Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Federalism, States’ Rights and Citizens

Recent events in this country have made me reflect on the ideas of federalism, states’ rights and humanity. The once American dream of freedom and liberty is at the crossroads. I am often in awe of pronouncements made by those in politics and the policymaking bodies who make hateful and inhumane decisions.

According to the framers of the constitution, there should be checks and balances among Congress, the president and Supreme Court. The recent rejection of the Senate to consider the president’s appointee for the vacant position in the Supreme Court violates that checks and balances and responsibilities of each branch.

The political powers granted to the states and its people, according to the U.S. Constitution, rests in the 10th Amendment. The recent discriminatory laws passed by many state legislatures based on color, race, religion and sexual orientation violate the 10th Amendment and are inhumane. The North Carolina House Bill 2 (HB2) and legislation from other states that discriminate against transgender persons highlight renewed discrimination and bias.

Although the federal government has waded into the problems and set guidelines that will protect all citizens, these states are bent on denying personal freedom for their fellow citizens. If history is our guide, past precedents may help solve these problems and protect all citizens. I wonder why the states are rejecting decisions by the federal government and ignoring its implications. In previous cases, such as in New York v. United States, the courts upheld the federal government decisions on adoption of its rules. In Printz v. United States, local and state officials were forced to implement federal laws and in South Dakota v. Dole, the court ruled that states must comply with federal guidelines in accepting federal money.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick threatens to reject federal money meant for schools and other agencies instead of complying with federal rules, I wonder where his humanity is. The forfeiture of $10 billion will make life harder and punish those who really need the funds for education and skills training. This makes me wonder why people who are elected to protect and serve their citizens are doing everything to harm those who they have sworn to help.

Your thought!


Submitted by Winnie Eke

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