The Corner

How Not to Think About Federalism

Bruce Fein provides a lesson. He condemns the federal law against partial-birth abortion as an invasion of states’ jurisdiction over the matter while entirely ignoring–not even mentioning!–the way the Supreme Court (a branch of the federal government, in case Fein is interested) has withdrawn that jurisdiction. He treats the ability of states and localities to set product-liability standards for guns made in other jurisdictions as simply an aspect of state sovereignty. But then he turns around and says that federalism requires letting states wink at undermining sister states’ laws against abortion. And he concludes with Justice Brandeis’s paean to the states as laboratories of democracy, which is not only a cliche but a distinctly unconservative one.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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