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February 19, 2009

The Bizarro World of the U.S. Constitution

Vince Leibowitz, who runs the left-wing Texas politics website Capitol Annex, writes for Pegasus News:

A bizarre House Concurrent Resolution filed Tuesday by three members of the Texas House of Representatives would have the state claim “sovereignty” under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution over every power not specifically authorized the federal government in the U.S. Constitution and demands that Congress repeal any law requiring “states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.”

Although the resolution, HCR 50, has no force of law whatsoever and, if passed, amounts to no more than an toothless demand made of congress on fancy paper sent by the Secretary of State, it could send the lower chamber of the legislature into a dizzying turmoil were it to ever hit the floor.

I can understand why Mr. Leibowitz considers the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to be bizarre. Think about it: in all of your years in grade school (especially if you went to public schools) and college, how many times did you ever hear the Tenth Amendment even mentioned, much less explained?

Many areas of the Constitution are no-go zones nowadays. The Tenth Amendment has long been walled off and hermetically sealed in some sub-basement of one of those zones.

The Texas resolution is little more than a symbolic protest of the fact that the federal government has essentially demolished a great number of the meaningful constitutional limits on its power. Once free of those limits, the federal tentacles have spread into just about every aspect of life in this country -- such as governance, commerce, health care, and even our choices about how we spend our personal time. This is evidenced by Leibowitz' sample list of federal programs that would be threatened if Congress went bizarre itself and submitted to the demands of HCR 50.

The limits of the Tenth Amendment probably could not be restored without an extremely long, painful and disruptive process of destruction and reconstruction that the citizens of this country -- regardless of political alignment -- have absolutely no stomach for.

I'm sure the sponsors of the HCR 50 know this. Perhaps they are like me, indulging every once in a while in some nostalgia about an America that is gone forever.

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