Note: this piece was originally published in The Atlantic, and was co-authored by Checks & Balances member Paul Rosenzweig.
Twenty years ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist—not generally thought of as a radical liberal—said: “We can think of no better example of the police power, which the Founders denied the National Government and reposed in the States, than the suppression of violent crime and vindication of its victims.” Last week Attorney General William Barr went full interventionist, telling the press that he was deploying federal law-enforcement officers to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico (this coming after the previous week’s deployment to Portland), to combat “violent criminal activity.” President Trump said much the same thing as he rattled off cities his administration was eyeing for future intervention—Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit—because of “gun violence” and “drugs.”How greatly have traditional conservative values of federalism and limited government been transformed. Today, a sitting Republican president invokes the power of the federal government to send militarized Department of Homeland Security agents (equipped with military-grade weapons, body armor, tear gas, and camouflage, like armed forces entering a war zone) to swarm American city streets under unwritten rules of engagement. If video evidence now circulating is to be credited, these agents are not merely protecting federal property; they have detained citizens who aren’t violating any law and used the power of their presence to chill civil protests and disobedience.
This is a complete corruption of conservative ideals. There is nothing conservative about unconstitutional police activity, and there is nothing conservative about unilateral federal intervention in state affairs. Those are the acts of an authoritarian.
Continue reading at The Atlantic.