Why Republicans Love State’s Rights

image of the top of the Bill of Rights document

A major Republican talking point I hear quite often is to let state’s decide some policy issues – like same-sex marriage or voting rights. The implication is clear. Republicans want states to deal with those policy issues because Republicans control more state legislatures than Democrats. It is the GOP way of subverting the Federal government when they don’t control it.

Read this post on ThinkProgress today:

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan said this morning that a Supreme Court decision leaving the states to decide whether or not to allow same-sex marriage was in the best interest of Americans, because it would ensure that the country didn’t move too fast in granting equal marriage rights to all of its citizens.

Noonan said on ABC’s This Week that Americans “don’t take it well” when the Supreme Court makes decisions that affect the entire country — such as declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional or repealing the Defense of Marriage Act — and said one of the “great sins” of Roe v. Wade was that it took power away from the states.

Conservative Pundit Says Country Shouldn’t Move Too Fast In Granting Equal Marriage Rights To Gays

So let’s see what Republicans idea about the Defense of Marriage Act when it was being considered in Congress back in 1996:

As long as all the states retained the traditional definition of marriage, there was no need for the Congress to choose between having a uniform federal definition for federal benefits and burdens and simply borrowing the state definition of marriage. But when H Hawaii was on the verge of becoming the first state to experiment with altering the traditional definition, Congress had to choose between retaining a uniform federal rule or continuing simply to borrow state definitions in a manner that would create the po ssibility of disparities in federal benefits across jurisdictions. Congress chose the former, and that decision was eminently rational.

Windsor v. United States – House of Representatives Brief p. 33

To prevent states from having different definitions of marriage and thereby forcing all states to recognize those different definitions, the Congress passed a law that applied the conservative definition of marriage on all the states. Even though Republicans claimed to be letting states “experiment” with different definitions they used a national law to force their definition on states in order to stop what they saw as a redefinition of marriage. So much for state’s rights.

As California Attorney General Kemala Harris expressed on CNN today:

I am absolutely against a ban on same-sex marriages because [bans] are simply unconstitutional. And it is one thing to read the polls, which we have discussed which show again that a majority of Americans are in favor of same sex marriage, but it is more important to read the Constitution. And the Constitution of the United States dictates, I believe, under every court precedent that we have discussed in terms of describing marriage as a fundamental right that the same-sex couples that are before the United states supreme court — Mrs. Windsor, Miss Perry — be allowed to have equal protection under the laws as any Americans when it comes to their ability to join themselves with their loving partners in marriage and raise their children. And 61% of Californians are in favor of same-sex marriage. 

WATCH: The Most Compelling Case For Marriage Equality In Under A Minute

Republicans like state’s rights when they want to deny rights for some group they don’t care for like African-Americans or LGBTs for example. Removing those rights is easier to do in the states especially when one party controls the state legislature.

I don’t know any people who would put up with different rights in different states. If I live in Ohio and enjoy same-sex marriage why should it not be recognized if I move to Kentucky? Rational people know that would be a travesty.

No one has ever made a valid argument that denying rights to one group makes the world a better place. In fact the reverse is true. Expanding rights to all people makes the world a better place.

Of course when state laws fit into their intolerant agenda Republicans love state’s rights.