The Corner

Newsweek Keeps Digging on the Pledge

Ben Adler responds to my criticisms. He really does not know what he’s talking about.

The Pledge, you’ll recall, requires bills to specify from what constitutional provision Congress derives the authority to legislate in the area. Adler writes,

The problem is that Republicans seem to believe that Democrats will pass unconstitutional legislation when in power and they do not trust the courts to carry out their duty to overturn such laws. Hence, they wish to create some vaguely defined board in Congress with the power to prevent legislation from coming to a vote if this group of (political?) appointees deems it unconstitutional.

The Pledge includes no such provision. It creates no such board. (Look it up yourself.)

[H]ow would [Ponnuru] feel if the country is attacked and President Jeb Bush wants a host of new surveillance powers that his congressional constitution team rejects as a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments?

Again, whatever the wisdom of that proposal, it’s not in the Pledge. Adler continues:

The courts can only be the final arbiter on the constitutionality of legislation once it has been passed. If it can’t get out of Congress because Congress’s internal preapproval judge would not let it come to a vote, then this is—rather curiously for a movement that rails against activist judges who undemocratically make laws—taking power away from elected officials and placing it in the hands of bureaucrats.

Hey, guess what? There’s no “internal preapproval judge” in the Pledge.

Adler also totally botches the discussion of the Pledge’s regulation of insurers. The Pledge requires insurers to offer coverage to people with preexisting conditions if they have prior coverage. As has been explained countless times — including in a post to which my original criticism of Adler linked–this regulation doesn’t yield the insurance death-spiral that a stronger ban would. As I’ve said before, the Pledge’s provision is open to criticism — among other things, it appears on its face merely to replicate pre-Obamacare law. But the criticism Adler makes just ignores the text of the Pledge.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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