Tuesday, July 2, 2013

States Win!

That's the verdict from the Supreme Court last week. More than "conservative" victories or "liberal' victories or "Democratic" victories or "Republican" victories, last week was a victory for the states.

First, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Court invalidated the Voting Rights Act provision that required certain states to get prior approval from the Attorney General before making any changes to their election laws. All states are now treated the same under the VRA, which still prohibits discrimination in election laws in Section 2.

Second, in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the Court determined that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not interfere with South Carolina's adoption rules. Instead, the federal statute was interpreted narrowly to give broad latitude to the states.

Third, in United States v. Windsor, the Court used (in part) a federalism rationale invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act. The states, not the Federal Government, has the authority to determine the definition of marriage, and the Court determined that DOMA had undermined that authority.

In all three of these cases, the conflict was between a state law or practice and a federal one. And in all three the state won and the federal interest was pushed back. In light of the recent trend for federal powers to expand, I think this is significant.
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