It's Time for Merrick Garland to Put the 'Federal' in 'Federalism' the Way Dwight Eisenhower Did in 1957

·3-min read
Photo credit: Kevin Dietsch - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kevin Dietsch - Getty Images

Here at the shebeen, we gave it a week, the exact timeline of Creation, including the day of rest and football. We gave the country a chance to straighten up, fly right, and get its scattered shit together. Lo and behold, the country is still angry, stupid, and sick as a dog. The horse paste is still flying off the shelves. The elite political media continues to embarrass itself in relation to Afghanistan, and the president, and any combination thereof. (Were the editors of the New York Times deep into the ‘shrooms when they green-lit this thing?) One whole week and…nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing. This is an interesting unlimbering by the Department of Justice. From the Washington Post:

The Justice Department is exploring “all options” to challenge Texas’s restrictive abortion law, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday, as he vowed to provide support to abortion clinics that are “under attack” in the state and to protect those seeking and providing reproductive health services. The move by the nation’s top law enforcement official comes just days after the Supreme Court refused to block a Texas abortion statute that bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest. The court’s action stands as the most serious threat to Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling establishing a right to abortion, in nearly 50 years.

I know that some people have been frustrated by what appears to be Merrick Garland’s dilatory approach to investigating the former president* and all the rest of the staff from Camp Runamuck. I feel much the same way. But, if the DOJ acts on this, it’s a very encouraging development. If Garland decides to give Greg Abbott in Texas a little taste of what Eisenhower gave Orval Faubus in 1957, or what the Kennedy brothers gave Ross Barnett in 1962, that’s all to the good. It’s past time that the “federal” part of federalism gets exercised again. The central government has a duty, based in the ninth and 14th amendments, to safeguard the civil liberties of its citizens against any threat to them, including those posed by state governments and state governors. As Dolores Barclay told history.com:

Eisenhower was boxed into a corner and reached a point where he had to show the power of the federal government and chop off continued insurrection of southern segregationists. His decision was decidedly political—to maintain federal power—and to ensure that Brown was enforced.

It’s time to flex that power again. Even the shadow-docket card trick from the Supreme Court allows that, theoretically anyway, the right to privacy and the right to terminate a pregnancy that is derived from it both remain intact. The ridiculously gerrymandered statehouses and the fanatical ideologues in the governor’s offices have left the administration, and the central government, no choice but to defend that right against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

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