During the Thanksgiving Family Forum (TFF) this past Saturday, moderator Frank Luntz asked the Republican candidates a very interesting Tenth Amendment question: “Do states have a right to do wrong?”
In case you missed it, the TFF was another unusual event in what is proving to be a very unusual campaign season. Held in a church in Des Moines, Iowa, and with all the GOP contenders in attendance except for Mitt Romney and John Huntsman, it was not a debate as much as a discussion – and a rather intellectual one. The candidates were asked about their faith, trials and tribulations, and talked frankly about Jesus, family, and personal failure. And with social issues front and center, moderator Luntz posed the following question, initially addressing Herman Cain:
Abraham Lincoln once said that “The states do not have the right to do wrong.” ...If the governors had the right to tell Washington “no” – you’re [Cain is] from Georgia – that would have had serious consequences on your youth; I’ve read your background. Do governors in the states, on issues of morality, have the right to tell Washington “no”?
Obviously, what Luntz alluded to involved segregation in the South and the creation of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. And the candidates’ answers varied from the assertion that states don’t have a right to do wrong to Ron Paul’s statement, which was, “The states definitely have a right to be wrong. The states are supposed to correct it. But there are limits. That’s why we have a Constitution.” But while Paul’s response was the best, the complete answer remained unsaid. And in an age of unprecedented trampling of states’ rights, this must not remain the case.
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Selwyn Duke (photo)