I think it is time to discuss the Republican lie about “states rights”. According to Republicans, especially conservatives, that whatever they want as law should be “up to the states to decide”.
This came up again yesterday when trump rolled-back the transgender rule for schools about which bathroom and shower they should be allowed to use. The order said that children should be allowed to use the bathroom and shower based on their actual gender and not what is necessarily on the birth certificate.
Yesterday, after months of saying he supports LGBT rights, he rescinded this rule. there is some confusion over the order in that of all people Betsy DeVos was originally against the order. Sessions reportedly pressured her because he needed the Education Department to back it. It was also reported that trump pressured her as well, and in the end she caved.
We knew this was coming because the day before, Sessions’ Justice Department told the courts they would no longer support the rule in the courts. Then, in typical fashion, they all said “this is something better left to the states to decide”.
I have always found it dangerous the way Republicans use “states rights” so selectively. This stupidity goes back a long way. We had a Civil War over the issue of slavery. Yet, today, the south still says that it was fought over “states rights”. Only, the only “states rights” that they fought over was the right to keep slaves.
So, even if you buy their lie about it fought over “states rights” they still lost the war. Yet, conservatives and especially today’s Republican Party keep trotting out the “states rights” claim for anything they don’t agree with.
However, the only things that seem to fall under “states rights” are laws that affect the civil rights of people across the country. This same cry of “states rights” was the crux to the Jim Crow laws that discriminated against African-Americans for so many years.
Other topics that seem to fall under their “states rights” cry are things that affect all people, but may hurt profits of certain businesses. Like clean air and water.
To name just a few, here are some of the things that Republicans want the states to decide. Jim Crow Laws, Same-Sex Marriage, Abortion Rights, Bathroom Rights for Transgenders, Voting Rights, Clean Air Regulations, Clean Water Regulations.
These are just some of the issues covered by their lie. If you look at all of these issues you will discover that the laws affect all parts of the country, not just a particular state.
The Jim Crow laws were so strict, that an African-Americans who were riding on a train from the north in was forced to leave the coach they were sitting in and go to sit in the “colored coach” when the train crossed into a southern state. That even included service members during World War Two.
Same-sex marriage is another one that affects everyone. If a gay couple in New York get married and need to move to another state that does not recognize same-sex marriages because of their job, they could lose their married status for taxes and health coverage.
Abortion rights is really convoluted. Under Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court that women have a constitutional right to have a “safe and legal abortion”. Republican controlled states hate that idea. They want to change the law in their states, claiming “states rights”.
The other oddity in this is that these same Republicans say that the ACA put the government between you and your doctor and that is the biggest reason it needs to be repealed. Yet they are very willing to get between a woman and her doctor if comes to abortion or birth control.
They also cry about “religious beliefs” and say it is okay to discriminate against same-sex couples trying to get married based on the business’ “religious beliefs. Yet they want to deny “religious beliefs” for women who want an abortion whose “religious beliefs” disagree with their viewpoint on the issue.
Many states have passed what they call Photo ID laws. In order to vote, you need to show a Photo ID. However, in order to make sure that only the right people have Photo IDs, they do some odd things. They close all of the DMV offices in certain areas that are mostly populated by African-Americans and Latinos. They reduce the number of early voting stations to one in heavily African-American and Latino areas while opening more polls in less populated areas but are mostly white.
Here in the Soviet State of North Carolina, they actually did research on the types of Photo IDs that minorities usually have. Then they said those photo IDs were not acceptable. The courts caught them on that issue and said they acted with “surgical precision” to restrict minority voting rights.
Our current Head of the EPA says that only states should have the right to pass clean air and water regulations. He says that only states know what effect these regulations have on “business”. He doesn’t seem to think that the dirty air from his state will drift over other states. That isn’t his problem.
On the other hand, they won’t cry “states rights” if a law goes against what they want. Just look at the gun rights issues. When a state, like Maryland, passes a law banning assault weapons and large capacity ammo, these same “states rights” liars run to court calling the law “unconstitutional”.
Under the Constitution, the states do have rights. However, the same Constitution says that the Federal Laws supersede state laws. Meaning if the Federal government passes a civil rights law, the states cannot ignore it under the guise of “states rights”.
We are a nation. Yes, it is made up of several states. And, the states have a right to determine most of their laws. However, since we are a “nation” we cannot have 50 different laws dealing with simple human and civil rights. As a nation, we need to ensure that all citizens regardless of their zip code have the same human and civil rights.
We must protect our minorities from the excesses of the majority. We must make sure that civil rights don’t end just because a couple or person is required or chooses to move from one state to another. We cannot live in a country where one state can pollute the air of their neighbors. We cannot live in a country where one state can pollute the drinking water of another state.
The unfortunate thing about this is that “states rights” has become code words for “legal discrimination”. It has no other meaning the way Republicans try using it. The only time you hear them cry “states rights” is when they pass a law that makes discrimination legal in their state.
Civil rights are protected under our Constitution. Sates do not have the right to change those rights in their state. They do not have the right to legally discriminate against any minority group.
Rescinding this order will allow more bullying in schools. It will allow more attacks against LGBT students. It will make our schools less safe. And, it targets children the most. And, it is all in the name of “states rights” not in the name of “civil rights”. To use trump’s own words, the first time that a transgender student is attacked in a bathroom or locker room, you can place the blame and the blood at trump’s door.
It is the primary responsibility of the president to protect people and their rights. It is especially his responsibility to protect our children. He has just failed “bigly” under the false claim of “states rights”.
And, the shirts keep marching along.