PolySciFi Blog

Monday, June 06, 2005


I'm not a lawyer...

But today's Ashcroft (Gonzales) v Raich ruling (pdf) seems perfectly inline with previous supreme court rulings.

From my vantage point, today's decision was really an application of the commerce clause and the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which states:
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." U.S. Const. art. VI, Paragraph 2

So there were only two things that were under consideration in this decision.

1) Is the federal law prohibiting the use of medical marijuana constitutional?
2) Are the state laws in question contrary to the federal law?

If the answer was yes to both cases, then the Court had to find in favor of Ashcroft.

Since the New Deal, the Courts (depressingly) have taken an extremely broad view of what constitutes interstate trade so unfortunately the answer to 1 was yes. More discussion on the commerce clause justifications and implications here (today's decision seems to end any illusion on the limits of the commerce clause).

With the commerce matter settled, the state laws pretty clearly contradicted federal law, so the supremacy clause was then invoked.

So to me here's another data point on why it's valuable to have strict constructionists on the Supreme Court.

Side notes:
Scalia proved more conservative than principled.
Thomas (separate dissent) and Rehnquist did put prinicples ahead of interests.
O'Connor, not particularly known for her federalist leanings, wrote the dissenting opinion with Rehnquist concurring.


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