From: Tim Thornton
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 21:55:56 -0500 (CDT)
Here is another federal court that doesn't get it. Comments follow this excerpt from a 9/9/95 Associated Press article.


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A Federal appeals court on Friday upheld the Brady gun law's requirement that local law enforcement agencies check the backgrounds of prospective handgun buyers.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, said the record checks were only a minor burden that did not violate state sovereignty.

[...] federal judges in five states [...] have ruled that the federal government cannot require local agencies to conduct the checks.

The 9th Circuit's ruling overturned the Montana and Arizona cases and also applies to seven other states in the nations's largest federal circuit.

"The obligation imposed on state officers by the Brady Act is not more remarkable than, say, the federally imposed duties of state officers to report missing children ... or traffic fatalities," said the opinion by Judge William Canby.


I believe that Canby displays astounding arrogance in the opinion he gives.

Canby calls compliance with Brady "a minor burden". He then goes on to say that this Minor Burden is no more remarkable than any other Minor Burden that the federal government has imposed on the states.

Let's say for the purpose of illustration that each Minor Burden can be represented by a rock the size of a golf ball. I'm sure that Judge Canby could carry that rock around all day in the pocket of his judicial robe without even noticing it.

So much for each minor burden.

But now, for our illustration to better reflect the reality that the states face, let Judge Canby carry around two or three thousand golf-ball-sized Minor Burdens all day. Canby seems to imply that three thousand rocks weigh the same as one, and of course they don't. The cumulative burden of these federal mandates is indeed what is sparking the "states' rights revolution".

The states are starting to cry "foul!" now, but they should have done it many years ago. Almost lost in the debate over whether the burdens are "heavy" or "light" is the question: Does the federal government have the constitutional authority to impose these burdens at all? Where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government has the right to force the states to report missing children or traffic fatalities? Where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government has the right to compel counties to conduct background checks on U.S. citizens for any reason?

Look it up, folks. The federal government was originally intended to be the servant of the states, not vice versa. State governments are not administrative subdivisions of the federal government -- if we insist on treating them as such, let's start calling them provinces, not states. After that, we can all gather in Washington, D.C. for a ceremonial burning of the Constitution.