Gavin Newsom’s Absurd War on Walgreen’s For Following The law
Has there ever been someone who wants to be President of the United States so badly without running more than California Governor Gavin Newsom? There was no one person more disappointed when Joe Biden said he’d run for reelection (he hasn’t officially kicked off a reelection campaign, but his latest budget, a political messaging document if there ever was one, is a sure sign) than Newsom. Over the last six months, Newsom has spent more of his time on Twitter attacking Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott than fulfilling his duties as a leader in his state; he looks and acts like a man who is running for higher office without actually running.
His latest bromide is a silly and absurd attack Walgreens, after the pharmacy chain said it would not sell the abortion drug mifepristone, following receipt of a letter from 21 state attorneys general, saying it would violate the law. Naturally, the quandary for Walgreens comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which returned laws regarding abortion back to the states where it belongs. Everyone knew the issue would get legally messy going from one ridiculous court decision (Roe) back to the state legislatures and it is, and so what? Many laws governing a host of issues exist in one state that don’t exist in another. The sale of mifepristone is no different.
But Gavin Newsom doesn’t see it that way. He said the state would stop doing business with Walgreens who he says, “cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk.” Poetic. Apparently, he is pulling a state contract worth $54 million for its offense, and claiming it is “market leverage.”
No one ever called Newsom a genius, and it’s obvious he is not. Had Walgreens shunned selling mifepristone of their own volition, sure. But that’s not what happened here. Walgreens was merely following the law. That’s not “market leverage” or anything close to it, and as someone who ran a pretty successful business before he turned to politics, Newsom should know better. The government, by default, doesn’t adhere to market principles because it makes the laws that govern the market.
And again, the laws differ in various states. In the great state of New Jersey, I couldn’t get a bottle of vodka at the nearest Walgreens, but I can in Missouri. You can order a bottle Absolut online and pick it up at Walgreens in Missouri. In Virginia, every liquor store is state-owned and operated. Can you imagine Mike Parson declaring war on Walgreens for not selling hard liquor in X states because it is legal in his state? Such a scenario might knee-jerk one into saying, “mifepristone issue is different!” Of course, it is different, and it doesn’t matter. It’s the same principle.
The attorneys general in the 21 states have cited the 1873 Comstock Act that prohibits the mailing of any drug that will “be used or applied for producing abortion.” The Biden administration rejects that interpretation of the law and says it doesn’t apply to mailing abortion drugs when the sender has no reason to believe they will be used unlawfully. That kind of legal wizardry, I imagine, is why Biden thinks he has the authority to appropriate $500 billion in spending by wiping out $10K-$20K in student debt for 40 million people under a squinting reading of the 2003 HEROES Act.
“It is only illegal if what you send through the mail will be used illegally” is quite the take.
Imagine a Republican presidential administration applying that, to say, the mailing of firearms. The laws differ throughout the states (gasp!), but federal law requires someone mailing a gun across state lines to have the gun shipped to someone with a federal firearms license. A person cannot mail a gun directly to their friend in another state, even if both of them satisfy the legal means to purchase, own or possess one. Think of the reaction if the administration said, “Well, we interpret that law differently. If the sender has no reason to believe the gun will get used unlawfully, no biggie.” The explosion of heads across the country by gun control advocates would sound similar to the sonic booms generated by space shuttles after they launched.
The Biden administration’s preposterous interpretation of the law remains secondary to Newsom’s abuse of economic power. Federalism will sometimes result in nationwide businesses having to adjust to how they conduct business in different states, and it happens all the time. For Newsom to seek retribution against Walgreens for merely following the law of another state is infantile and sets a dangerous precedent, much more beyond anything Ron DeSantis did with his foolhardy action against Disney. The only people Newsom will hurt are citizens of California, many of whom rely on Walgreens for various reasons.
But hey, when 500,000 people have fled the state in the last two years, why not make it easier for people to leave, right?