Monday, June 06, 2005

Thomas for Chief Justice

One of the most important principals of the english speaking nation is the Rule of Law. The courts are never so important as when the government wants to userp power to itself that it was never granted. The government of the United States has done so repeatedly under the guise of regulating interstate commerce. The Supreme Court of the United States unfortunatly let the federal government get away with another such power grab in Gonzales v. Raich, decided on Monday. Three justices decented from this decision. Justice O'Conner, Justice Thomas, and the Chief Justice of the United States. Both O'Conner and Thomas wrote opinions. O'Conner's here.

But the better of the two opinions was by Justice Thomas. It begins, "Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. 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."

Thomas concludes "The majority prevents States like California from devising drug policies that they have concluded provide much-needed respite to the seriously ill. It does so without any serious inquiry into the necessity for federal regulation or the propriety of “displac[ing] state regulation in areas of traditional state concern,” United States v. Lopez. 514 U.S. 549, at 583 (Kennedy, J., concurring). The majority’s rush to embrace federal power “is especially unfortunate given the importance of showing respect for the sovereign States that comprise our Federal Union.” United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative, 532 U.S. 483, 502 (2001) (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment). Our federalist system, properly understood, allows California and a growing number of other States to decide for themselves how to safeguard the health and welfare of their citizens. I would affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals. I respectfully dissent."

This is the sort of coragious opinion that Thomas turns in 9 times out 10 when the stakes are high. I think he deserves more than another member of the court to be made the next Chief Justice of the United States. Not that the president or congress would tie their own hands that way, but we can hope.

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