The New Federalism
To the Editor:
Although I found Wilfred M. McClay’s article on federalism [“A More Perfect Union?,” September] both fascinating and largely on point, I also found a suggestion of his quite troubling. In referring to recent Supreme Court decisions, he writes that it cannot
carry much weight for opponents [of the conservative faction] on the Court to protest, as Justices Stephen Breyer and David Souter have done in the wake of the United States v. Lopez, that the present Court is acting in dangerously unrestrained ways, unsettling issues thought to have been settled. After all, unsettlement was what the 1994 elections were all about. [Emphasis added]
I take that last sentence to mean that the country’s overwhelmingly conservative vote last November somehow justifies those decisions of the Supreme Court that conservatives find politically satisfying. Yet for more than three decades now, it has been conservatives who have maintained that the Court grossly abuses its power whenever it pays heed to the prevailing political winds under the guise of interpreting the Constitution; that is, when those winds are blowing toward the Left. . . .
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