A federal death penalty for killing cops?

A proposal floating around that the federal government should mandate the death penalty for cop killers is a fundamentally anti-conservative idea, attacking conservative principles on multiple levels. Conservatives need to categorically reject this idea in the interest of preserving our Constitution.

First of all, a mandatory federal death penalty for cop killers embraces Leftist “hate crime” logic. Most of our police officers are good, dedicated public servants but their lives are not intrinsically more valuable than the lives of everyone else. Just as “hate crime” laws make certain victims more valuable than others, a mandatory death penalty for cop killers gives police special legal status not available to anyone else.

Even if this was a good idea, it is a terrible idea for the federal government. This proposal is yet another dramatic expansion of federal power at the expense of state sovereignty. The federal government has no constitutional authority to be regulating crimes committed on the local level. That is up to the state legislatures. If we are truly committed to devolving federal power to the states, then we cannot support policies that expand federal power, even if those policies support an alleged “law and order” agenda.

Furthermore, even if the Constitution granted the federal government the authority to regulate local crime, that would have to be a law passed by the U.S. Congress. The President would be radically exceeding his authority by signing an executive order mandating the death penalty for police officers. The President cannot write and pass legislation by himself. Conservatives who decry President Obama’s executive orders cannot turn around and support an executive order like this and maintain credibility.

As conservatives, we need to maintain our conservative principles and not be blown about by the winds of populism. This means adhering to the rule of law and the wise limits on federal power in our Constitution. These limits exist for a reason, because our founding fathers recognized that the federal government will always be trying to expand its own power. That is the road to tyranny.

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