The Supreme Court's recent decision saying that the federal government can prosecute those using marijuana for medical purposes, even when state laws permit such use, has been seen by many as an issue of being for or against marijuana. But the real significance of this decision has little to do with marijuana and everything to do with the kind of government that we, our children, and our children's children are going to live under.
The 10th Amendment to the Constitution says that all powers not granted to the federal government belong to the states or to the people.
Those who wrote the Constitution clearly understood that power is dangerous and needs to be limited by being separated -- separated not only into the three branches of the national government but also separated as between the whole national government, on the one hand, and the states and the people on the other.
Too many people today judge court decisions by whether the court is "for" or "against" this or that policy. It is not the court's job to be for or against any policy but to apply the law.
The question before the Supreme Court was not whether allowing the medicinal use of marijuana was a good policy or a bad policy. The legal question was whether Congress had the authority under the Constitution to regulate something that happened entirely within the boundaries of a given state.
This is yet another way that all too over our newsmedia lets us down. We do not hear about the underlying issues being decided by the court; and their decision is often rendered in just the light Sowell mentions-- being "for" or "against" a particular policy.
That's why the recent Supreme Court decision is so worrisome. Not because it is "for" or "against" Medical Marijuana, but because it took a far too "nuanced" approach to the concept of "interstate commerce" to extend the Federal Government's ongoing intrustion into State's rights. Read Sowell's editorial. Toward the end, he states:
Nuanced courts, instead of drawing a line in the sand, spread a lot of fog across the landscape.
I completely agree. The people on the Left who were angry that the court was "against" their pet project of marijuana use for medical reasons, have little or nothing to complain about, since it is their continual contention that the Federal Government has exactly the kind of right to make such decisions.
People on the Right who are upset at the decision, are at least angry for the right reasons:
Instead of going in for fashionable "nuance" talk, Justice Thomas drew a line in the sand: "If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything -- and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."
This only underscores the absolutely critical importance of nominating persons who are not "nuanced" but who know Constitutional Law and are willing to apply it, no matter what the current fad in politics.
If we do not get more people like Clarence Thomas on the Supreme bench, then we are likely to be walking around in a Kerry-esque fog for many years to come.