Dazed and Confused About Federal Power

Dazed and Confused About Federal Power
Posted by CN Staff on June 09, 2005 at 07:26:57 PT
By Steve Chapman
Source: Chicago Tribune 
Washington, D.C. -- The chief author of our Constitution, James Madison, had little patience for those who accused him and his allies of trying to create a large, intrusive federal government. In 1788 he noted pointedly that the "powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined." Those of the states, by contrast, "are numerous and indefinite."This week, addressing the same question, the Supreme Court said, "James who?"
In recent years, the justices had flirted with the idea of restoring to the states some of the authority they once exercised. After the court's half-century love affair with centralization, that came as a shock to almost everyone. But the new romance didn't last.The court's decision to uphold the federal government's ban on medical marijuana is a victory for those who think the federal government should be free to poke its snout anywhere it wants--an approach, conservatives should note, consistently favored by the Bush administration. In this instance, that policy means punishing seriously ill people whose doctors have recommended the therapeutic use of marijuana, under regulations established by the state of California.Under California law, patients may obtain and use marijuana under a physician's suggestion. But that didn't stop federal drug agents from going after Diane Monson. They confiscated six cannabis plants she had grown to treat the intense pain caused by her spinal disease.She, however, was seized by the idea that California law should count for something in California. Monson and a fellow patient filed a lawsuit arguing that their pot use was purely a state matter, lying beyond the reach of the federal government.For a long time, that sort of claim was routinely laughed out of court. Starting in the 1930s, the court waved through a long parade of federal laws and regulations going well beyond what was allowed before. The federal government was now free to intrude into all sorts of spheres, the court explained, because of its power to regulate interstate commerce.It devised this theory mainly because it wanted a way to sanction Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal--not because the conclusion had any legal basis. The power to regulate interstate commerce, when written into the Constitution, had a far more modest purpose.Under the Articles of Confederation, states could erect trade barriers to protect home industries from competitors in other states, to the detriment of national prosperity. So when the time came to draft a new Constitution, the delegates wanted to create a national free-trade zone. Hence they gave Congress authority to "regulate commerce ... among the several states."That's "among," not "within." Clearly the feds had some latitude to address economic matters that affected two or more states, but not to police commercial activity confined to a single state.And starting in 1995, the Supreme Court revived the concept that the federal government is one of "enumerated powers"--meaning those powers specifically granted in the Constitution. The commerce clause, it said, is not a blank check for Washington to meddle in local matters.So Monson should have won her case in a walk. The marijuana she used was not part of interstate commerce. In the first place, it was never any kind of commerce: She grew it herself. In addition, it never left her home state. No one in Nevada or Arizona smelled the smoke or enjoyed the high.Yet this Supreme Court managed to find excuses to rule against her. Quoting from a 1942 decision, Justice John Paul Stevens insisted that even if an activity "is local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce."Oh? The Constitution grants Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce--not anything that affects interstate commerce. Still, it's absurd to think Monson's six plants could have even the slightest effect on the national market for marijuana.So the court was driven to say that Congress not only has the power to regulate anything that might affect interstate commerce, it has the power to regulate anything that might affect anything that might affect interstate commerce. As dissenting Justice Clarence Thomas warned, "If the majority is to be taken seriously, the federal government may now regulate quilting bees, clothes drives and potluck suppers throughout the 50 states."Yes, Mr. Madison, our federal government is one of a few defined powers--and a whole lot of undefined ones.Steve Chapman is a member of the Tribune's editorial board. Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Author: Steve ChapmanPublished: June 9, 2005Copyright: 2005 Chicago Tribune CompanyContact: ctc-TribLetter Tribune.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Angel Raich v. Ashcroft News Fight Far From Over Congress Have The Guts To Tackle MMJ? Tough With The Terminally Ill Court and Marijuana
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Comment #7 posted by global_warming on June 09, 2005 at 19:02:00 PT
 Welcome Critto
The soldiers, and all new recruits, may share all knowledge, and the mercy and the grace of this (pitiful) world, is getting ready to be born,..and you are father and mother, and we might find a sacred place to commune, and be in comfort, and reflect about tomorrow, and how we will come together, and conquer, our common affliction, this blight, that reaches for our deepest soul, our deepest indenture, for the sake of a man, for the sake of a women, for the sake of my child, for the sake of this universe, for what we all know and understand, may we come to the same altar, and look at each other, and embrace,our
