Back to Local Laws Back to Opinion Back to Home

Local laws and freedom(Conclusions)

        Most of my conclusions have been stated in the previous sections, however there are a few points that need mentioning. The delegation of authority to the individual states and localities give this country the flexibility needed to govern a variety of people in a variety of situations, and environments. It is plain that the lifestyle in New York City will be far different and will require far different sets of local regulations than that in the mountains of Wyoming, the plains of Dakota, or the vast land of Alaska. Having said this however, it should be borne in mind that all of the citizens of these varied places are also citizens of the nation as a whole, and that the government of this nation guarantees them certain rights and freedoms. This principle is what ended slavery, and the latter Jim Crow laws; it is also what keeps the local press free, and prevents localities from exerting a tyrannical form of self rule over us.
    Every time that the Supreme court renounces authority on issues affecting the entire nation, it invites strife and controversy. It also weakens the final authority of the Constitution, making it less of a living document, and more of a historical one. One of the other frightening things is that a plethora of local laws may make parts of the Constitution, and laws pertaining to it's amendments, moot if proper action by the high court is not taken. This incrementalism has already begun to occur with the attacks on the second, and to a lesser extent the Fifth, Amendment. As an example, how much of a concern would the Constitutionality of a federal law pertaining to the ownership of pistols be to a person living in Chicago, or New York City, where ownership of these guns is already illegal? How much of an issue would this be in a campaign for the local representative to the federal government? This is yet another of the problems with making what should be federal issues the province of state and local government. As more local laws eat away at the basic tenets of the Constitution, there is less relevance in what happens on a national level. Every time this happens we move one step further from a constitutional form of government, and come a little closer to a government run by the decree of our leadership, or the current whim of the most outspoken component of the public.
    This is an undesirable state of affairs, and would subject the nation to what has been referred to as "the tyrany of the majority." This would seem to be the ultimate expression of democracy, but there is a vast difference between democracy and mob rule. One major point to keep in mind would be that most people have only a passing interest in what goes on in government, and tend to be easily influenced by the media, or by what we today call "special interest groups." Often the public will be stirred up by an issue in which there was formerly little interest, only to lose interest almost as quickly, and then move on to something else. This type of reactionary rule is exactly what representative government, and constitutional law are in place to moderate, so that law would not be based on emotional appeal or the temptation to apply quick fixes. There is also the danger that as bad as mob rule would be, this would not even be true mob rule, but merely the rule of whatever groups have the best platform or the most money with which to stir up public opinion. Generations ago we decided that the institution of slavery was not worth risking the loss of the union or of our representative, Constitutional government. Today some of us seem willing to throw this away in order to gain the convenience of on demand abortion, and the false security of stringent restrictions on firearms ownership. A favorite old saying of mine, attributed to Ben Franklin, states "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security attain neither."