Another thought after the 60 Minutes piece: if New Paltz and San Francisco cannot offer same-sex marriages, how can Hazelton legislate immigration?

Now, I’m not saying that if one is allowed, the other must be as well. What I am saying is that the US Constitution–both written and understood–gives no autonomy to municipalities and other public corporations. Only the states are recognized, and they determined what autonomy cities and town enjoy.

This point may seem arcane, but it is relevant. Consider that medieval cities had broad leeway to define who was a citizen–indeed, out notion of citizenship descends therefrom (if we believe Guizot). In modern times, some form of municipal sovereignty remains. In France, the cities are more powerful policy makers (and mayors have been an important sources of presidential candidates). In Switzerland, the residents of cities and towns get to vote on who will be allowed permanently into the community, a necessary prerequisite to obtaining Swiss citizenship. (Unfairly, pictures of candidates are posted on the ballot, and “colored” people are denied citizenship more often than Europeans.)

Considering the critical importance of sovereignty and the relationship of the national government to the states, their silence is profound. They saw no need to enshrine municipalities with policy making abilities, especially those reserved for the national government.

So, what gives Hazelton (or Farmers Branch or any other town) the constitutional right to enact legislation that hangs on issues of citizenship and nationality (and I do mean constitutional)?

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