Scary story: an amendment to unravel federal protections?

Am I the only one alarmed by today’s New York Times story on a growing movement among conservatives and Tea Partiers seeking “ a constitutional amendment that would allow a vote of the states to overturn any act of Congress?”

That’s coming, the Times reports, from “[t]he same people driving the lawsuits that seek to dismantle the Obama administration’s health care overhaul,” and the movement got a big boost from the GOP victories in November.

Where have we heard this “state rights” stuff before? Oh yeah, it was from southern states that fought anti-lynching laws, that resisted – sometimes violently- integration of schools, that saw federal civil rights legislation as a violation of their cherished right to discriminate.

I’m guessing this trend – even though actually passing such an amendment would be extraordinarily difficult – is making a lot of Jewish leaders nervous. Think of the potential impact on hate crimes laws (which many states see as a terrible infringement and burden), on church-state separation (many hate federal dictates about things like banning sectarian Christian prayer in public schools and such), on civil rights for all.

For that matter, think of states like Texas that see Medicaid as another infringement on their rights and want to opt out. Just watch the federal human service safety net unravel if such an amendment was ever passed.

There’s a good reason Jewish leaders, as advocates for a small minority in a country where local conventions often tilt against Jews, African Americans, immigrants, Asians and others, see a strong federal government that’s committed to protecting minority rights as a critical element in our security.

And that’s what some want to unravel.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.