Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Feds vs. the Constitution

An excellent article from The Independent Institute.

The Feds vs. the Constitution

Today all branches of the United States government—legislative, executive, and judicial—disregard the Constitution in order to suit their political objectives and personal preferences, according to Charlotte Twight (Boise State University).

“Most members of Congress now reflexively claim the power to federalize at will almost any aspect of American life, the Constitution notwithstanding,” Twight writes in “Sovereign Impunity,” the cover article in the spring issue of The Independent Review.

Twight begins her analysis by examining four bills passed by Congress—the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act, the alternative minimum tax, and REAL ID legislation—and argues that each was an unconstitutional expansion of the central government’s power at the expense of individual liberty. She then examines President George W. Bush’s unwillingness to veto unconstitutional bills and his controversial use of signing statements.

Lastly, Twight examines three cases in which a narrow majority of the Supreme Court has undermined the First Amendment (FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life), the Fifth Amendment (Kelo v. City of New London), and the Interstate Commerce Clause (Gonzales v. Raich).

Will the erosion of Constitutional checks on government power subside? Twight is not optimistic. “Most people identify with one of the two dominant political parties, neither of which now upholds the limits on national government power prescribed by the Constitution,” she concludes.

“Sovereign Impunity,” by Charlotte Twight (The Independent Review, Spring 2008)
“Limited Government: Ave Atque Vale,” by Charlotte Twight (The Independent Review, Spring 2006)
More by Charlotte Twight
Spring 2008 issue of our quarterly journal, The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy
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Anonymous said...

Kelo was not unconstitutional. It was a state issue and needed to be resolved at the state level with the state constitution.

Actively enforcing federal will on a state issue would have been unconstitutional and abrogating state's rights.

After Kelo, most states, rightly so, changed their Constitutions or laws to strengthen individual property rights.

Jim Fedako said...

Ah, yes, Kelo ... The thorn in the side of fellow libertarians.

I guess it all depends on whether you see the Constitution as a living document or not. And, how you read the 9th and 10th amendments in light of the 14th amendment.

Of course, I could argue that 99% of what the federal government does is unconstitutional, but most folks won't listen to that anymore.