Keith E. Whittington kewhitt at PRINCETON.EDU
Thu Feb 22 11:29:29 PST 2001

lweinberg wrote:

> I should
> think nothing in the dignity or autonomy of the state is offended when it
> complies with national antidiscrimination policy.

That assumes that dignity and autonomy requires adherence to the national
government's understanding of what a proper antidiscrimination policy should look
like.  But federalism is centrally about recognizing that local political
communities could reach a range of reasonable resolutions to such public questions
(of course, the 14th Amend. is centrally about narrowing that range), and that the
first responsibility for making such choices lies in the states.  The dignity and
autonomy of the state is offended when the national government does not allow
those choices to be made and assumes that the states would not choose "correctly,"
just as one might imagine that the dignity and autonomy of an individual is
offended when the government does not allow the individual to make fundamental
choices.  Perhaps the offense would be clearer if the "national antidiscrimination
policy" to which the states were forced to comply was actually less liberal than
the one autonomously chosen by various states?

Keith Whittington
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