Jonathan Adler takes a look at Fred Thompson’s consistent federalism on key issues, including abortion and gay rights.
Ultimately, any “solution” to these issues will involve the basic principles of federalism, the way the Founders intended. (There’s an excellent article in the first issue University of St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy by Prof. Robert Delahunty on this topic. Sadly, it’s not online anywhere.) Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned (which it should be as it’s simply bad law), that won’t end abortion in this country. The reality is that such decisions are designed to be left to the states. What works for South Dakota does not work for California. What works for Massachusetts may not work for Texas. The reason why the Founders created a federal system is to accommodate the reality that this nation is not homogenous in its views and that the powers of the federal government should be limited to enforcing only those things that have a national consensus behind them.
Thompson’s views may be consistent, but it’s an open question whether they’ll help him politically or not. Giuliani has similar views, and while he’s in the lead, many social conservatives are sitting on the fence so far. However, Thompson is showing that his commitment to the principles of federalism are genuine, even on tough issues. This nation needs a leader in the Oval Office who understands that one-size-fits-all federalist solutions don’t work, and so far the Republican front-runners seem to be moving in that direction.