States' rights? We once heard those words mainly from demagogues. "States' rights" became the watchword justifying a
right to charge poll taxes, a right to educate only certain children – even an occasional right to administer justice
from the limb of a large tree.
States' rights was then an artful dodge, a way to perpetuate the inequalities that took our forebears to war in 1861.
Today, many Californians may think the question of states' rights merits a second look. Beset by the nation's most dangerous
air pollution, they might wonder why 35 million of us here on the West Coast must cede control of the problem to conniving
lobbyists and lawmakers thousands of miles away.
It is not an idle threat. Congress at this moment seems caving in to an assault on our state air quality standards. It
comes from a well-financed industrial front stretching from the automakers of Detroit to lawn mower manufacturers in Missouri.
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