US Attorney General John Ashcroft and his DEA minions have been raiding and prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers in California, despite state and local laws making medical marijuana legal. Now the City and County of Santa Cruz and several individual plaintiffs are fighting back. They've sued Ashcroft and the DEA in Federal District Court for injunctive relief and damages. You can access the complaint here (PDF), courtesy of Courthouse News Service.
My prediction for Mr. Ashcroft? You're about to find the 10th Amendment stuck somewhere you never wanted it to be stuck.
Ashcroft and his neo-federalist cronies have recently been bludgeoning the citizens of the several states with the 10th Amendment in an attempted end run around some 40 years of progress in civil rights. The Tenth Amendment says "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."
The Ashcroft team has wielded the Tenth Amendment to invalidate various federal civil rights laws as applied against state governments, arguing that such laws went too far and invaded the powers reserved to the states. To their credit, they've had considerable success. But now the tables may be turning.
I've read the Constitution several times, and I don't recall it saying anything about delegating power over medical marijuana (or anything remotely related) to the United States. I believe that's a power reserved to the States, "or to the people" (who voted for it). That includes the State of California, its City and County of Santa Cruz, and its voters.
The neo-federalists like to argue that the Federal government ought to butt out -- at least when it suits them. For example, they argue that the Federal government should have no role in protecting racial minorities or women or gays or the handicapped, or in regulating firearms. The regulation of these matters was never envisioned as a Federal function by the founders and was "reserved to the states."
Yet anything that threatens their neo-Christian-conservative outlook -- such as medical marijuana, homosexuality, abortion, or (face it . . .) plain old sex -- should not just be regulated, but should immediately be subject to federal law enforcement efforts so aggressive and intrusive that they threaten our most basic constitutional rights to protection from unreasonable searches, seizures, and detentions. Ashcroft has actively worked to suspend or limit all of those those basic protections wherever possible.
It just tickles me pink that the Tenth Amendment -- the same Amendment the neo-Federalists tried to use to limit decades of federal civil rights jurisprudence -- is about to stop them dead in their tracks. Yet another testament to the wisdom of the Drafters.