The Ris­ing Par­ti­san Use Of Pre­emp­tion

MidWeek (Hawaii) - - Front Page - THE LOW­DOWN Jim Hightower

We the Peo­ple are be­ing bur­gled. Again. The lat­est hit is just the lat­est in a long string of po­lit­i­cal rob­beries, a na­tion­wide crime wave be­ing pulled off by mon­eyed elites and their po­lit­i­cal hench­men.

With each heist, they haul off a lit­tle more of our demo­cratic power: the abil­ity of the work­ing ma­jor­ity to have any real say in the cor­po­rate and gov­ern­men­tal de­ci­sions that af­fect us.

The e l i t e s a r e mas­ter thieves, of­ten pluck­ing pieces of our power with­out us re­al­iz­ing it, un­til we try to use it and — ph­httt — it’s gone.

And yet an­other democ­racy-steal­ing tool has re­cently been fab­ri­cated and qui­etly dis­trib­uted to prof­i­teer­ing cor­po­ra­tions and right-wing ide­o­logues through­out the coun­try: pre­emp­tion.

This con­cept has been around since Day One of our na­tion, con­tained i n the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and in sim­i­lar clauses in state con­sti­tu­tions.

It al­lows higher lev­els of gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene and over­rule lower lev­els — the Feds can legally pre­empt state and l ocal l aws, and states can pre­empt city and county or­di­nances.

Ob­vi­ously, this ex­treme power is fraught with dan­ger, s o i t ’s meant t o be used spar­ingly and only to ad­vance a very big public pur­pose like, for ex­am­ple, over­rid­ing state and lo­cal rank racial dis­crim­i­na­tion.

In just the past half-dozen years, some of the greed­i­est cor­po­ra­tions and grub­bi­est of politi­cos have col­luded to take pre­emp­tion into their own hands.

Dis­card­ing the con­cept’s core prin­ci­ple of serv­ing the public in­ter­est, they’re presently wield­ing its nul­li­fy­ing power as a cud­gel to clob­ber demo­cratic rule and im­pose spe­cial in­ter­est poli­cies against the will of the peo­ple.

As you might ex­pect, Trump & Co. are big on fed­eral pre­emp­tion. They’re tar­get­ing a mul­ti­tude of state and lo­cal laws for ex­tinc- tion, in­clud­ing pop­u­lar and ef­fec­tive pro­vi­sions en­acted to en­sure work­place safety, pro­vide con­sumer pro­tect i on, es­tab­lish sanc­tu­ary cities, ex­pand vot­ing rights, pre­vent air and wa­ter pol­lu­tion, re­duce gun vi­o­lence, main­tain public over­sight im­prove chil­dren’s health and mit­i­gate cli­mate change.

It’s at the state level, how­ever, that the in­tru­sive and abu­sive power of pre­emp­tion is ex­plod­ing, as to­day’s right- wing gover­nors and leg­is­la­tors rapidly es­ca­late a state war t o quash pro­gres­sive ac­tions by l ocal gov­ern­ments and grass­roots move­ments. Democ­racy be damned.

Far from ad­vanc­ing any big public goals, pre­emp­tion is now be­ing used to ad­vance cor­po­rate agen­das. A Fe­bru­ary re­port by t he Na­tional League of Cities found:

• 24 states pre­empt lo­cal au­thor­i­ties from in­creas­ing the min­i­mum wage;

• 17 pre­empt lo­cal or­di­nances pro­vid­ing paid-leave

• 3 pre­empt city reg­u­la­tion of home-shar­ing net­works such as Airbnb;

• 37 pre­empt the au­thor­ity - ty stan­dards for ride-shar­ing cor­po­ra­tions such as Uber;

• 17 pre­empt mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from pro­vid­ing low-cost broadband ser­vice to res­i­dents (who oth­er­wise get no in­ter­net ser­vice at all or are stuck with mo­nop­o­lies like Com­cast);

• 42 pre­empt lo­cal of­fi­cials’ au­thor­ity to in­crease taxes to meet lo­cal needs.

And there’s much more.

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