Why Did These 12 States Betray Their Own Sovereignty?

Most of us are familiar with Stockholm syndrome, a psychological condition in which hostages develop feelings of solidarity with their captors and negative feelings toward others, such as the police, who are trying to liberate them. Apparently Stockholm syndrome can grip not only individuals but also entire states, or at least their leadership.

A case in point is the amicus brief filed by 12 states and the District of Columbia to argue that they and all other states should be subject to the Obama administration’s unlawful transgender mandate. Shortly after the administration decreed that students of either sex be allowed free access to restrooms, locker rooms, overnight accommodations, and probably sports teams reserved for the other sex, Texas and 10 other states sued for an injunction against implementation of the decree. Buzzfeed reports that in a brief filed in that case, Washington state and 11 others are saying, “Not so fast! We like being dictated to by the feds! And you should too!”

Speaking on behalf of the other hostage states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Vermont), Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson was quoted as saying, “Anyone whose civil rights are threatened need (sic) to have attorneys general standing up for them (sic).” Note that four of these states — Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Mexico — have Republican governors who, if they disapprove of this action of their attorneys general, have managed to keep their objections under wraps.

The hostage states’ brief focuses on the supposed absence of harm from the federal mandate. They argue that claims of potential harm, especially to girls, are speculative (although they might ask Target how that gender-free-for-all thing is working out). But of course, that isn’t the point. The Obama policy could be handed down from Mount Sinai and be the answer to all earthly problems, but the fact remains that the federal government has no right to dictate anything on this or any other education issue. Under the Constitution, the states should be in charge here.

As Buzzfeed reports, most of the hostage states have their own laws or policies that do pretty much what the Obama decree would force them to do. And in fact, any state could probably go that far if its citizens demanded it. But these states aren’t content to pursue their own policies and let other states determine theirs. They seem to have grown so comfortable under their federal yoke that they would oppose their sister states who would help them throw it off, leaving them free to do what they want. Have they lost the ability to stand up and determine their own policies, without direction from the federal government?

In addition to Stockholm syndrome, maybe a couple of other dynamics are in play here. For one thing, obviously, the hostage attorneys general agree with the federal policy being imposed, so they are happy to see it imposed across the nation by hook or by crook. And maybe the attorney general in the hostage state (New Hampshire) that doesn’t already have a radical gender-identity statute sees the federal decree as a means of getting what he can’t get through the democratic process in his own state.

Whatever the motive, this “please, sir, may I have another?” routine from supposedly sovereign states is embarrassing. Citizens in those states should demand better.

Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project.