Federal Red-Lines and Massachusetts’ Relationship to the Federal Government


  • A future Trumplican presidency will likely erode many values Massachusetts citizens hold sacred.
  • Massachusetts citizens should begin debating how they will respond if their core values are threatened by a Trumplican presidency or rulings from our right-wing Supreme Court.


America appears poised to jettison our democracy in 2024 and Massachusetts citizens need to decide how they should respond should the Federal government institute policies which cross our political “red lines.”

Lest anyone think I am being hyperbolic, here is a snippet of articles that have attempted to make Americans aware that our 2.5-century experiment as a representative democracy is very much hanging in the balance:

In light of the above writings, the current composition of the Supreme Court, and reading the current political tea leaves, it is reasonable to conclude that there is a better than even chance Trump or a similar anti-democratic Trumplican will take control of the Presidency in 2024. At that moment, Steve Bannon will instill his army of “shock troops” to permanently and swiftly “…take over the administrative state and deconstruct it.” This will end America’s multicultural, religiously agnostic experiment in representative democracy.

Unfortunately, neither our political leaders nor the mainstream media have responded to these warnings in a manner that would indicate that they are aware of the seriousness of our political crises. These failures are attributable to the sheer number of acute, catastrophic events which must be addressed and the physical and intellectual bandwidth limitations which proscribe the amount of information the public can digest.

As a result, Americans have yet to begin a serious public dialogue about the nature and future of democracy in America.

Given the high probability that the next President of the United States will be an anti-democratic, authoritarian, Trumplican, in the mode of Russia’s President Putin or China’s President Xi, we can expect that the Trumplican government will abandon its support of many values Massachusett citizens hold precious. Should that happen, Massachusetts’ politicians and citizens will need to decide expeditiously if we should attempt to preserve our values by altering our relationship with the Federal government. 

Long before this wolf is at our door, Massachusetts politicians, media, and the public need to debate whether there are “red-lines” which, if crossed by the Federal government, will trigger the Commonwealth to begin reconfiguring its relationship with the Federal Government.

I can envisage many “red-lines.” For example, imagine if the Federal Government or the US Supreme Court: 

  • banned all abortions
  • prohibited Massachusetts from protecting Massachusetts citizens from gun violence
  • banned Massachusetts schools from teaching the history of race relations
  • limited the voting rights of a class of citizens
  • proscribe Massachusetts from mandating the use of masks
  • imposed excessive limits on free speech
  • prohibited Massachusetts from creating an equitable state income tax system
  • proscribed who could run for political office
  • banned Massachusetts from granting “equal rights” to groups which are not covered by Federal equal protection laws
  • banned same sex marriage

Although it is unlikely all of the above would happen quickly, it is not unreasonable to expect that the current Supreme Court or a future Trumplican president would attempt to enact some of the above policies.

Massachusetts needs to unambiguously decide if we will allow a future authoritarian Federal government or the Supreme Court to chip-away at our multicultural, religiously agnostic society; and if we decide we want to continue on our historic path as the beacon for the free world, how should we respond should that dreaded day occur.

We needs to start this difficult conversation long before we need to act and it certainly should be one of the issues addressed in our upcoming gubernatorial campaign. Now is not too soon to start the debate.

Hayward Zwerling


Addendum added 2/28/2024

Since this essay was originally published, several states have ignored or said they may disregard future Supreme Court rulings.  Utah stated they reserve the right to ignore future Court rulings and both Texas and Hawaii have already done so. While a decision to ignore Supreme Court rulings may sound “unacceptable,” America’s politico-judicial system has already irrevocably changed as many politicians, judges and justices have long forsaken America’s historic norms of political and judicial behavior. Rational America must recognize this is the new reality and begin to play by the new politico-judicial rules if we hope to create a better and more equitable America for all.

H. Zwerling 2/28/24


1/6/2022 Added link to President Carter’s article in NY Times

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