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Drones and Right to Privacy / by James E. Miller / August 2nd, 2013

On August 6th, the small town of Deer Trail, Colorado is set to vote on an ordinance that will permit the hunting of unmanned surveillance drones. The author of the ordinance, Phillip Steel, claims the gesture is “symbolic.” In an interview with a local ABC News affiliate, Steel attested that he does “not believe in the idea of a surveillance society.” The Florida Legislature recently passed a law barring federal government drones from “gathering evidence or other information” on citizens of the state. A handful of other American states are pursuing measures to limit the spying operations of Uncle Sam’s unmanned aerial vehicles.

The pushback against Washington’s snoop activities is a nice development. It’s unfortunate that these state laws and local ordinances will not amount to anything significant. The federal government is the divine master of what was once known as the individual states. Federalism – the idea that sovereignty is shared between hierarchical governing bodies under one umbrella of monopoly authority – is a long-dead concept of American lore. The states have been subservient to a national Leviathan since the War for Southern Independence. If the Constitution was supposed to balance the powers between state legislatures and Congress, it has been a miserable failure. Like pigs at the trough, the “laboratories of democracy” lined up to feed on an endless stream of Washington money that came with strings implicitly attached.


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