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The Palin Chronicles, Continued

As a few of the commenters on Mike's post noted, what's more disturbing than Sarah Palin's inability to name a second Supreme Court case with which she disagrees is the fact that she's apparently a bit confused over basic citizenship-test type questions about the mechanics of how our system of government works. After affirming her belief in a constitutional right to privacy, she continued:

And I believe that--individual states can handle what the people within the different constituencies in the 50 states would like to see their will ushered in in an issue like that.

No question it's possible to believe that there's a constitutional right to privacy but that Roe was still wrongly decided. But, as Hilzoy points out, Palin's response makes it sound like she's taking a Thomas Jefferson circa 1798 approach to constitutional interpretation: that the states, rather than any branch of the federal government, should pass judgment on questions of federal constitutional law. Now, it would certainly be fun to see a reinvigorated debate in contemporary politics over the merits of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, but I'm not sure it's quite what Palin wants.

There's also this morass of non-sentences from Palin:

I could think of--of any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a vice president, if I'm so privileged to serve, wouldn't be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.

This, again, makes some sense in the narrow context of Roe and other cases that concern constitutional rights. But most cases don't fall into that category, and when it comes to decisions based on statutes or common law, legislators and executives are precisely in a position of "changing those things," as we've seen in legislative attempts at responding to recent decisions like Kelo and Ledbetter. One hopes that Palin understands that distinction, but it sure doesn't sound like she does.

On the plus side, this makes it seem far less likely that Palin's refusal to say whether the vice president is part of the executive branch reflects a sinister plot to perpetuate Cheneyism, as opposed to good old-fashioned ignorance.

--Josh Patashnik