In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and…
CFIF on Twitter CFIF on YouTube
First Amendment Rights: Good News from the IRS on Donor Privacy

In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and First Amendment expression, there’s actually good news to report.

In fact, that positive development comes from none other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which few people typically consider a font of good news.

Specifically, the IRS just announced a proposed rule to stop requiring nonprofit organizations to file what’s known as a Form 990 Schedule B, which exposes sensitive donor information not only to the federal government and potential rogues like former IRS official Lois Lerner, but also people who seek to access and use that information to target people on the basis of political belief.

As we at CFIF have long asserted, this welcome move will help protect the…[more]

September 12, 2019 • 11:07 am

Liberty Update

CFIFs latest news, commentary and alerts delivered to your inbox.
Jester's CourtroomLegal tales stranger than stranger than fiction: Ridiculous and sometimes funny lawsuits plaguing our courts.
The Results Are In: Red States Dominate Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, January 23 2014
When the states are actually run as laboratories, their experiments are the ones that work.

Defenders of federalism — the practice of devolving as much power as practicable to state and local governments, consistent with the 10th Amendment to the Constitution — often cite as their mantra the phrase of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who wrote in his 1932 dissent in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann that "a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

Brandeis’ quotation gets the principle right, even if its phrasing leaves something to be desired. It’s not just that state-level innovation mitigates risk by quarantining the effect of new policies; it’s also that such efforts can have a positive effect, serving as examples for the rest of the nation of what works and what doesn’t.

In truth, there’s a fair amount of irony in the quote’s source. Brandeis was appointed to the Supreme Court by Woodrow Wilson and shared the academic-turned-president’s progressive leanings. The quote seems an anachronism today; Brandeis’s modern heirs tend to take a jaundiced view of states’ rights (often conflating them with the suffering of African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow) and are hardly known for their enthusiasm for federalism.

Here’s another irony: progressives were known for their affection for “scientific management” — the notion that an elite cadre of intellectuals ought to be shaping policy for the public good. Indeed, notice that Brandeis’ famous quote relies on scientific diction: the states as “laboratories.” But if progressives fancied themselves the guardians of science and reason (a trait that endures to this day), wouldn’t the whole point of ‘experimentation’ be to reveal reliable truths that could be replicated elsewhere? If so, the left is going to be disappointed.

Last week, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University released a ranking of the states according to their solvency. Alaska was ranked as having the best fiscal condition in the nation, followed by South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, Montana and Alabama. At the bottom of the list: West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut and, worst in the nation, New Jersey.

Notice a commonality? Nearly all of the top 10 (with the exceptions of the swing states of Florida and Ohio) are red states that prize economic freedom. Nearly all of the dregs are regulatory, interventionist, tax-and-spend blue states.

The genius of federalism isn’t just that it allows experiments like this to be run; it’s that it allows a free migration zone throughout the country, allowing citizens to vote with their feet upon witnessing the outcomes. The results: you guessed it—more heartburn for the left. From April 2010 to July 2012, the 10 states with the highest levels of inbound domestic migration were: Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Georgia and Oregon. They’re not all red states, but inflows to places like Oregon, Washington (which has no state income tax) and Colorado become more intelligible when you realize just how many citizens are fleeing the economic wasteland of California. The Golden State saw the third-highest level of outmigration (behind New York and Illinois), and was joined in the top 10 by New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, Connecticut, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Indiana. That’s a list that ought to keep the left up at night.

Believers in economic freedom should take pride in this list. When the states are actually run as laboratories, their experiments are the ones that work. Before they get too excited, however, it’s worth issuing a note of caution: The more the federal government expands, the less the states have the chance to flower.

We’ve seen consistent encroachment on states’ rights throughout the Obama Administration on everything from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion (where the president was slapped down by the Supreme Court) to education (where the feds consistently attempt to insert themselves in everything from school lunches to bullying laws).

If these efforts aren’t resisted — if the federal government continues to crowd out the power of the states — than Americans’ freedom to choose the kind of government they want to live under will be greatly constrained. Federalism — like all liberties, for that matter — is fragile, and relies on the vigilance of the citizenry for its survival. That’s a fight worth joining — lest the whole nation end up as one big blue state some day in the not-too-distant future.

Question of the Week   
On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked by terrorists using which one of the following?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"There's an old joke often expressed well into banquets and conferences, where a speaker says, 'We're at the point where everything that needs to be said has been said, but not everyone has said it.' We're already at that point with the Democratic primary debates. Tonight was a three-hour ordeal, and candidates largely repeated the arguments they made in the previous two debates. There's not much…[more]
 
 
—Jim Geraghty, National Review
— Jim Geraghty, National Review
 
Liberty Poll   

Is the desire to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan in conflict with the lessons of September 11, 2001?