Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It Will Come Back To Bite You In The Ass...

It is tempting to turn a blind eye when politicians stretch and distort the constitution in order to push through a policy or program that you view favorably, but it will eventually come back to bite you in the ass. Historically, progressives have been more inclined to engage in legal sophistry in order to empower the federal government to "pursue the greater good." A case that comes to mind is the 1942 Supreme Court ruling of Wickard v. Filburn, in which a farmer sought to contest the fine levied against him and the order for him to destroy the wheat he had produced in excess of the quota that the FDR Administration had imposed as part of its price control policies. The Supreme Court used an extremely dubious interpretation of the Commerce Clause to uphold the government's actions against the farmer and price controls in general. A recent example is the Obama Administration's use of the Commerce Clause to justify the mandate that Americans purchase health insurance. Keep in mind that the question is not if these policies are beneficial, but if the questionable constitutional interpretations used to support them have opened the door for future abuses of government power.

In the Supreme Court case of Gonzales v. Raich (2005) the dubious interpretation of the Commerce Clause was used to negate a policy that most progressives view favorably: the decriminalization of medical marijuana. This case involved the Federal Government's actions against Angel Raich and Diane Monson for their use of medical marijuana in spite of the fact that their doctors declared under oath that they suffered from chronic pain, illness and allergies to other medications, which necessitated the use of marijuana. By the DEA's own account, actions against both parties was part of a broader effort to break up California's medical marijuana co-ops. Of particular significance is that this occurred in spite of the 1996 passage of Proposition 215 by California voters that legalized the use of medical marijuana. While we can argue about the pros and cons of this initiative, the federal government's argument that growing 6 marijuana plants for personal use constituted inter-state commerce is absurd. The government cited the previously mentioned case of Wickard v. Filburn to support their position, so in effect, the expansion of federal power achieved by the progressive icon FDR came back to bite progressives in the ass.

Hopefully progressives will keep this in mind before they accuse conservatives of being "heartless and greedy" just for questioning the constitutionality of various aspects of Obamacare; not achieving our desired policies is a small price to pay for protecting the people against future abuses of government power.


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