The Corner

Trump, Federalism, and the Rule of Law

This week the Trump administration has said both that states and localities could set their own policies on the access of transgender people to school bathrooms and locker rooms and that the federal government will crack down on the marijuana trade in states that have chosen to legalize it. Noah Rothman argues that this set of decisions reflects a White House that is more solicitous of the concerns of social conservatives than it is devoted to federalism.

Whatever the reasons the administration is taking this line, it seems to me that its decisions are defensible. The Obama administration’s regulation regarding transgender access stretched statutory law, and so did its decision not to enforce (or not to prioritize the enforcement of) federal marijuana laws in some places. On federalist grounds, I’d like to see Congress change the marijuana laws. But given that they are still on the books and not obviously unconstitutional, it seems reasonable for the executive branch to enforce them.

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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