With State Ebola Quarantines, White House Suddenly Discovers States’ Rights and James Madison

October 29th, 2014

I had to do a serious double-take when I saw White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (an apt name for a press secretary if there ever was one!) cited James Madison and states rights in response to a question about state ebola quarantines:

“You could take that up with James Madison,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters inquiring about why there isn’t a sole national standard for isolating people who might have Ebola. “We have a federal system in this country in which states are given significant authority for governing their constituents. That is certainly true when it comes to public safety and public health.”

Huh?????? Surely he can’t mean this. Surely he doesn’t think that matters of health law should remain the provence of the states? Obamacare? Surely this isn’t the same administration that argued in Arizona v. United States that states have no role in ensuring that immigration laws are enforced? Being earnest is important but this is ridiculous.

As the Weekly Standard noted, “Even the Associated Press couldn’t help but point out the hypocrisy. Directly after the Earnest quotation, reporter Josh Lederman wrote:”

That’s ironic, perhaps, coming from an administration that Republicans typically accuse of exceeding its legal authority on issues like immigration, health care and foreign policy.

I look forward to future mentions of James Madison from the White House press room.