THE "STATES' RIGHTS" SCAM. As a follow-up to Garance below, it's worth noting that in a sane universe yesterday would put an end to the already-silly idea that most Republicans have a strong commitment to state autonomy, or that Republican opposition to the Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence is about preserving state power rather than about a substantive opposition to abortion. (You may remember this nonsense recently in the New York Times from staunch feminist Ann Althouse, who claimed that Rudy Giuliani's intent to pack the courts with statist reactionaries who would allow the state to force women to carry pregnancies to term is about enhancing freedom (!) because it was really about states' rights. Rudy, needless to say, supported yesterday's opinion; how this fits into his alleged belief that abortion should constitutionally be left to the states is unclear.)

Congress not only passed a ban on a federal abortion procedure, but as Garance points out pre-empted state regulations not to put forward an alternative policy but just to stop states from making their own policy choices. Whatever the constitutional merits of these decisions, then, the idea that Republican opposition to Roe stems from a principled commitment to states' rights is farcical. Since giving more power to the states will more often than not lead to substantive outcomes conservatives find congenial -- less regulation of the economy, more regulation of individual moral choices -- it's a convenient selectively applied rhetorical trope. But as the laws upheld yesterday make abundantly clear, the number of people who will choose "federalism" when it actually conflicts with a strongly held substantive principle could fit in an economy Tokyo studio.

--Scott Lemieux

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