Shortly after World War II, Winston Churchill spoke of an Iron Curtain descended across Europe. The curtain was made concrete with the erection by the Soviets of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The purpose of that wall was more than simply to divide the USSR and its occupied territories from the rest of Europe; it was to keep the people inside that wall—inside the USSR or those occupied territories—from leaving for a better place, for a place where freedom and individual choice could be had.
Shortly after our Revolutionary War, our Founders wrote, and We the People ratified, our Constitution and its attendant Bill of Rights, which include the 10th Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
So was born a Federation and ultimately 50 laboratories of democracy, particularly as described by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co v Liebmann when he wrote in his dissent how a:
state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.
Now keep in mind the concern of John Jay who, while the Constitution was being drafted in those fateful summer days, considered that, in contrast to the failing Articles of Confederation, the States should be reduced to the same relationship to the proposed central government as counties then had relative to their States (although, in the event, he strongly advocated ratification of the Constitution itself):
merely as districts to facilitate the purposes of domestic order and good government.
Next, consider these activities of our Federal government:
- it terminated the democratic discussion in progress among and within the several states concerning abortion and when it might be appropriate or inappropriate, nationalizing the thing in Roe.
- it terminated the discussion in progress among and within the several states concerning the nature of marriage, nationalizing the thing in Obergefell.
- it terminated the democratic discussion in progress among and within the several states concerning the provision of health care and of health insurance, nationalizing the thing with the Affordable Care Act.
- it terminated the democratic discussion in progress among and within the several states concerning the market behavior of private enterprise, nationalizing the thing with Dodd-Frank.
- it removed from all possibility of local discussion the relationship between private enterprise and private citizens with the creation of the wholly unaccountable Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The list goes on.
The USSR’s physical iron curtain was designed to keep people from leaving in an era when they had a place to go to. There is another kind of iron curtain, though.
Our government is no longer requiring—as the Constitution above it does in Article IV, Section 1—that every state honor the decisions of every other state. Rather, it’s demanding that every state behave the same as every other state.
With the reduction of our 50 laboratories of democracy to mere districts to facilitate the purposes of the Federal government, this government is erecting a legalist iron curtain by deprecating the 10th Amendment, and so denying Americans a place to go to, denying us any place more compatible with our individual views, needs, moral imperatives.