Monday, February 1, 2010

Enumerated Powers Act: A Step in the Right Direction

My attention was recently drawn to some good news. Though it's not the first time it has been proposed, I can't remember seeing such support for the Enumerated Powers Act in the past. Today, the senate version has 22 co-sponsors, while the house version boast 60 co-sponsers of its own. Sadly, it is only Republicans who have thrown their support behind the legislation thus far, but Democrats should remedy this lack of support quickly as S. 1319 and H.R. 450 are a huge step in the right direction.

If you are unfamiliar with the legislation, here is a basic rundown.

The Enumerated Powers Act would require each bill that goes before Congress "to contain a concise explanation of the specific constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act." If an explanation cannot be provided, a point of order is called in which the chamber must acknowledge that constitutional authority could not be found for the proposed legislation.

I see two major benefits of this bill. First, it will cause lawmakers to reevaluate what they think about constitutional authority. They must actually turn to the document in their law-making process and see if their actions are constitutional or not. (A novel, I know!) Second, if they refuse to submit to constitutional law-making, it is brought to the attention of everyone as a point of order is called. Image these words: "The senator would like to propose the follow legislation even though he lacks any constitutional authority to do so."

In essence, unconstitutional bills will be noted as such for the record, the public would be made aware of constitutional infidelity, and the sponsor would be exposed on the chamber floor.

The bill wouldn't stop the passage of unconstitutional bills, but it will expose unconstitutional bills in a way that is currently lacking. Hopefully, this exposure could lead to a lesser volume of unconstitutional proposals.

Of course, the likelihood of the Enumerated Powers Act passing is slim, especially lacking Democrat support. But who knows in the current climate? If one where to say just a little over a year ago that a bill to audit the Federal Reserve would experience massive bipartisan support and make it out of committee, one would be laughed at as a fool. But we now see what has happened with H.R. 1207.

What stands in the way? Our elected officials hate to the constraints of the Constitution, and as we have failed to hold them accountable, they know they can get away with their infidelity to the rule of law.

But, like I said, the times are changing. So lets see if we can get our elected officials to support the Enumerated Powers Act.

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