South Dakota's Congresswoman Kristi Noem doesn't like the feds intruding in state affairs . . .except when she likes the feds intruding in state affairs. Noem's repeated complaints about Federal agencies and the onerous burdens they sometimes place on South Dakotans probably have some merit and certainly have plenty of popular support. A typical tirade against the EPA's wetlands rules, along with her critique of federal meddling in school lunch programs, both occurring last week, were consistent with her general stand for South Dakota's right and ability to tend to its own business without interference from federal laws and authorities.
Given that her "states' rights" worldview squares with the political currents of this deeply reddened Republican state, I was taken by surprise when I saw her vote against an appropriations measure involving the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) a few days ago. The amendment would have prohibited the DEA from spending money to arrest state-licensed medical marijuana operators and patients, affecting 22 states and the District of Columbia. I haven't found a statement (if one is out there, please post it in the comments here) from Noem explaining her vote against the measure, which seems like a clear line drawn between federal and state sovereignty. As it turned out, Noem cast a losing vote, as 49 Republican reps joined 170 of their Democratic counterparts to strip DEA's power to intrude on state-authorized activities. That makes 49 of her GOP colleagues who voted in favor of states wanting to make and enforce their own laws without interference from the federal government.
To me this is a big win for states' rights, and Noem should explain why she opposed them in this stand-off. If she's making a statement against legalizing marijuana for medical use, Noem has accomplished that by basically ceding to the federal government the authority to overstep state regulators and lawmakers on this issue. How that differs from her position on, say, EPA enforcement and oversight when it comes to matters affecting South Dakota landowners in compliance with state laws and long-standing land use procedures is unclear to me. Adding to the confusion over where she stands on clashes between state and federal authorities, Noem also co-sponsored a bill last year (H.R. 3) that would have wrested final approval authority over the Keystone XL pipeline from the President and signed a letter to President Obama urging immediate approval of KXL on the basis of Nebraska Governor Heineman's state-level approval of the pipeline.
This is quite the breach of consistency. I mean, when states want authority over land use measures, school lunches, and, no doubt, other matters, Noem supports the states' rights to do as they see fit--but when it comes to dealing with state-sanctioned marijuana use, she's all for federal intrusion. This is a rather selective approach to state vs. federal jurisdictional conflicts. Noem should explain the discrepancy.