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Interesting Chat About States' Rights

Hey fellow patriots. I have recently been confused about states' rights and libertarianism. My question? Is it constitutional for a state to outlaw certain behavior(drugs, gambling, pornography etc.)without the federal governments involvement. I have talked to people on the DP who have said that the federal governments job is to insure our liberties. I have also talked to people who say that it is all a states' rights issue. Here is an interesting chat I had with the user Katniss Everdeen(not the actor) on what she thought of the issue.

KAT: hey Viper
VIPER: hi kat
KAT: what's your confusion?
VIPER: I am confused about states’ rights
KAT: Okay. I can probably help
VIPER: if it is the governments’ job to tell a state that they have to legalize marijuana and other drugs
KAT: it's not. That's unconstitutional
VIPER: now libertarians would say that the federal governments’ job is to protect liberties and they feel making drugs illegal is violating a citizens liberties
KAT: Viper, do you know why the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written?
VIPER: to protect the states
KAT: *written the way that they were. Yes.
KAT: viper the constitution established the federal government and defined its limitations... the things not granted to the federal govt were reserved to the states
VIPER: I agree with you but that is not what libertarians believe
VIPER: I have discussed this with three other people on the DP and they told me that the federal governments job is to make sure states' protect our liberties
KAT: No. The role of the federal government is to do what is outlined in the Constitution. The Constitution DOES say the Feds must guarantee each state a republican government, but not much other than that.
VIPER: Libertarians’ would say that the constitution protects our liberties therefore it is a federal issue
KAT: The Constitution only protects our liberties from the FEDERAL government. To keep the states in line
KAT: The states have their own constitutions too. Most, if not all, of them protects our rights from the state government.
VIPER: So if I was governor of my state I could make drugs illegal and still be a libertarian to Ron Paul
KAT: No.
VIPER: why?
KAT: Just because a state can do something under the federal Constitution, doesn't mean they should.
VIPER: ok. But in my state I might want to make gay marriage illegal. Is that wrong?
KAT: no. From a libertarian viewpoint, that is wrong because it contradicts the purpose of government (to protect the rights of the people). But it IS constitutional because the Federal government is not given the authority to prevent the states from doing so.
VIPER: So then I can be a constitutional republican as a governor?
KAT: Viper what do you mean?
KAT: The states each have their own constitutions. Governors are obligated to follow those.
VIPER: IF I think it is damaging to my state to allow gays to marry I can be following the constitution by outlawing it. Federal constitution**
KAT: Under the federal Constitution, you can. But it may be unconstitutional under your state Constitution. And it would be out of line with libertarian philosophy,
VIPER: Ok, so far I understand everything that you have told me and I agree, but this is not what libertarians say. That is why I do not think of myself as a libertarian.
KAT: What do other libertarians say about this?
VIPER: Like I said they argue that the federal governments’ job is to insure the American peoples’ liberty. I disagree but this is what they argue for
KAT: According to *original understanding* of the Constitution, that is incorrect. It is meant to protect the states and the people from the Federal government. Unless the states are specifically mentioned, it doesn't apply to them.
VIPER: I agree, there is no such thing as a state right if the federal government can come in and say you are not following the constitution
KAT: For example, the First amendment says there cannot be an establishment of religion. But many states had established religions at the time. Viper yes. *at the time the Bill of Rights was ratified
VIPER: would that mean a federal established religion?
KAT: A federal established religion would be unconstitutional, yes
VIPER: Now kat, what if a state said that they are now allowed to torture people in there state if they are suspected of terrorism and even murder them if they think necessary. Can a state cross a certain line?
KAT: Terrorism is generally a federal issue as the issue of national defense is a job given to the Feds.
VIPER: What if a state says that you are not allowed to have more than one baby? Abort the rest. Is that enough for the federal government to intervene?
KAT: The people would have to do something about that. And remember, the states have their own constitutions to follow.
VIPER: revolution?
KAT: Not necessarily. They could speak up and elect different people
VIPER: what if they elect a communist in there state?
KAT: They can't
VIPER: Or someone who promised to abolish the states' constitution
KAT: The Constitution DOES say that the Feds must guarantee to each state a republican government.
So they can't turn into dictatorships.
VIPER: so there is federal government involvement at some point?
KAT: Yes. The states can't declare war on another country, for example
VIPER: But who defines what a republic is?
KAT: A republic is a republic
VIPER: Is state mandated healthcare forcing Catholics to sell contraceptives considered a republic?
KAT: Yes, well, states such as Massachusetts already have healthcare plans on a state level similar to Obamacare.
VIPER: but is that a republic? To what point does government regulation cross over the boundaries of a republic?
KAT: Viper
VIPER: yep?
KAT: A republic is, according to the dictionary, "a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them."
VIPER: so if they vote in a person who takes away the republic the federal government can come in and say that they are crossing the lines?
KAT: Yes
VIPER: But socialism in a state to a certain extent is not violating the laws of a republic? Government healthcare, education etc.
KAT: Not really. It could violate state constitutions, though
VIPER: What if they amend the states constitution to the point where it was not a republic?
KAT: And again, about changing the state constitutions to where it wasn't a republic...
The Feds must guarantee the states republican government
KAT: This is from the Constitution, Article 4, section 4,
"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence."

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You may have covered this...

But I remember the Constitution is meant to protect individual rights from the government. Basically just the right to life, liberty, and to keep the fruits of your labor. The federal government can declare states laws unconstitutional if they violate those inalienable rights, but for the most part States are supposed to be protected and have their own rights. So if you ban same sex marriage in a state, it's possible that it could be overruled by the Supreme Court based on their interpretation of the constitution and if they feel it violates your rights.


Most of the people on this site are both libertarians and constitutionalists (even people like me who are actually anarchists).

There is a good case for constitutional limitations on the power of the federal government to force states to uphold some liberties from a libertarian/decentralist viewpoint. And that is: any power the federal government has to force states to not violate every right under the sun is also a power to force states to violate every right under the sun. We've seen this time and time again in our history.

Also, the change in attitude required for society to approve of the federal government "letting go" of their power over the states spiritually translates into the attitude required for society to approve of the state governments "letting go" of their powers over the individual. And once the attitudes change, it is much easier to change government in a pro-liberty direction at the state level than at the federal level.

Does this make sense?


i love your common sense and knowledge, and viper i love you for asking so kat can explain this so everyone can touch up on this if they didnt already know.


Please read the whole thing it really is an awesome chat

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