The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
This amendment is fundamental to the notion that federal powers should be limited to those areas that are necessary for the cohesive functioning of a national government, such as a national military, interstate commerce, international relations and so forth. More mundane laws should be left up to the individual state governments, which are more in tune with the unique needs of their citizens. Government that is close to its constituents is more responsive to the needs of the citizens.
So it was disappointing to see President Donald Trump sign a new federal law against animal cruelty. This is precisely the type of law that should be reserved for the states. Indeed, every state in the union has laws against animal cruelty. The president should have vetoed this bill because it violates the letter and spirit of the 10th Amendment.
Of course, such a veto would have enraged animal rights activists, a bloc of voters no party wants to alienate. It would have taken fortitude and leadership to explain why a good cause does not need to be written into federal law. Unfortunately, the president and members of Congress are more intent on winning votes than being good stewards of the Constitution. With all the legitimate federal laws that need enforcing, do we really want federal prosecutors and judges deciding cases about pets and wildlife? This is a matter much better handled by our local courts, judges and law enforcement personnel.