Trump’s actions re-ignite states’ rights debate

Lawmakers and others in Democratic-leaning states have been howling over the past year about actions by the Trump administration and congressional Republicans that they say have undermined states’ rights. That includes promoting concealed carry legislation and attacking sanctuary status for immigrants to this week’s decisions on legalized marijuana and offshore oil drilling.

But it wasn’t too long ago that the shoe was on the other foot, with Republican states pushing back against the Obama administration’s intrusions on issues such as transgender rights and environmental regulation.

Promoting the constitutional protections for states’ rights — outlined in the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — has always been popular among politicians. But it also is situational. Recent history shows that how strongly a party feels about states’ rights can depend on whether it’s in power and how a specific policy affects other constitutional rights.

There’s been a steady flow of lawsuits from mostly Democratic-controlled states opposing Trump administration policies, partly on states’ rights grounds. That follows a pattern set by Republican-led states, which repeatedly sued the Obama administration.

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Following is a look at some current and recent battles involving states’ rights arguments:



The federal government’s position on state laws legalizing marijuana is the latest high-profile states’ rights fight.

This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a 2013 Obama Administration policy pledging that federal authorities would not crack down on marijuana operations in states where they were legal as long as the states maintained tight regulations.

After Sessions’ announcement, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, said Sessions was violating the will of the people of Colorado, a state where recreational marijuana is legal. Gardner threatened to hold nominations to the Department of Justice over the change.

Before the Obama administration’s announcement, states felt more risk in advancing laws to allow recreational or medical use of cannabis, which is classified under federal law as a dangerous drug. Since then, state laws allowing marijuana have become more common.

Currently, most states allow medical use. Recreational marijuana is legal in eight states, including California, where legal sales began this…

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