Answering the “It’s worthless without teeth” Objection

Whenever we report on a bill to withdraw state and local support or resources to the enforcement of a federal act or program, we tend to get a small number of people who tell us the action is worthless without “teeth.”

In short, we’re told, if the states aren’t going to start locking up federal agents, there’s no point.

This one is a much-more friendly example, in response to a report about a bill to decriminalize industrial hemp farming:

Great! But when he feds raid the grower’s property–will the state intervene to keep them from arresting the grower? Only if the state is prepared to do this will the law have “teeth”.

Keep in mind, James Madison never recommended that state agents arrest feds – and I haven’t been able to find any other founder who recommended this either. Madison, more specifically, recommended a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” as an effective method to bring down federal programs.  In my view, if it’s good enough for Madison, it’s good enough for me.

Interestingly enough, from the same quarters – not necessarily the exact same people – we hear calls to have the federal government force “sanctuary cities” to enforce federal immigration law.

Keep in mind, no sanctuary city out of the 300+ – not a single one – has “teeth” to their policies. In fact, they all employ the strategy of simply refusing to help the feds enforce federal immigration law.

But no one seems to be claiming that sanctuary city policies are a failure because they lack “teeth.”  In fact, whether you agree with the policies or not, it seems that everyone agrees that merely refusing to help the federal government enforce its laws has done great damage to those laws – if not nullified them completely.

The question, of course, is this – will people learn from them and put this into practice on other issues?

In my opinion, calls for “teeth” are more testosterone than fact.

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