- Aug 27, 2008
- Reaction score
I was watching the Republican debates in Ames, and one response caught my attention (I can't find a transcript, so excuse me if the details are a bit off). The moderators seemed to note that in light of New York's recognition of gay marriage there was a tension between federalism/10th Amendment/leaving things to the states.
Ron Paul was responding to a question then about whether the states could legalize polygamy under the Constitution (I believe the answer is yes). He compared polygamy to slavery and asserted that modern US states wouldn't do grossly immoral things. It struck me as odd because the right to own slaves is the only individual right, under the 13th Amendment, denied to people (and denied rightly, of course). As such, Paul's answer made little sense, since he was comparing polygamy, unmentioned in the Constitution, to the single practice explicitly banned (other than the defunct ban on liquor in the 18th Amendment).
I've never claimed to be a Constitutional expert, but I do know the 13th Amendment, whereas Paul seems to have forgotten it in the heat of the debate. He was referred to by the moderators as a Constitutional expert, but I've seen no evidence that he is. Well, I suppose he is no Christine O'Donnell, the Senate candidate who was unfamiliar with the Jeffersonian interpretation of church-state relations under the Constitution. Perhaps he is expert compared to his colleagues in Congress. But is this gynecologist turned politician really an expert in the sense of having a technical knowledge of the Constitution that surpasses, say, a pretty smart lawyer?
You missed the point of what he was saying. His point wasn't that slavery was constitutional, his point was that if left to their own devices the states won't resort to doing horrible things like making slavery legal so they don't need the federal government lording over them telling them what to do.