How To Fight The Bureaucratic State

Is there anything more clear in the Constitution than the fact that “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States”? Nevertheless, there are currently about 23,000 pages of federal laws passed by Congress and almost 80,000 pages of regulations by executive bureaucracies.

Until recently, no one seemed to care. But in 2010, House Republicans appealed to the rising Tea Party movement by pledging to “require congressional approval of any new federal regulation that has an annual cost to our economy of $100 million or more.” In 2011, Rep. Geoff Davis introduced just such a bill; the “Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny” (REINS) Act passed the House with the support of all 237 Republicans, and four Democrats. But President Barack Obama pledged to veto it, and a similar bill sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul died in the Democratic Senate.

Congress, of course, has always been able to override bureaucratic rules even without REINS. However, as the Heritage Foundation’s James Gattuso has noted, the process is cumbersome. To try and address this, Congress adopted “expedited resolutions of disapproval” in 1996, to encourage up-or-down votes to reverse counterproductive bureaucratic regulations. Since that time, however, Congressional reluctance to override the president and the politicians’ fears of taking responsibility for controversial regulatory acts has resulted in only one such disapproval passing Congress, allowing all other rules to go into effect. REINS is aimed at forcing legislative responsibility by requiring every rule with a large economic impact to obtain specific approval from each house, without which the regulation would never go into effect.

With newfound Republican control of the Senate following the 2014 elections, there has been a renewed interest in passing such a bill. Of course, President Obama would still veto it; and Democrats will make it very difficult to corral the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. With this solution stymied, top regulatory expert Wayne Crews proposes creating a bipartisan commission to identify regulations that must be voted upon by Congress to remain in effect. Even that has met substantial opposition, including from some frightened Republicans.

Substantive objections to requiring Congressional approval are few and weak. The best that the progressive Center for Effective Government could do was to warn that this would allow Congress to “second-guess agency expertise and science on food safety, worker safety, air pollution, water contamination, and a host of other issues.” But even disregarding the fact that bureaucratic expertise in these areas is often more in the promise than in performance, is not voting on such issues precisely what the Founders expected Congress to do?

As Crews notes, the number of federal regulations has been exploding. “While an utterly imperfect gauge, the number of pages in the Federal Register is probably the most frequently cited measure of regulation’s scope, which unintentionally highlights the abysmal condition of regulatory oversight and measurement. At the end of 2014, the page count stood at 78,978, the fifth highest level in the Register’s history.” He estimates the real cost (mostly hidden in “guidance’ and sotto-voice threats) could be higher than the formal debt of $18 trillion.

In an important Frazer Institute essay published in What America’s Decline in Economic Freedom Means for Entrepreneurship and Prosperity, Crews notes the baleful results:

An astounding 92 million Americans are not working, positioning labor-force participation at a 36 year low, with nearly 12 million having dropped out during the Obama administration. Data point to high debt per capita, and to the highest part-time and temporary-job creation rates in contrast to full-time career positions. A popular blog laments the “slow death of American entrepreneurship.” Headlines tell painful tales, like that of January 2015 in Investor’s Business Daily reporting on businesses dying faster than they’re being created, a circumstance the Washington Post had noted in 2014. Likewise, a Brookings study on small business formation noted declining rates, as did a Wall Street Journal report on reduced business ownership rates among the young. One recruiter described to the Wall Street Journal how regulations undermine employment, while others point to an inverse correlation between regulation and innovation.

The World Economic Forum’s “burden of government regulation” places the U.S. the 87th most onerous of 144 nations globally on complying with administrative regulations on business.

Indeed, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has recently questioned the entire logic and wisdom of regulatory delegation. First, in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers, he asked whether the Court’s precedent in Seminole Rock, requiring judicial deference to executive interpretation of regulations, improperly “represents a transfer of judicial power to the Executive Branch.” He says that decision “precludes judges from independently determining” the meaning of laws and unfairly favors the executive against the legislative branch in interpreting the law.

In Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads, Thomas even demanded judicial review of the Court’s whole existing standard, which delegates rulemaking to the executive as long as there is an “intelligible principle” in the law to guide the executive. Thomas argues, to the contrary, that that principle has become “boundless” today, undermining the original constitutional understanding of legislative power.

