Liberty Just in Case

A Dialogue for the September 12th World


Posted by Mark on September 6, 2005

This will be cross posted in a revised form to Balance of Power later this week.
If you read nothing else, please read Nariel’s response to this post when it’s up on BoP. I could not agree with her more.

I honestly am not ready to do this. It seems somehow…inapropriate…to engage in the blame game over the greatest natural disaster of our time. But those on the left appear to be itching to blame Mr. Bush and the Federal Government for Katrina. A timely example of this blame game is from my friend Joe, in a series of comments from my previous post on this topic. I would ask Joe, and others on the left the following questions from Hugh Hewitt’s latest post:

What is the “police power?”

Where does it reside?

Is there a federal “police power?”

Can the federal government order the evacuation of a city when state and local officials have not done so?

Who has first call on a state’s national guard?

Who controls a city’s police department?

Can a federal official order a police department to deploy in strength to specific points within a city such as the Supredome or the Convention Center?

Can a federal official commandeer a city’s supply of school busses, city busses, and city personnel?

I would strongly suggest (that’s a therapist’s nonjudgmental way of saying, “If you have half a brain in your head you’ll do this.”) you seek answers to these questions before making any more comments like my friend Joseph’s. Hugh gives some remedial help for those of us non-lawyers who need it:

For starters, the police power resides in the states. There is no general federal police power. It is the power to take care of a citizenry’s health, safety and morals. It was described by Chief Justice Taney in the Licensee Cases this way:

But what are the police powers of a State? They are nothing more or less than the powers of government inherent in every sovereignty to the extent of its dominion. And whether a state passes a quarantine law, as a law to punish offenses, as to establish courts of justice, or requiring certain instruments to be recorded, as to regulate commerce within its own limits, in every case it exercises the same power; that is to say, the power of sovereignty, the power to govern men and things within the limits of its dominion.

“To the extent of its dominion,” is the key phrase. For the federal government to act in the face of a natural disaster, it’s help must be requested and its guidance accepted by the state and local officials.

“States are accorded wide latitude in the regulation of their local economies under their police powers,” the Supreme Court wrote in the 1976 case of New Orleans v. Dukes, and that wide latitude extends to every aspect of disaster planning (or non-planning.)

That sound you hear is the door slamming shut in your face as you try to gin up another attack on President Bush. This time, the door you are trying to open is standing on the thousands of dead across the Gulf Coast. The left should be ashamed of themselves. But they aren’t. Nor will most of those on the left even come close to an apology when the truth comes out of how inept, and politically corrupt the Democrat Mayor, and the Democrat Governor, and the Democrat administration of New Orleans really was, and is. Oh, and don’t leave the Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu out of this. Her hubby is the Lt. Governor, actively involved in emergency planning and disaster relief.

The hundreds of drowned buses stand as silent testimony to where much of the blame should reside for not getting people out of New Orleans. There will be plenty of blame to go around, and some will reside in the lap of the new, unwieldy bureaucracy (unwieldy and bureaucracy are what’s know as an oxymoron) known as the Dept of Homeland Security. We are now seeing that President Bush should have followed his conservative instincts, and not agreed to the Left’s wailing for a new government agency. Conservatives stand for limited government. Each time President Bush forgets this maxim, our nation pays the price. And who says I never criticize the President?

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