Finley: Sessions is no conservative
Jeff Sessions is no conservative.
I’ve known the genuine article, principled thinkers who hold true to an original reading of the United States Constitution and its clear separation of powers aimed at preventing the central government from growing more powerful than the governed.
The U.S. attorney general has no place among them. He gives lip service to federalism, the concept that individual freedom is maximized when Washington cedes all but a limited and enumerated set of powers to the states.
Sessions is no federalist, either.
Sessions is nothing more than a Puritan, a moralist who trumpets the rule of law until it gets in the way of him imposing his personal belief system on the broad American populace.
He walks on common ground with the know-it-all leftists who champion an end-justifies-the-means system of governing that readily scraps the founding principles in the name of shaping a more perfect society.
Sessions demonstrated his version of social totalitarianism again last week by suspending Obama-era guidances that allowed federal prosecutors to defer to the will of the states in enforcing federal marijuana laws.
The former president, despite his frequent disregard for the Constitution, recognized that pot legalization was an inevitable juggernaut. Nearly every time the issue of legalizing marijuana, either for medical or recreational use, has been on a state ballot, voters have handily approved it. California became the latest and largest state to normalize pot use and sales on Jan. 1.
These ballot referendums are the purist expression of the popular will of the people of the states.
Yet Sessions, from his perch in Washington, is telling the states they can’t exercise the constitutional authority assigned to them to adapt and enforce a system of laws regulating the activity of their citizens within their borders.
In raising the specter that millions of marijuana users in states where it is legal will be treated as criminals by federal prosecutors, Sessions risks derailing the building movement to decriminalize pot.
Of course, that is his intent. And while it may jibe with his personal values, it is an affront to the 10th Amendment that Republicans love to salute when a Democrat is sitting in the White House, but take a knee when the occupant is one of their own.
Last year, Sessions swept away another set of Obama-era policies that limited civil forfeitures by federal law enforcement agencies. Allowing the government to seize private property without a criminal conviction, or often even an arrest, knocks the stuffing out of the Fourth Amendment.
Sessions and others who hide their disrespect for property rights beneath a law-and-order cloak are enabling police state tactics that have no place in a republic ruled by a fealty to due process.
To their credit, some conservative political leaders are calling out Sessions for his abuse of federalism and the Constitution. But the rebukes are too few.
And that leads to the disheartening conclusion that many, if not most, of those who call themselves conservatives today have no better sense of what conservative means than does the priggish attorney general.
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