Pretty much everyone knows the regulatory system is broken and probably unconstitutionally so; but nothing ever changes. The executive loves to boss folks around, Congress is afraid to act, and the courts are so isolated they actually think the regulators know what they are doing.

Just in time to prevent despair, however, the nation’s most inventive social scientist, Charles Murray, has written another ground-breaking book, mischievously titled By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission. Murray concludes that the government is incapable of changing its ingrained irresponsibility, so he suggests that reform should be initiated by the people themselves.

Murray starts with the fact that there are so many federal regulations on so many daily behaviors that it is impossible for the regulators to enforce them. The traffic police can issue tickets on rural roads, but they cannot enforce reasonably-over-the-speed-limit driving on crowded highways. It is the same with regulators. They can only effectively police when few disregard the rules. They can then come down good and hard on them. Most settle without a trial, knowing that bureaucratic courts are rigged against them.

Murray would create a Madison Fund named for the father of the Constitution to provide legal assistance to the public, which is encouraged to simply ignore the screwiest regulations. If Americans refused to obey irrational regulations and were backed by an insurance-like fund that would provide legal support to, and publicity for, those unreasonably harassed, regulators themselves would soon learn not to enforce indefensible rules.

Murray believes it would only take a few wealthy contributors to get the Fund established, and that trade associations might get into the business too. Congress might even find enough courage to act constitutionally, if enough people get involved. There are many devils in the details, but sign me up anyway.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Supreme Court Makes A Major Gun Ruling That Will Have The NRA Cheering

The National Rifle Association is publicly supporting the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent unanimous decision to allow convicted felons to attempt to sell any firearms taken by law enforcement. The decision came in response to a case involving former U.S. Border Patrol agent Tony Henderson, whose 19 guns were confiscated by the FBI upon his arrest on drug charges.

Following his guilty plea, Henderson was a felon prohibited from possessing firearms; however, he did not want to simply lose the roughly $3,500 his gun collection was worth. He petitioned a lower court in an effort to allow a third party to take possession of the guns and attempt to sell them on his behalf. That effort was unsuccessful at every stage of appeal up to the Supreme Court level.

The NRA had a vested interest in the case and publicly advocated on behalf of Henderson’s cause.

According to Associated Press reporter Sam Hananel, the pro-gun organization “argued that the government’s attempt to prohibit any sale or transfer prevents law-abiding citizens who want to buy the guns from doing so.”

Though certain aspects of the case warranted clarification, the panel ultimately agreed that convicted felons should be permitted to attempt selling property confiscated by authorities.

Associate Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the decision that this change is in no way an invitation for a felon to bypass existing law “by arranging a sham transfer that leaves him in effective control of his guns.”

Should individuals convicted of a felony be able to try to sell guns they owned prior to their conviction? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Hillary Demands Censorship Of Her Critics

Hillary Clinton, taking a lead from socialist Bernie Sanders, has declared that if elected president, she will not appoint a nominee to the Supreme Court unless that person promises to overturn a Supreme Court case that allowed criticism of one Hillary Clinton.

The Citizens United case has become the bene noir of liberal politics. The case was about a citizens group that planned to release a movie during the height of the 2008 presidential campaign about Mrs. Clinton. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) said they could not. The Supreme Court, by the narrowest of margins, said they could.

At issue was the ill-convinced McCain-Feingold law that made it a felony offense punishable by up to five years in prison to broadcast the movie or pay for advertising promoting sales of the movie during the 2008 election cycle solely because of its political content. During the oral arguments before the Supreme Court, Justice Alito asked a simple question:  Could the government ban books if the content of the book was designed to promote a candidate? The Deputy Solicitor General replied: ‘Yes.’

In what should have been a unanimous decision, the court overturned the government’s effort to censor the movie, with the liberal wing of the court standing with the government in favor of restrictions on freedom of speech. Since then, the decision has been attacked uniformly by liberal partisans who have even gone so far as to submit a Constitutional Amendment to change the First Amendment for the first time in American history.

Now, Hillary has entered the fray. She has declared that any person she suggests for the Supreme Court will have to pass the Citizens United litmus test. In short, that nominee will pledge to allow the government to bar criticism of the President of the United States. Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Scalia Defends The Constitution, Questions The 17th Amendment

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reaffirmed his commitment to defending the Constitution while speaking to the Federalist Society in his home state of New Jersey on Friday.

