Intermarkets' Privacy Policy
Support
Nerds Make Better Lovers. [Dave at Garfield Ridge] | Main | Mr. Therapist Notices Stuff, Too [The Therapist]
June 10, 2005

Do You Hate The Commerce Clause? [Dave at Garfield Ridge]

If you consider yourself either conservative or libertarian, the Commerce Clause keeps you up at night. The recent Supreme Court decision Gonzales vs. Raich-- you know, the medical ganja one-- was decided on account of that most infernal of jurisprudential reasons, the Commerce Clause.

Friend of the blogosphere Sobekpundit recently had two excellent posts covering the Commerce Clause, both as it applied in Gonzales vs. Raich, as well as the 70+ year history of its abuse.

The problem with the Commerce Clause stems from its convenient flexibility. Need a law to prevent racial discrimination? Rely on the Commerce Clause. Need a law to regulate gun ownership? Rely on the Commerce Clause. Need a law to prevent medical marijuana? Rely on the Commerce Clause.

Unfortunately, using the Commerce Clause as the tool of constitutional reform is like using your butter knife as a screwdriver. It may work in a pinch, but eventually it ruins both your knife AND your screws.

Whenever conservatives have criticized this legal kluge, liberals reply with hysterical reproach, using conservative opposition to the legal mechanism as evidence of conservative opposition to the intended reform. Thus, criticism of the use of the Commerce Clause to justify 1960s civil rights legislation is repeatedly confused with criticism of the purposes of said legislation; a handy excuse for liberals to call conservatives racist.

The truth is that any conservative could highlight a number of constitutional provisions that would better apply to this situation without invoking the Commerce Clause (Section 1 of the 14th Amendment should have been sufficient for civil rights cases, although granted, it says nothing about *private* discrimination). Because, as has proven the case, use of the Commerce Clause has spiraled out of control, far beyond whatever rationale the Founders could possibly have intended for this very basic rule.

Of course, the near-infinite flexibility of the Commerce Clause as it is presently interpreted serves activist liberals very well, because it provides the fundamental principle for the "living Constitution." If anything can be read into the text of the Constitution, then the Constitution does not exist. This may be expedient for the laws that we can all agree are desirable-- such as basic civil rights legislation-- but such an interpretation eviscerates the protection that we require from the laws that everyone but an activist judge can agree is undesirable.

I find myself increasingly wondering-- if I could rewrite the U.S. Constitution today, what would I add? What would I delete? What would I clarify, and what would I obfuscate?

What would *you* do?

---
UPDATE: In Friday's Washington Post ("free" registration required; jerks), Charles Krauthammer wrote about the judicial philosophy of Justice Thomas, including a discussion of the Commerce Clause.

Oh, and Krauthammer writes about it ten times more eloquently than I do. Dammit.


digg this
posted by Ace at 08:50 PM

| Access Comments




Recent Comments
Bill D. Cat: "Strange things are afoot at the HQ . ..."

Donna and V.: "Since when have leftists been unwilling to sacrifi ..."

Misanthropic Humanitarian : "69 40 Ham is racist. Posted by: wooga at Sept ..."

doug ( who could show you some amazing Poloroids ): "abuse is usually local / familiar.  Most peop ..."

wheatie: "65 [i]Looks like our choices will be communism or ..."

ThunderB: "When you hear council worker think social worker a ..."

garrett: "[I]Around $500 million and it's been estimated tha ..."

Mr. Terrific: "majority of convicted abusers in Britain are white ..."

Zhytamyr : "24 Justice would be a row of gibbets. With a r ..."

Truck Monkey, as Voiced by Brian Dennehy: "I am proudly islamophobic..... maybe that's not th ..."

Christopher Taylor: "The police destroyed evidence, and council workers ..."

doug ( who could show you some amazing Poloroids ): "not indicting the English; the NYT commenters do t ..."

Recent Entries
Search


MuNuvians
Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
News/Chat
Archives
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64