Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sotirios A. Barber's "The Fallacies of States’ Rights"

Sotirios A. Barber is Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Fallacies of States' Rights, and reported the following:
Imagine my surprise: the Test works pretty well for Fallacies!

Many (not all) Americans have believed since the nation’s founding that constitutionally reserved “states’ rights” limit the powers of the national government. Regarding Obamacare, for example, many people believe that Congress could mandate health insurance were it not for the existence of the state governments, but that since the states do exist and the Constitution says nothing about health care, Congress can’t mandate health insurance. This view of the Constitution is not a straight-forward reading of its actual text; it’s merely an interpretation of the text. And because there are competing interpretations, the question is why anyone should adopt the states’ rights view. Fallacies shows why states’ righters have never answered this question successfully and can’t possibly do so. A popular answer among states’ righters over the years is that states’ rights restraints on national power best serves “democracy.” On page 99 I join the many writers who have shown to all whom evidence and logic can reach that this claim is simply false. (Just ask yourself whether in the name of democracy the states should be permitted to suppress the votes of racial minorities, as many states have done in the past.) Page 99 is not a perfect slice of all that Fallacies, tries to do, for the book takes up models of American federalism other than the states’ rights model. But page 99 does represent the theme signified by the title of the book: the fallacies of the states’ rights view.
Learn more about The Fallacies of States' Rights at the Harvard University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue