Friday, April 15, 2011

States' rights

The great underlying issue of the Late Unpleasantness may never have been resolved:
Is the Constitution a contract among the States by which the federal government is created, thus making Washington subject to the States and allowing a State to withdraw from the agreement if it deems it appropriate to do so, or are the States mere units of government similar to the Departments of the French Republic, subject to the rules established by the central government and required to bend to its will? Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, the question is not about whether it is practical to do so, but merely about what the Constitution itself really means.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jaime's Out...

As Knoxville's 6th District State Senator Jamie Woodson (R) steps down at the close of this legislative session, speculation will begin to churn about her replacement:

The stalling of the wine bill wasn't the biggest news on the Hill today, however. Knoxville Republican State Senator Jamie Woodson announced today that she will resign the Tennessee Senate at the end of the current session or on July 1, 2011, whichever should come first. Woodson, who is the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate, has been offered the presidency of the Tennessee State Collaborative On Reforming Education (SCORE) by former U.S. Senator Bill Frist. The announcement came as something of a surprise, since Woodson hadn't given any public indication that she was ready to leave the Senate and that body's second most powerful post.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Attorney General Is Not Divine

The Tennessee Attorney General's legal opinions are important, but our legislators should not govern based on those opinions because the Attorney General is not the Supreme Court:

The great problem with Attorney General's opinions in the past is that previous Tennessee General Assemblies have treated the personal legal opinions of the Attorney General as though they were the Law of Moses given by the Almighty at Sinai. "Thus saith the Attorney General, so thus saith the Lord." We can reasonably assume that our State's chief lawyer has a very good legal opinion, and that his opinion should be given when he is called upon. The Attorney General, however, is not a court of law, and he (or as the future case might be, she) is most certainly not the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12th, 1861

After today 150 years ago, Tennessee and the country would never be the same again:

What happened that day would change our country forever. We know that South Carolina had seceded from the Union the previous December 20th. Other States of the Deep South would follow. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas would send delegates to Montgomery in February to establish a new constitution and a new Confederacy. Tennessee, along with much of the Mid-South, resisted secession. It is said that the dearth of slaves in East Tennessee made the Unionist sentiment that is so often spoken of by some practical. The reality was that many slaveholders in East Tennessee were among the most ardent Unionists, largely because they believed that the Union would allow them to keep their slaves if they supported the federal cause.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

The Coming Fight

When SJR 127, the proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution which clarifies that there is no "right to abortion" anywhere in that august document, clears both Houses of the General Assembly, as it almost certainly will, then the real political fight begins:

Neither side can rest on those facts, however. The referendum will not be this November should the legislation clear the General Assembly, but just as with any proposed amendment to the State Constitution, the plebescite will occur in the November of the nearest year in which a Governor is elected-specifically, it will take place on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014. We know what the political climate is in Tennessee now, but much can change in three and a half years.
If the amendment clears both Houses as expected, Tennesseans can expect one of the longest protracted political fights in the modern history of this State.

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