The Corner

“Congress has to start taking greater responsibility”

That happens to be the central point of my column this morning, but I have pulled the quote from my friend Roger Pilon (of Cato), who has a terrific essay in this morning’s WSJ. Roger argues:

Congress has to start taking greater responsibility. Congress must acknowledge honestly that it has not kept faith with the limits the Constitution imposes. It should then stop delegating its legislative powers to executive agencies. Congress should either vote on the sea of regulations the executive branch is promulgating or, far better, rescind or defund those regulations, policies and programs that never should have been promulgated in the first place (rescission may not be possible during the next two years, but defunding is). And of course Congress should undertake no new policies not authorized by the Constitution.

Amen. As previously noted, I’m underwhelmed by the Republican pledge to provide in each bill the constitutional grounding for what Congress is doing — unless and until the GOP explains what it means by constitutional grounding. If Republians mean the Constitution as manipulated by the Supreme Court since the 1930s (a history Roger discusses), then the pledge is meaningless: there is no action Congress could take for which the most mediocre lawyer could not come up with a colorable justification. (See, e.g., this exchange between Sen. Tom Coburn and now-Justice Elena Kagan on whether Congress has the power to enact a law requiring Americans to eat three fruits and three vegetables every day.) But, to borrow from Roger again, if the Republicans mean to demonstrate that any new law is consistent with the “larger structure, aims and principles” of Constitution as originally understood, they they’d really have something.

Roger Pilon’s essay is here (and also cited in NRO’s web briefing).

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