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Sen. Winder knows what's best, just ask him

Marty Trillhaase
February 13, 2013
Lewiston Tribune

Nowhere among these 50 states will you find a place more enthralled with states' rights than Idaho.

And nowhere will you find a more ardent champion of that view than Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise.

It was Winder who two years ago joined 23 of his Senate colleagues and 50 members of the House in standing in open defiance of the federal government's authority to implement Obamacare nationwide.

Never mind that constitutional scholar David Adler warned the doctrine of nullification was a flimsy one that taken to its logical conclusion would end in anarchy.

Never mind that assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane told lawmakers that by embracing nullification, they'd be violating their oath of office to support the Constitution of the United States.

And never mind that liberty-loving Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter was compelled to veto their measure.

Then last year, Winder took up the crusade against the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision. In Idaho, if Winder had his way, a woman would first submit to a vaginal ultrasound before exercising her constitutional right to an abortion.

When it comes to standing up for Idaho's rights, Winder is at the ready.

But when it comes to another state's rights, Winder is a chameleon.

Take Washington, for instance.

Last fall, the people voted to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana - and put the state in charge of cultivating, processing and selling it.

The voters of Colorado passed much the same concept, but Washington is moving more quickly toward implementation.

Never in a million years would Idaho take such a step, but Washington and Colorado weren't imposing their will on the Gem State.

Neither were they engaging in nullification.

For instance, national drug laws remain in effect and Washington is not defying them. Instead, the state is saying it will not arrest or prosecute anyone for simple possession. The feds are free to expend their limited law enforcement, prosecutorial and judicial resources rounding up potheads if they so choose.

On the larger question of legalizing production and sale, the state is not challenging federal supremacy. There's not much question the federal government could stop state-sanctioned pot production and sale.

Instead, Washington is seeking an accommodation from the U.S. Department of Justice. Or at a minimum, the state hopes to prod a change in federal marijuana laws.

Winder finds all of this troubling, however.

So last week, he lobbied the Senate State Affairs Committee to sic Uncle Sam on the Evergreen and Centennial states.

His colleagues agreed to consider a resolution urging President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice and Congress to "ensure that federal drug-free policy is upheld in all the states."

Asking the feds to make certain Washington's newly legal pot doesn't find its way across the border into Idaho isn't good enough. Pot is illegal under federal law. Federal law is supreme to state law. Winder wants the law of the land enforced.

In other words, Winder - and presumably his fellow nullifiers in the Legislature - believe they know what's best for the Idahoans who elected them.

They also believe they know what's best for the voters of Colorado and Washington who didn't.

In polite circles, that's known as cherry picking.

In places where English is spoken plainly, it's called hypocrisy.

Originally posted at

The editorial posted here is provided by permission of its original publisher and does not necessarily reflect the views of Idaho Public Television.

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