In Constitution U.S.A (A More Perfect Union), Peter Sagal rides around the United States in order to interpret the argument on Federalism. He speaks to people who believe in a centralist approach and some who believe in a decentralist approach.
While in Montana, Sagal talks to Gary Marbad, a “very outspoken gun rights advocate”; he claims that federal firearms regulations are taking away his constitutional rights. Rather than focusing on the second amendment, Marbad is targeting the commerce clause. He claims that the federal government has gotten too much power over the years and that it’s “time to roll it back” to the states because the states have a much better relationship with the people. Similarly, in Northern California, the debate on whether selling medical marijuana is legal or not, is taking place. Steve DeAngelo, Harborside's co-founder and executive director, has created a sleek, scientific apothecary to show that cannabis can be professionally distributed and used for health purposes. According to California’s state laws, growing and selling cannabis is perfectly legal; however, under federal laws (United States), the same act is a crime punishable by death. This reflects back into last week’s lesson on federalism. It shows decentralist beliefs of a weaker government and how much the two (decentralism and centralism) differ. They don’t want the government to be involved in their rights and favor local power instead of national power.
On the other hand, Peter Sagal visits places that show the positive aspects of federal control. He visits a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas; during the battle of segregation versus integration, it was the federal government that dramatically stepped in to make a difference. The governor sent the national guard to prevent nine African American students from entering the school. However, Dwight D. Eisenhower used his authority to override the mission; he made it so that the guards now had to protect the kids and escort them to class everyday. This contradicts some beliefs that the federal government should not be allowed to have so much power. If it weren’t for their increasing authority, they would not have been able to take this action and start the change of segregation.
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