My main point was that leftards ultimately care only about power and shoving their ideology on the rest of us. They will happily use the power of federal law to crack down on some small town that wants to put up a Christmas display or (God forbid!) have a football coach lead his team in a pre-game prayer. But they resent greatly the notion that Donald Trump might also use federal power to force sanctuary cities to toe the line on immigration.

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