Reporting from Washington — The Obama administration launched its long-expected
legal attack on Arizona's strict new immigration law Tuesday, arguing
that only Washington can set the nation's rules for arresting illegal
Yesterday, the Supreme Court ended its term with a bang with a ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicagothat state gun control regulations can be struck down by federal courts based on the Second Amendment. While the number and scale of blockbuster decisions was not so high this session, the singular impact of the Citizens Unitedcase earlier in the term unleashing unregulated corporate money on elections, combined with the dangerous implications of the Rent-A-Center, West v. Jacksonarbitration decision, emphasizes the pro-corporate bias the Supreme Court has increasingly exercised in recent years.
The challenge for progressives from this “states rights” movement is not that any of these laws are likely to survive in court, but that conservatives too often get away with claiming to stand for constitutional values without significant challenge from progressives. The reality is that the right wing has no credibility in promoting their states’ rights arguments and should be challenged more directly. As this Dispatch will outline, their arguments fail on multiple grounds.
After years of states leading the fight to promote clean energy and
reverse climate change and the House passing an energy bill last year,
U.S. Senate leaders have finally introduced climate change legislation,
Power Act (APA). The bill is lengthy and complex with compromises
that many leading environmental groups object to, although other groups have more positive evaluations of the
bill as a flawed, but important step forward.
As Congress debates federal financial reform legislation, a key priority
for financial industry lobbyists remains gutting provisions that would
strengthen enforcement by state attorneys general and stopping the
partial restoration of state powers to regulate national bank abuses
against consumers. As we
detailed three years ago, much of the damage to communities from
subprime lending might have been avoided if the Bush Administration had
not been able to shut down most state anti-predatory lending laws early
in the decade.
Gridlock. Slow fulfillment of promises of change in D.C. A health
care bill so compromised that even supporters are unhappy with many
details. Frustration with D.C. seemed to be the clearest message from Massachusetts voters on Tuesday. But what can we expect other than gridlock and resistance when a
59-seat super-majority in the U.S. Senate is insufficient to pass
serious legislation? Or when monied interests in D.C. buy off support
to block serious reforms on financial regulations, health care and
climate change legislation? This is why bold, progressive leadership in the states matters.
Yesterday, the U.S. House Banking Committee defeated amendments that
would have gutted provisions in law to restore state powers to protect
consumers of national banks. Instead, the Committee approved compromise language
that, while not as expansive in the protection of state legislation as
the Obama administration had urged, is still a significant victory
overall against large financial interests. By a vote of 29-38, the
committee defeated a proposed amendment by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) that would have preempted all state regulation of national financial institutions.
The context of this call is that, in the wake of the financial meltdown
that engulfed the country last year largely caused by fraud and
predatory lending, Congress is now debating the Consumer Financial
Protection Agency Act (CFPA Act, H 3126).
The act would create a consumer product protection agency for
financial products analogous to the Consumer Product Safety Board.