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Comment #6 posted by global_warming on June 09, 2005 at 16:54:36 PT
"So the court was driven to say that Congress not only has the power to regulate anything that might affect interstate commerce, it has the power to regulate anything that might affect anything that might affect interstate commerce. As dissenting Justice Clarence Thomas warned,  "If the majority is to be taken seriously, the federal government may now regulate quilting bees, clothes drives and potluck suppers throughout the 50 states."Steve Chapman is a member of the Tribune's editorial board. "If the majority is to be taken seriously," that suggests a Democracy, if the majority can be overuled, then, America is not a democratically functional nation of people, but it is a corporation, a business, that has workers, bosses and the lowest functions of a well oiled machine.I really hate to quote Jesus, but the New Testament writers, said it so well,Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.One may conclude that it is "human nature", and dismiss the possibility, that a reasonable answer might be found, like the posturing of the slickest politician, and our greatest experts, who will testify under oath, to the best of thier knowledge, the whole truth, and nothing nothing but the truth, so help me god..Our cesspool of existence has been polluted with a layer of oil, so many fish kills, and whale beachings, is our true testament, that we will have to sware to under oath, in the only 
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Comment #5 posted by Critto on June 09, 2005 at 10:35:33 PT
Supreme Court or Court Supremacists??
Hey, I heard about the White Supremacists, who contempted and mistreated the Black people. Now it can be heard of the Court Supremacists: folks who think that because they have the judging power, their verdict is holy and they don't have to care for its effects. Now you have the Feuderal Lords ruling your country, the Colonial America II, formerly known as the United States of America or American Republic. When will you rise up against this tyranny and incite a non-violent revolution against the REGIME, WHICH TIME IS OVER?? 
When will you say "GAME OVER" to the currupt politicians and judges? You can elect many of them. Why don't you elect Libertarians?? (, who would abolish the drug laws altogether, and first the laws penalizing MMJ??In Liberty,
Libertaryzm=Libertarianism (PL/EN)
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on June 09, 2005 at 09:18:46 PT
More Good Editorials,0,7059651.story
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on June 09, 2005 at 08:54:24 PT
News Article from Snipped Source
Hard on Drugs, Soft on SufferingDebra J. SaundersThursday, June 9, 2005  Some day, Washington will catch up with the 72 percent of Americans over 45 who, according to a 2004 poll by the AARP, believe adults should be able to use medical marijuana if a physician recommends it. First, however, voters are going to have to make some noise. Or as Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in this week's Supreme Court ruling that upheld the federal government's authority to prosecute medical-marijuana users, despite California's and 10 other states' medical-marijuana laws, "the voices of voters allied with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress." Too bad, the drug-war hawks have Washington spooked. Lawmakers don't want to appear soft on drugs, so they are afraid to call an end to prosecuting people in pain. That's why marijuana is a "Schedule I" drug in the federal lexicon, which puts the drug in the same legal classification as heroin. Less dangerous drugs -- like cocaine and morphine -- fall under Schedule II and are available for medical use. But not marijuana. That's because there is no recognized medical use for marijuana according to the American Medical Association, the drug warriors respond. Fair enough. But the California Medical Association supports medical marijuana. Chief executive Jack Lewin, a physician, explained that his group believes the government should listen to doctors who recommend the drug. What's more, in passing Proposition 215 in 1996, state voters have spoken, and from what Lewin has seen, "it's not doing a whole lot of harm." Many California doctors recommend the drug because they've seen salutary results with marijuana not found with its legal pill-form equivalent, Marinol. For some reason, Marinol doesn't take with many patients, who find relief by smoking, drinking or eating marijuana. Marijuana, they say, relieves their nausea, mitigates the ravages of some diseases and increases appetites depressed by chemotherapy. Doctors have risked their careers recommending an illegal drug. They don't need a study when they can look at the faces of afflicted people who finally have found something that works for them. And many users note that medical marijuana relieves their nausea without drugging them into oblivion. Sure, some medical-marijuana boosters may be looking for an excuse to smoke pot. Two years ago, I went to a Santa Cruz event where a young man told me he took medical marijuana for an injured knee. Yeah, right. At the same event, however, I saw a 93-year-old Dorothy Gibbs who suffered from post-polio syndrome. She found that marijuana eased her severe nausea. As a member of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical marijuana, Gibbs joined a different lawsuit against federal prosecutions, after the Drug Enforcement Administration raided WAMM and seized 167 marijuana plants. Gibbs is now dead, WAMM founder Valerie Corral told me on the phone yesterday. In the six months after the raid, 13 WAMM members died -- almost 10 percent of WAMM's members. This is a group of seriously ill people -- and the kid with the bad knee was not one of them. Corral, an epileptic, believes she suffers fewer seizures because of medical marijuana. She used to take more powerful pharmaceutical drugs that "made me feel as if I was underwater. " With marijuana, she said, she is more functional. Snipped:Complete Article:
