Don't Blame Government for Upholding Federal Law

Don't Blame Government for Upholding Federal Law
Posted by FoM on December 03, 2001 at 07:34:26 PT
By Howard Troxler 
Source: St. Petersburg Times
My personal opinion is that suicide assisted by doctors ought to be legal. Carefully controlled, limited to the terminally ill who are mentally competent, but legal. Also: Doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana if that's the right way to deal with a sick person's pain, the same way they prescribe any other controlled substance. You might disagree strongly on those two things. Lots of people do. 
When Americans disagree about what the law should say, they debate. They organize. They try to persuade their fellow citizens. They elect lawmakers who decide what the laws will say. Then those laws get enforced. This brings me to a pet peeve about some of the current carping over John Ashcroft, the U.S. attorney general, when it comes to cases in California and Oregon. The people of Oregon voted (twice) for an assisted-suicide law. But Ashcroft says federal law does not allow it. He threatens to yank the federal license for prescribing drugs of any doctor who does it. The people of California, meanwhile, passed a law allowing the medical use of marijuana. But Ashcroft has ordered the Drug Enforcement Administration to move against medical-marijuana groups in that state. Because of California and Oregon -- and because as a conservative, Ashcroft was a proponent of "states' rights" -- he now is getting roundly criticized as a hypocrite, a man who is imposing his personal morality on the states. After all (the critics say), if the people of a sovereign state decide what their law should say, it is arrogant of the federal government to dictate otherwise. Let's try a little intellectual honesty here. There is a plain fact at work. Federal law is supreme over state law, unless there is a specific loophole that says otherwise. No state can just pass a law saying, "Federal law does not count in this state." Some of the states tried that sort of thing before, you know. There was a little thing called the Civil War. A century later, states of the South tried to keep their schools segregated. They tried to keep their black citizens from voting, no matter what the feds said. States have wrongly claimed the power to "nullify" federal laws. They have tried to pass state acts of "interposition." You know how all that turned out. The California case is clear-cut as can be. Federal law does not allow the medical use of marijuana. If that were not already crystal-clear, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that conclusion last May 14. The vote was 8-zip. Even the "liberal" justices said so. If Congress wants to allow medical marijuana, the Supreme Court said, then Congress should vote to do that. But a court can't just rewrite the law. Neither can California simply choose to ignore it. Nor New York. Nor North Carolina. If the citizens don't like the law, that is a political matter entirely. They should get off their butts and elect a different Congress. The Oregon case is not quite as clear-cut, but Ashcroft's actions still are defensible. Here is the key point of the Oregon dispute. Federal law allows controlled substances to be prescribed only for "legitimate medical purposes." Is suicide a legitimate medical purpose? The Department of Justice has concluded that it is not. The state of Oregon is not in a position (according to the feds) to say otherwise. To change this, we either need to get Congress to write a different law, or we need to get a different interpretation from Justice. But if you cheered for the feds back in the '60s, for Bobby Kennedy and LBJ and the Democratic Party, when they were enforcing federal law on the racist South, it is inconsistent now to say that Ashcroft should NOT be enforcing federal law in the states. Unless, of course, you are suggesting that only the federal laws that you personally agree with should be enforced. That would be intellectually lazy, now, wouldn't it? Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)Author: Howard Troxler Published: December 3, 2001 Copyright: 2001 St. Petersburg TimesContact: letters sptimes.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Medical Marijuana Information Links Fights Drug War in California Cannabis Clubs Election Loss, Ashcroft Goes To Top
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on December 04, 2001 at 08:30:10 PT:
My reply to Mr. Troxler
In May of 1998, then President Clinton signed Executive Order 13083, in which he practically emasculated and rendered null-and-void State governance. When the State governors found out about it, he rescinded the order so fast it was a wonder the paper didn't burn in his hands. It just goes to prove the power hungry and grasping aspects of Federal government that a supposed civil servant, sworn to uphold the Constitution, would so quickly try to trash it. This is why State opposition to Federal capriciousness is so needed. And this is why, despite the seeming giggle-factor involved in this subject, (sick people smoking marijuana) this is important to the health of State governance. In his diatribe, Mr. Troxler forgets something very simple and easily understood. Namely, when a law causes more harm to the people it is supposed to serve than the behavior it is supposed to prevent, then it must be trashed. Our grandfathers did this with Alcohol Prohibition. When a Federal law is wrong - like slavery was, despite its' sanctification in the Constitution - it is up to every decent human being to oppose it. Yes, too many times in the past, the cry of "State's