Monday, March 01, 2004

Federalism Cuts Both Ways

Eugene (who tentatively favors same-sex unions) says the following Constitutional amendment would be defensible on federalist grounds:
No part of this Constitution shall be interpreted as requiring any state, or the federal government, to recognize or allow same-sex marriages.
I agree. But if we’re going to insert a new amendment purely for the purpose of safeguarding federalism, why not add the following?
Nor shall any part of this Constitution be interpreted as prohibiting any state, or the federal government, from recognizing or allowing same-sex marriages.
This addendum would assure the correct federalist interpretation. Now, I suppose it might be superfluous, because the “part of this Constitution” that might conceivably be interpreted to require recognition of same-sex marriages is the Full Faith and Credit clause, and no plausible interpretation of that clause would prohibit a state from recognizing another state’s authorized same-sex marriages. Still, there’s nothing wrong with a little redundancy in defense of principle and clarity. Furthermore, tacking on this extra bit would force conservatives who oppose it to admit their disagreement with the federalist principles to which they so often pay lip-service.

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