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Humboldt County Cities Restrict Military

Publication Date: 
April 26, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
Mattew B. Stannard

Senior Lecturer in Law Allen S. Weiner is quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle in a story about laws approved by voters in Arcata, Calif., and Eureka, Calif., to prevent military recruiting of people under the age of 18. The federal government is seeking to have the laws overturned. The San Francisco Chronicle writes:

This time the federal government isn't shrugging. A court hearing is scheduled in Oakland on June 9 on the government's demand that the cities' laws be overturned for seeking powers constitutionally granted to the federal government.


"It touches on a couple of core issues that really relate to the foundation of government," said Allen Weiner, a senior lecturer at Stanford Law School. "The questions of what areas belong to the federal government, and what areas belong to the state."


"The federal government is going to win. If you look at the law it seems like almost a no-brainer," said Weiner, the Stanford Law School lecturer, who is not connected to the suit.

The supremacy clause placing certain powers - including regulating the military - in federal hands is well established, Weiner said, and generally trumps the right to privacy being claimed by the cities.

The cities are also claiming that the United States is party to international treaties prohibiting the recruitment of children under 17 - which they argue include activities such as talking about the benefits of military service.

The treaties, the cities argue, hold equal standing to the supremacy clause, an argument Weiner called novel.

"If they were to have a chance, that would be the one place they had a chance," he said. But, he added, it is likely the court will define "recruiting" as not simply a matter of discussing the benefits of military service, but as a matter of actually signing someone up to serve in the armed forces.