The Corner

Jonah’s Federalism

Jonah concludes his column sort-of opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment with these lines: “You can’t favor federalism for only good ideas or ideas you like. Experimentation means allowing local communities to make mistakes.” I’ve never much cared for the “laboratories of democracy” justification for federalism (if indeed it is a justification for federalism: Michael Greve argues that Justice Brandeis, the originator of the phrase, used it to express his commitment not to federalism but to scientific socialism). But let’s leave that aside.

Based on the views expressed in those sentences, Jonah, isn’t it time you came out against the federal war on drugs? I know you think legalization is a bad idea. But local communities have to be allowed to make (what you regard as) mistakes, don’t they?

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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