Republicans’ commitment to States’ Rights took an interesting turn on Thursday when Republican Attorneys General from Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the state of Colorado for legalizing marijuana. E. Scott Pruitt (R-OK) and Jon Bruning (R-NE) filed a joint lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court alleging that Colorado’s law injures the ability of neighboring states to enforce their laws against marijuana.
Because neighboring states have expressed concern about Colorado-grown marijuana coming into their states, we are not entirely surprised by this action. However, it appears the plaintiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado. We believe this suit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against it in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The conflict between the states pits the libertarian wing of the GOP against the authoritarian wing of the party. Rather than acknowledge the failure of the drug war, the Attorney Generals of Nebraska and Oklahoma are hell-bent on prosecuting recreational pot smokers. Now they can scapegoat Colorado for the failure of their own states reactionary anti-marijuana policies.
The voters of Colorado voted to legalize marijuana. Oklahoma and Nebraska may not agree with that decision, but the law does not apply to their states. Colorado should not need the approval of their neighbors to pass state laws. States Rights Republicans should defend Colorado’s right to pass its own laws. If they do not, they will reveal themselves as simple opportunists, who value States Rights only when a state makes a conservative decision. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, they should rule in favor of Colorado and argue that its neighbors have no authority to repeal Colorado state law.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.