This week’s discussion centers around an issue with which all of you are likely familiar, that of the federal mandates and preemption. Before starting this discussion, be sure you have completed reading Chapter 6 and read the lecture and the two associated readings that go with this chapter that are in the reading folder – “Turf War” and “Preemption”.
For the discussion this week, I want you to consider the readings and the lecture, and select an issue in which either the federal government has overruled state law, or the laws of a specific state (name the state and the law) have overruled that of local policies. Describe the issue and the manner in which the state or local rule was superceded (the methods described in the book/lecture). Beyond that, discuss the following:
1. What limits, if any, should there be on the federal government in its efforts to spearhead change that is supported by a significant or majority of the population – or, conversely, to block popular state and localized movements? For example, civil rights for minorities was an issue that was supported by the majority of the population but was explicitly illegal or undermined by several states. More recently, same-sex marriage has been legalized nearly everywhere, in line with popular majority opinion, but through federal actions rather than state efforts. On the flip side, states and local governments have increasingly approved legalized marijuana despite the still-existing federal ban on its use.
2. What rights should local governments, especially in states that guarantee local rights through its constitution, have to enact laws that are supported by the majority of its citizens but not necessarily the state as a whole, or the “iron triangle” groups involved in state governance? For purposes of argument, leave aside the “Dillon’s Rule” standing of local governments.
When answering these questions, think especially about the two additional readings this week for some perspective.