10th Amendment Mr. Hunter?

10th Amendment Mr. Hunter?

As a Republican activist I’d much rather spend my time critiquing Democrats and celebrating Republicans, as I’ve done repeatedly on these pages here, here, here, and here. But every few months it seems Congressman Hunter does something that requires a conservative critique.

A few months ago the Congressman published his ridiculous “Hunter Doctrine,” which placed him in the awkward position of seeming to support the Soviet occupation of Europe after WWII. Now Mr. Hunter is turning his sights to the problem of sanctuary cities. His solution – repeal the 10th Amendment. Mr. Hunter’s solution is to use the federal spending power to abrogate state’s rights by coercing state and municipal authorities to enforce federal policy. That is not a conservative position, nor is it constitutional.

The states ability to resist federal coercion is key characteristic of the 10th Amendment, and serves as a bulwark against the progressive centralization of power in the federal government. This principle dates back to when the northern states justly refused to allow their own officers to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. As Justice Story said back in 1842, “it is an unconstitutional exercise of power to insist that the states are bound to provide means to carry into effect the duties of the national government, nowhere delegated or entrusted to them by the Constitution.” Most recently, one of the few silver linings to the Supreme Court’s Obamacare jurisprudence was its conclusion that the withholding federal funds to states that refused to expand Medicare was unconstitutional.

Sanctuary cities are bad policy, and Mr. Hunter’s desire to see that our immigration laws are enforced is commendable, but the use of progressive means to achieve conservative ends can’t be endorsed. Once Mr. Hunter is done vesting the federal government with the power to bully the states we can all be assured that the future application of that power will not be conservative.

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