Monday, June 06, 2005

If it's not Interstate, and it's not Commerce, it must be INTERSTATE COMMERCE!

Go here to read about the decision handed down by the Supreme Court in the Raich case today, whereby the Court ruled 6-3 that a person growing a pot plant in her own backyard for her own use (legal under her state's medical marijuana laws) was subject to criminalization by the Feds under the Constitution's commerce clause. The pot-growers involved in the case both grew small amounts of pot to self-medicate for, in one case, a brain tumor, and in the other, a spinal disease. Nevermind that it is legal in their state to do so. Nevermind that they are actually very ill and are helped by the dope. The only thing that matters is that the federal government has virtually unlimited power, unchecked in any meaningful way by the document that gave it life. The irony for anyone who believes somehow that Democrats are "better" on civil liberties issues than Republicans is that the only dissenters were O'Connor, Rehnquist, and Thomas-- Republican appointees (in the case of Rehnquist and Thomas, extremely conservative ones at that).

O'Connor had this to say in her dissent:

"Relying on Congress' abstract assertions, the Court has endorsed making it a federal crime to grow small amounts of marijuana in one's own home for one's own medicinal use. This overreaching stifles an express choice by some States, concerned for the lives and liberties of their people, to regulate medical marijuana differently. If I were a California citizen, I would not have voted for the medical marijuana ballot initiative; if I were a California legislator I would not have supported the Compassionate Use Act. But whatever the wisdom of California's experiment with medical marijuana, the federalism principles that have driven our Commerce Clause cases require that room for experiment be protected in this case. For these reasons I dissent."

Thomas was even more blunt:

"Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything--and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."

The so-called liberals on the Court were forced to choose between their statist worship of federal power and their supposed belief in individual freedoms, and their choice was both sad and predictable. And Scalia, the self-righteous "Originalist" who supposedly only rules the way the Founders would have ruled, joined in the majority using logic so tortured that it basically removes the commerce clause from the Constitution. Justice Stevens in the majority opinion says that the proper avenue for addressing this issue is through the ballot box, ignoring the fact that the citizens of California and many other states have already taken that route. And for their trouble, they can have the Feds come in and ignore their expressed wishes and throw their asses in jail. But what else is new.