Scalia, the preeminent conservative firebrand of the court, told the audience it is the structure of the government under the Constitution and not the liberties guaranteed under the Bill of Rights that makes us free.

As reported by The Daily Signal: “Every tin horn dictator in the world today, every president for life, has a Bill of Rights,” said Scalia, author of the 2012 book Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. “That’s not what makes us free; if it did, you would rather live in Zimbabwe. But you wouldn’t want to live in most countries in the world that have a Bill of Rights. What has made us free is our Constitution. Think of the word ‘constitution’; it means structure.”

Congress passed the first ten amendments to the Constitution, which became known as the Bill of Rights, during the opening months of its first session in 1789, largely following those proposed by the “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison. They were ratified by the states and became the law of the land in 1791.

Scalia argued that without the division of power created by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, which guarantees freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms, protection against unlawful search and seizures, and trial by jury of one’s peers among other rights, would just be paper promises with no mechanism to enforce them.

“The genius of the American constitutional system is the dispersal of power,” he said. “Once power is centralized in one person, or one part [of government], a Bill of Rights is just words on paper.”

Scalia stands on firm ground with his observation. James Madison wrote in Federalist 51 that the best bulwark against government tyranny is structuring a system where “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”

He observed: “In…the republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments [federal and state], and then the portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate departments [legislative, executive, judicial]. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.”

Scalia noted that the most profound departure from the dispersal-of-power structure established under the Constitution was passage of the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, which changed the method of the election of U.S. senators to the popular vote rather than by the state legislatures.

The Founders intended the House of Representatives to be the “people’s house” with elections every two years, while senators served for six year terms–their constituency being the state legislature. This ensured that senators would have no incentive to trample on the state government’s authority through federal action.

The Constitution created a federal government with certain enumerated powers, leaving all the remaining authority to the states and the people. Scalia and many other critics believe the federal government has usurped broad authority in powers left primarily to the states.

“What a difference that makes,” Scalia said. “When you have a bill that says states will not receive federal highway funds unless they raise the drinking age to 21, that bill would not pass. The states that had lower drinking ages would tell their senators, ‘You vote for that and you are out of there.’”

Repeal of the 17th Amendment is one of the proposals in radio talk show host Mark Levin’s bestselling book Liberty Amendments.

Regarding interpretation of the Constitution overall, Justice Scalia is an originalist. In other words, he believes that it is not up to courts to re-interpret the nation’s governing document, but follow what the Founders’ intended. If the Constitution or laws generally need revision, it is up to the legislative branch to do so. “When we read Shakespeare, we have a glossary. We don’t think the words have changed there, so why do we think they have changed in the Constitution?” the justice has told audiences in the past.

Justice Scalia is currently the longest serving member on the Supreme Court, having been appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986. Anthony Kennedy is the only other Reagan appointee still serving on the high bench.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

A Court Decision Is No Law At All

All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.”  – Marbury v Madison 1803.

Repugnant – distasteful, offensive, disgusting. Contradictory, incompatible, inconsistent.

Null – without value, effect, consequence, or significance.

Void –  having no legal force or effect;  not legally binding or enforceable; useless, ineffectual, vain.

Therefore, all laws inconsistent with the Constitution are without value or effect and have no legal force or effect and are useless, ineffectual, and unenforceable.

Or, as Saint Augustine so aptly warned us, “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Let me ask you a question: If the government passed a law saying that parents had the right to kill their three-year-old sons, would that be a valid, just law? Would we be duty-bound to follow it?

If the government passed a law that said that workers were entitled to keep 10% of what they earned and that the rest was to be “withheld” by your employer and given to the government, would it be a valid law? What if they said you could keep 70% and the government got the rest? Where do we draw the line?

What if the “court” rules that a man had the legal right to marry his favorite animal? What if they told us that we could marry as many different species as we wanted? What if they told us that sex with 10-year-olds was “legal” and, in fact, some scumbag down the road had the right to “marry” your 10-year-old 5th grader without your approval? What if they declared that school principals were even allowed to conduct the ceremonies during school hours? Would that make it right?

Did you know that a “decision” or “opinion” by a court is not law? Congress makes laws. Courts render opinions. Opinions are…well…opinions. Judges give their opinions of what they think the law says.

