- - Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Democratic liberals have treated the Second, Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution with the respect given to discarded Kleenex over the eight years of the Obama presidency. But California, the bluest of the blue states, has just discovered, of all things, states’ rights. The ghost of Strom Thurmond and his States’ Rights Democrats is apparently alive and well in Sacramento.

The State of California has hired Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general, to save itself from Donald Trump and the fearsome policies it expects from the federal government as directed by his administration. The state’s officials and their constituents earlier applauded Barack Obama’s chipping away at the Constitution, declining to join the coalitions of red states in their successful challenge of the president’s end run around the founding document, to impose extreme environmental regulations, expansion of abortion rights, and making public restrooms sanctuaries for the gender-confused and anyone else who wants to wander in for a peek at the privacy-deprived.

Kevin de Leon, the president pro-tem of the state Senate, and Anthony Rendon, the speaker of the state Assembly, announced last week that the state had retained not only Mr. Holder but a team of lawyers from the Washington law firm Covington and Burling, where Mr. Holder landed when he left government employment.

Mr. Holder is a truly distinguished lawyer, holding the distinction of being the first attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress, for withholding documents about his Operation Fast and Furious, the botched sting of gun dealers by selling marked guns to them. Mr. Holder and his Covington and Burling colleagues were hired to advise the Democratic legislature about how to “resist any attempts to roll back the progress California has made.” Lawyers like to make work for other lawyers, but it’s not clear why the new state attorney general, a Democrat, is not up to the job of protecting the state’s rights.

California, once the most envied state for its glamour, sparkle and prosperity, clearly needs help now in spending money it no longer has. California officials concede that the state faces a “wall of debt” of $26 billion, and when unfunded state and municipal liabilities (pensions, bonds, interfund borrowing, and so forth) are included, the debt surpasses $400 billion.

Mr. Holder has a tough job ahead of him. “We’re talking about workers’ rights, civil rights, voting rights, environmental protections, climate action, protecting children from being separated from their mothers, and massive deportations,” Mr. de Leon, the president pro-tem of the state Senate, says, sharing his laundry list with The Washington Post. Mr. Holder says he’s “honored” that he is to be California’s legal adviser, as a lawyer with a client should be, “as it considers how to respond to potential changes in federal law that could impact California’s residents and policy priorities.”

Tim Clark, the director of the Trump campaign in California, has a different view of the attempt to continue the 2016 presidential campaign. “[California] has most debt, worst roads, failing schools, highest poverty,” he Tweeted. “So what’s the plan? Hire Eric Holder to fight Trump.”

California’s improbable discovery of states’ rights might lead the state’s leaders to look to the example of the several red states that successfully challenged great swaths of President Obama’s attempt to impose his radical-left agenda on everyone. But probably not. California still thinks it’s the promised land, but cold reality has overtaken the promise. The piper wants his pay, and the state, once golden, is broke.

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