Rights!" has been used to try to sanctify bigotry. But not in this case; the tables are reversed. It is the individual States and their citizens which are the injured party here. Their laws, crafted and approved in elections by their citizens, harming the rights of no one, have been overturned by a Federal government so mindlessly entrenched in it's Drug War that it refuses to face reality. A reality that the States have tumbled to long ago: cannabis use by the sick does not cause harm (according to the latest studies such as the WHO report of 1998, the Institute of Medicine's 1999 report, the 13th Annual International AIDS conference in 2000; need I continue?) …and does not merit forfeiture of property and incarceration. And to enforce such a law, which further endangers their lives, is truly 'cruel and unusual punishment'. No, Mr. Troxler, the Feds are not God. They most definitely have feet of clay. And they are proving this in their wrongheaded attack upon sick people. If the Federal officials will not listen to reason (there have been numerous studies, national and international, like the US Institute of Medicine report and the WHO report on beneficial aspects of cannabis), the people of the States must take the lead and force the Federal government to heel.  Lest we wind up with a Federal Big Brother peeking in our bedroom windows. For our own good, of course…Sincerely,
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Comment #5 posted by dddd on December 04, 2001 at 00:43:05 PT
off topic drift
......Todays "terror alert" fake-out,,,is an example of propaganda,that is fabricated for national mind's an example of the empire making full use of the media,as a tool for maintaining support for this illegitamate "war",,and the creeping coup of the police state.........Think about it....a national announcment,of an "alert" to all Americans...No sources are given,,no tangible reason given,,other than some allusion to bush being "open" with the public,in alerting them to some undefined,increased "threat"...............Notice the timing of this just happened to be as Isreal began to mindlessly lob missles on Arafats doorstep,in "retaliation",for suicide bombers...not to mention the militarization of the Canadian border....And,the icing on the fake cake,,was the only detail they decided to release as a reason for this "alert",,,and that to say that this intelligence had been gathered from electronic monitoring of communications between "terrorists" ,on the internet.......think about it....this ploy was developed by the best Madison Avenue media manipulators,that our tax money can buy...............EVIL EMPIRE..........indeedddd
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Comment #4 posted by Lehder on December 03, 2001 at 13:58:04 PT
"Watch What You Say"
But if you cheered for the feds back in the '60s, for Bobby Kennedy and LBJ and the Democratic Party, when they were enforcing federal law on the racist South, it is
inconsistent now to say that Ashcroft should NOT be enforcing federal law in the states.I cheered for Bobby Kennedy because he was an honest and compassionate man who sought to uplift the people and who opposed the war in Vietnam. He got shot and I got drafted. I opposed LBJ because he was an evil man who picked up dogs by their ears, made his aids take notes as he pontificated from the seat of his toilet, and sent 58,000 kids, two of them friends of mine, to needless deaths in a war which he knew was wrong and which he knew could not be won. It's perfectly consistent for me to oppose the evil and bigotry of Ashcroft.When Americans disagree about what the law should say, they debate. They organize. They try to persuade their fellow citizens. When Americans disagree with their government they are attacked and discredited personally with no consideration of the arguments they present. When Americans assemble in the street to persuade the public, they are beaten and jailed and shunned by the government's media. Lawmakers are "elected" by fewer than half the voters who are not too disenchanted to vote at all; they are nominated and financed by the corporate power structure. There have been only two debates over the war on drugs, both between Johnson and Hutchinson. But when they're barred from television they cannot influence the public and they're not debates. And when presidential spokesperson Ari Fleischer tells us, "Watch what you say," that means there is to be no debate at all. They elect lawmakers who decide what the laws will say. When the Senate passed the USA PATRIOT Act by 98-1 without being provided with copies of it to read and while too afraid of anthrax to enter their own offices, it was George Bush and George Bush alone who decided what the law would say.
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Comment #3 posted by Dark Star on December 03, 2001 at 12:54:39 PT:
Wrong Again
It is a shame that people that write about the law often misinterpret it. The Supremes ruled against Buyers' Clubs. The dissenting majority also implied that an individual suing the state under "medical necessity" may very well prevail.
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Comment #2 posted by mayan on December 03, 2001 at 12:42:08 PT
Get A Clue
Has Mr. Troxler any idea what the 10th amendment states? Obviously not. It states:The powers not delegated to the U.S. by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
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Comment #1 posted by goneposthole on December 03, 2001 at 07:46:55 PT
Any law that conflicts with the Bill of Rights is null and void.
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