Thomas Quinn is an Emmy-nominated producer and writer for television and print, an author and speaker, and a skeptic.

He received his M.F.A. from the American Film Institute, worked as a story analyst for DreamWorks, Universal and HBO, and was a film critic and entertainment reporter for a Los Angeles weekly.

In 2005, Tom received two Emmy nominations as writer and producer of "Beyond the Da Vinci Code" for the History Channel.

Originally from New Jersey, he now lives in Los Angeles.

States Rights vs. States Wrongs

     Recently, North Carolina has been considering a bill that would declare an official state religion (I’ll let you guess which one), in direct violation of the First Amendment separating church from state. The legislators pushing this 14th century notion argue that the Constitution only bans the federal government from recognizing religion. In their view, the states are apparently free reopen the Inquisition and burn heretics at the stake if they don’t adopt good Christian attitudes like the right to own assault weapons. This, and many more GOP bills in statehouses eroding constitutionally protected rights like voting and abortion, raises the issue of whose rights are right. The bogus argument from the states is that they protect us from the oppressions of an all-powerful federal government. In reality it is the reverse.

     Throughout the entire history of the United States it is the STATES that have oppressed the rights of the citizens and it is the federal government that has defended us against the tyranny of the states. It is the STATES that defended slavery, Jim Crow, separate-but-equal, and segregation. It is the states that banned interracial marriage and opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It is the states that threw gay people in prison, opposed voting rights for women, refused to support equal pay for equal work, and are now trying to ban abortion rights and contraceptive freedom. It is the states that pass laws against certain religions, and which try to dictate what you can see in the movies, read in a library or find on the internet. Today, it is the states trying to limit voting rights across the country. 

We keep hearing from the state tyrants that our government was designed to have a weak central government. Sorry, but no. The Framers tried that–it was called The Articles of Confederation. Didn’t work. Everyone hated them because the government couldn’t do anything. The Constitution of 1787 greatly increased the power and authority of the federal government over what the Articles provided. This is why the states demanded a Bill of Rights, because of all that new power. (Nobody needed such a bill for the Articles because they made the government so weak.) As for the claim that the states are more in touch with the people, and are more efficient than the federal government…ever been to the DMV or the Social Security Office? All run by the states and considered by no one to examples of efficiency. Don’t like the condition of public eduction? It’s the states and localities that control 95% of the decisions, and the money, for public schools–not Washington. And while most people can name their senator or congressmen, most cannot name their state senators or assemblymen. They have far less idea of what’s going on in their state capitals than they do about Congress.

     The only freedom states fight for is corporate freedom–the Chamber of Commerce is well represented by state governments. (State officials are much cheaper to buy and you don’t have a national press exposing their cozy little deals.) Otherwise, “States Rights!” has been the rallying cry of the most vile movements in American history. One’s rights shouldn’t vary depending on which exit you take off the freeway on a cross-country trip. Trampling on States Rights is a good thing when the states are so busy trampling on the rights of their citizens. We are one sovereign country and states are part of that union–they are not sovereign. You may remember we fought a war over that issue and the Union won. Heaven save us from the tyranny of the states.



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