When it comes to basic constitutional and legal principles, there are very few in the establishment that have even the slightest clue about the relationship between state and federal power. Former New Jersey Governor and EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman fits that bill, and a recent article by Jonathan H. Adler in the Washington Post takes her to task.

The critique concerns statements Whitman made in an op-ed in Politico concerning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s suggestion in an op-ed of his own that states should not cooperate with the EPA on their plan to control greenhouse gas emissions coming from power plants, nor should they implement it themselves.

According to Whitman, McConnell’s suggestion “undermines our government as a whole, as well as our deeply held conviction that the rule of law is the foundation of any stable society.”

This is total bunk, Adler correctly notes, stating the Supreme Court has repeatedly and consistently ruled that states are not bound to enforce federal laws, and the EPA is no exception to this. Furthermore, as former administrator of the EPA, Whitman has no excuse to be ignorant about this. The EPA has attempted to coerce state governments into doing just that numerous times, and failed in court.

Alder, who teaches courses in constitutional, administrative, and environmental law at the Case Western University School of Law, ultimately calls her claim “ludicrous,” but that is putting it very kindly.

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