Latest from Professor Darel Paul:

The California roadmap is the latest in a long line of policies practically and symbolically distancing the Golden State from the rest of the country. California has long been the only state granted the right to maintain its own auto emissions standards. Since 2017 it has prevented state employees from traveling on official business to other states that, in the evaluation of its Attorney General, maintain legal “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” California is a self-declared “sanctuary state” limiting the degree to which state and local law enforcement may cooperate with federal immigration officials. In 2019 it began covering certain illegal immigrants in its state Medicaid program, and this year created a state-based coronavirus relief fund specifically for residents who are in the country unlawfully.

There is no doubt that California is both very peculiar and very large. Yet neither quality lends it the status of a nation, nor does it make California a state in the international legal sense of the term. Nonetheless one day it could become so, and the coronavirus pandemic is creating novel opportunities for California to travel down just such a path.

California has already begun to erase the distinction between resident and citizen. It allows non-citizens (both legal and illegal residents) to vote in some local elections, to serve on state government boards and committees, and to receive state-based coronavirus relief funds. A California with its own immigration policy on top of its own nascent sense of ‘residentship’ would be a California that has taken a real step toward independence. And much like the plurality of English voters now looking at Scotland’s continuing demands for independence, the rest of the United States could be perfectly willing to let such a California go.

I certainly would be. States’ rights forever!

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