For instance, the recent Obamacare “decision” from the Supreme Court was supported by five justices, while four justices had a dissenting “opinion.” How can an opinion be enforceable–especially an “opinion” so equally divided and strongly opposed?

In Alabama, 81% of the people voted that marriage is between one man and one woman. How can the “opinion” of five terrorists in black robes in Washington carry more weight than the “opinion” of millions of Alabama voters?

President Andrew Jackson, in a shot across the bow regarding a Supreme Court ruling in 1832, famously said: “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” President Jackson ignored the decision that the Supreme Court handed down.

Sorry, I know that I am all over the place with this communication–so let me try to bring it together.

The United States is veering aimlessly off course because we have lost control of our government. This has happened partly because we have ceded to the courts lawmaking powers that they were simply not intended to possess.

A COURT DECISION IS NOT A LAW!! Do you understand that? Roe v Wade is NOT the law of the land. Roe v Wade was an OPINION handed down by judges. Judges and courts do not make laws, but rather merely render opinions.

Did you know that the Supreme Court once rendered the opinion that black men were inferior to whites? Did you know that the Supreme Court once ruled that women had no legal right to vote? Did you know that as recently as 1986, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no right to homosexual sodomy?

Friends, courts only offer opinions. Opinions can change when judges change. The law cannot be changed by a “judge.” If that were the case, our “laws” would be as constantly changing as the “judges” are.

If “judges” ruled that sodomy was illegal in 1986, how did sodomy become “legal” today? Did the law change, or did the “opinions” of the “judges” change?

Here is my point: All the hubbub over homosexual marriage is a cleverly-designed smoke screen. Who cares what the Supreme Court says? They are merely rendering their “opinion.” The people of Alabama and 30 other states have already spoken on this issue. No court “opinion” can nullify the vote of the people. Did anyone vote to give Kagan, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg the power to change the institution of marriage? I don’t think so, Tim!

Who do they think they are? No wait…who do WE think they are?  Do you REALLY believe that the opinions of five political hacks on the Supreme Court trump the will of 81% of the citizens in Alabama? I think not. At some point, this is gonna get ugly…and I believe we are nearing that point.

The right to get “married” based solely on who one chooses to copulate with is one of the most short-sighted “opinions” in the history of the world. Liberty is not licentiousness. You have no God-given right to do that which is wrong.

Homosexual marriage is not now, nor will it ever be, “legal” in America. You know it, I know it, and heck, even the homosexuals know it. They don’t want to get married…they just want to destroy marriage.

At some point, if we are to remain free, we are going to have to cast off the chains of government. That’s what our forefathers did. That is what they told us we would have to do.

Jefferson told us “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”  What do you suppose he meant by that?

“Are you proposing violence, Coach Dave?” I hear you asking. Of course not. What a foolish assumption to make. I am, however, proposing resolute, peaceful resistance. I am proposing open defiance against the tyrannical arm of government. I am proposing that Christians obey God rather than man.

Metaphorically speaking, Montgomery, Alabama, will be the Gettysburg of Gay Marriage after the Supreme Court hands down their tyrannical “opinion” in defiance of the will of the people of Alabama and in direct conflict with the Supreme Court Justice of the Universe.

The question is, what will the people of America do? Will they obediently acquiesce to the un-Constitutional edicts of the homsexualists on the Supreme Court? Or will they, as their forefathers did, stand in open defiance to a tyrannical, over-reaching, amoral Federal Government?

I am reminded of a monument that you will find commemorating what took place at Lexington, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775. Carved into stone are these immortal words of Captain John Parker, the lead elder at the assembly of Pastor Jonas Clark, who ordered the men from his congregation to rise and resist the Redcoats:

“Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

Not one of our key “cultural” issues has ever been changed by a vote of the people. Abortion, marriage, prayer in schools, sodomy laws, free speech…they’ve all been “changed” by “court opinions.”

In summary, courts offer opinions. Legislatures and we the people make the laws. Supreme Court decisions are not laws—they simply tell us that they are.

Defy them! Nullify them! Tell the Supreme Court to go pound sand!

 

Learn more about your Constitution with Coach Dave and the Institute on the Constitution and receive your free gift.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth