The Rising Partisan Use Of Preemption
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.