Via the Corner. In her defense, I believe MSNBC contributors are contractually required to use the word “neo-confederate” to describe right-wingers at least three times a year. (Kidding. I hope.)
Her point here, I think, goes like this: Righties believe in states’ rights and the Tenth Amendment, which is essentially a *winkwink* “neo-confederate” outlook, except when it comes to guns, when they to go running to the Bill of Rights to torpedo duly enacted state gun-control laws. Sub in the word “federalist” for “neo-confederate” there and yes, all of that is basically true. And? 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.” Err on the side of devolving power to the state level, in other words, unless the supreme law of the land says something on point to the contrary. Surely she doesn’t think conservatives believe that principle applies exclusively to the Second Amendment.
The animosity among tea partiers towards NSA surveillance as a violation of the Fourth Amendment won’t change if the NSA decides to outsource its powers to state governments. Conservative support for free exercise under the First Amendment won’t wane if HHS chooses to let states enact contraception mandates under ObamaCare instead of doing it at the federal level either. If she’s making the point that policy priorities tend to influence one’s view of when a constitutional right trumps state power, that’s fine, but the left’s just as guilty of that. There are no bigger fans of expansive Commerce Clause power than modern liberals, but good luck getting them to sign on to a law passed by Congress under that provision that would restrict abortion nationally. To borrow Reid’s phrasing, there’s a neo-socialist thread among them, but that doesn’t stop them from drawing a line when they think especially favored rights are under threat.
Exit question via Noah Rothman: Is “neo-confederate” really the best description for people who are appealing for authority to the U.S. Constitution?