The State’s Right Assault on Federal Authority:
The five conservative justices Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy show a strong adherence to states rights in theory, such as when it comes to Ronald Regan’s attack on the New Deal and other efforts to help ordinary Americans. However, when it came to Bush v. Gore these ideals were abandoned.
1. The court has struck down federal legislations
a. Federal government passed Child Labor Act, which was struck down in 1918 and again four years later when the federal government tried again. The federal government passed this law because states were unable to deal with this problem.
b. The New Deal
1. resulted in a large transfer of power to the federal branch with the many federal programs and agencies that were created.
2. enraged conservatives due to higher taxes, bigger government, and redistribution of wealth. the five member conservative majority struck down his policies for stepping on states rights
3. However conservative justices started to leave the court and the commerce clause and the post- Civil war Fourteenth Amendment were applied to justify New Deal policies.
2. Rehnquist takes office 1972
a. raised in a conservative family
1. and as a clerk a strong supporter of separate but equal doctrine. However, he denied these beliefs even though there is considerable proof showing this.
2. “It is about time the court faced the fact that white people in the south don’t like the colored people; the Constitution restrains them from effecting this dislike through state action, but it most assuredly did not appoint the court as a sociological watchdog to rear up every time private discrimination raised its admittedly ugly head.”
3. Upholds states rights in cases- National League of Cities v. Usery
3. 1991- 5 conservative justice majority: Thomas, Rehnquist, Kennedy, O’Connor, and Scalia.
a. delivered rulings that struck down federal gov’t from requiring that state officials implement federal law.
b. Struck down cases involving the commerce clause:
1. U.S v. Lopez- struck down federal law criminalizing possession of guns in a schools zone. Court struck it down because there was no economic transaction and there was no effect on interstate travel.
4. Broadening the Scope of the Eleventh amendment:
a. the court has developed a stated sovereignty doctrine where it allows states to prevent money damage suits against itself, even by its own citizens in state courts. This was never approved by the congress or written in the constitution.
1. Cases showing this: City of Boerne v. Flores and Employment Division v. Smith
5. The Roles, Rights, and Responsibilities of the Executive Branch:
a. The supreme court has made increasingly difficult for citizens to challenge federal authority
1. In the freedom of Information Act the court is supposed to balance privacy rights against the public’s rights. However, the court has sided with privacy rights above the public’s rights.
2. The court has given considerable authority to businesses to sue complaining about overregulation. And it has held that the government should not be favored in these lawsuits.
3. The court has sided with the business when states try to apply more stringent policies than the federal government on businesses.