10th Amendment Challenge to Conservatives


Remember the 10th Amendment to the Constitution? (Okay, that was a rhetorical question. Actually, very few Americans can answer that question correctly.) That is the amendment that conservatives have been invoking lately to express their outrage at the latest version of the Brady Bill's background check requirement.

The amendment states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The conservative argument is this; the federal government requires local law enforcement agencies to perform background checks, for the benefit of federal agencies, on law abiding citizens, which is contrary to this amendment, outside of the United State's constitutional powers and, thus, unconstitutional.

While I consider myself a semi-conditional "gun control nut", I lean towards agreeing with this conservative proposition. If the Brady Bill had included funds, equipment and training for this activity, I would be more inclined to support this section but, as the current system entails forms that must be filled out and fact-checked and faxed, it is time consuming and expensive and should not be obligatory. In the near future, I'm told, the process will be completely computerized and far quicker and cheaper. But that is, indeed, in the future.

I bring this up because another state's rights (or as it's so often reverently spoken...State's Rights) issue is in the news and I'm truly interested in how much support the conservative movement in America will apply in order to assure that the rights of this state are protected from the ongoing current federal attack.

The state in question is Hawaii and the issue is same-sex marriages. The state of Hawaii, in the person of Hawaii Circuit Judge Kevin S. C. Chang, has struck down the law banning same sex marriages. As the state cannot demonstrate a compelling and constitutional reason to deny this secular partnership to any couple, the ruling states, then it follows that the state must recognize these unions.

Congress and the President, as expected, hysterically passed the "Defense of Marriage Act" last spring that "safeguards" the rights of states not to be forced to recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state. Indeed, 18 states have already availed themselves of these safeguards against the "threat" of married gays and lesbians moving into their states.

Now, whether the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional should also be in question. The Fourth Article of the Constitution states very plainly, "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof." Nowhere does this article give the United States the right to abrogate any constitutional state judicial decision nor does it give the United States the right to legislate permission for any state to ignore this portion of the Constitution.

We must remember that it wasn't all that long ago that inter-racial marriages were banned for the same reason of "in the compelling interest of the state to protect the sanctity of marriage". Except for those small, tragic racists who loiter among us, we can see that our nation has not been destroyed due to the acceptance of these unions.

Because of this discrepancy, I'm officially issuing a call to all good conservatives to show their support in both questions of state's rights. If the Constitution is defined as protecting states from the federal government's interference in one area, it must follow in all areas that are similarly Constitutionally protected. This, then, is a call to Rush, to Newt, even to the newest conservative; President Clinton. As much as they might like to selectively administer Constitutional law so that their favorite causes are legal and those they disapprove of are subverted we most assuredly cannot sanction that attitude. Equal protection under the law is another tenet of the Constitution. Come on all you good Inyo County conservatives, write to your representatives and demand the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Our government must either follow the Constitution in all instances or begin the process of repealing those sections within it that they just don't want to observe for the trivial reason of seeking support from the moral majority of the day. They can't pick and choose on the basis of transitory moral judgments.

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