Government “encockroaching” on sovereignty

Interposition by BWLIllustration by BWL

One year for the Honolulu District Speech Festival, my then 9-year old son chose to recite part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.

There is a line in King’s speech that reads: “I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of ‘interposition’ and ‘nullification’ — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

My son didn’t know what “interposition” meant, so I asked him to look it up. We both learned that “interposition” is the doctrine that an individual state of the United States may oppose any federal action it believes encroaches on its sovereignty, according to

Reading it aloud, my son stumbled over the word “encroaches” and read it as “encockroaches” on its sovereignty.” I immediately had an image of lawmakers at a table facing off against a giant cockroach. It was funny and a little horrifying, so I asked my son to draw a picture of it.

“Encockroaches” could be a real word. It conjures up a place – or a government – overrun with cockroaches. Maybe the cockroaches are bureaucracy or overspending or even political correctness.

Hawaii may not have the history of slavery that parts of the United States does, but Hawaii has lived through internment. We have all faced prejudice at times or struggle with stereotypes. We all have to clean our houses to get rid of cockroaches. And none of us are immune to the threat of government over-reach.

Do you think that the United States has the right balance of federal power and state sovereignty? What about the balance between state sovereignty and individual rights?

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