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on June 09, 2005 at 07:50:01 PT
Two Articles from Snipped Sources
Ruling Reeks of Reefer MadnessBy David Harsanyi, Denver Post Columnist June 9, 2005 
Medical marijuana. Why should the average Coloradan be troubled by the Supreme Court's ruling giving the federal government the power to prosecute patients who use pot? Actually, there's a reason for everyone. For progressives ... well, let's be honest, you guys look for any excuse to smoke the stuff. For liberals, there is the compassionate position. Shouldn't patients with neurological disorders, degenerative diseases and cancer be allowed to make personal decisions regarding painkillers without government interference? For social conservatives: If you guys rely on states'-rights arguments when it comes to abortion and gay marriage, shouldn't you speak up now? If you don't, you'll appear to be hypocrites the next time you mention "federalism" in conversation. And hey, didn't God create "Purple Haze" weed for a reason? For traditional conservatives, your concern should center on preserving the Constitution, especially the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers like criminal law enforcement for the states. Our state (Colorado, for those of you who use pot for nonmedicinal purposes) approved the decriminalization of medical marijuana back in November 2000. But did you know that the federal government already spends taxpayer funds on political campaigning against drug reforms such as Colorado's? Snipped:Complete Article:***County is Chided for Ignoring LawBy Jeff McDonald, Union-Tribune Staff WriterJune 9, 2005 San Diego County supervisors have ignored the will of California voters for too long and should take "all possible action" to promote access to marijuana for seriously ill constituents who might benefit from it, the grand jury said yesterday. In a rebuke announced two days after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal government's power to prosecute medical marijuana patients, the grand jury said county leaders shirked their duty to abide by California law. "The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has been blinded by its prejudices against medical marijuana use and has failed to implement the will of California voters," the report stated. In 1996, 56 percent of California voters approved the use of marijuana for patients who have a doctor's recommendation, but the drug remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. In San Diego County, the 1996 initiative, known as the Compassionate Use Act, passed with just over 52 percent support. The 16-page grand jury report included the disclaimer that it neither endorses nor condones the illegal use of drugs and takes no position on the medicinal value of marijuana. But it sharply criticized county supervisors for refusing to adopt uniform standards for the cultivation and use of medical marijuana for up to 5,000 patients who live in the county. Snipped: 
Complete Article:
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Comment #1 posted by jose melendez on June 09, 2005 at 07:41:46 PT
among, not within
Nah, we're not cracking down on medmj . . .,0,2575670.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork License of doctor accused of growing marijuana suspendedMedical marijuana laws
Jun 7, 2005 Pot pollThe U.S. Supreme Court says federal officials can prosecute people who use marijuana on a doctor's advice, even though 10 states have laws allowing such uses. What should the government do? - Allow it. Doctors have found marijuana helps people with cancer, AIDS and some other illnesses. - Prosecute. Marijuana is a street drug, not prescription medication.Vote !No relief (AP) June 9, 2005, 2:07 AM EDT
COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) _ A state medical board has suspended the license of a former New York City doctor accused of growing marijuana in his home.Dr. Arnaldo F. Trabucco, a urologist, is prohibited from practicing medicine in Indiana until the suspension is resolved, according to the emergency order by the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana. Trabucco and his wife, Pamela, face charges of possession of marijuana, filed after Bartholomew County sheriff's deputies and U.S. postal inspectors found marijuana plants growing in the couple's Columbus house.The licensing board began an investigation soon after the April 28 arrest.Further details of the emergency suspension order were not available Tuesday. Staff at the licensing board acknowledged the suspension but said further details can only be released . . ."Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks -- no form of government can render us secure. To suppose liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them."-- James Madison, Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 20, 1788see also:
A US Attorney kindly agreed to accept my affidavit . . .
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