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Political Commentary / Political Philosophy

Dianne Feinstein (Democrat Senator from California), during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, told Sotomayor that “Congress has to have the power” to legislate things such as guns, the environment, healthcare, etc. She cited the Constitution’s “commerce clause,” which says that congress can regulate trade between the US and foreign nations, between states and with the native Americans. The clause is often packaged with the “necessary and proper clause” to justify pretty much anything congress wants to do. It is a silly interpretation, since there would be no need for enumerated powers if this is suppose to be a catch-call to give Congress unlimited arbitrary power.

Feinstein stated that since the 30’s the Supreme Court has allowed Congress to legislate at will, but that in the last decade it has begun to restrain Congress’ powers in at least 12 cases. She asked Sotomayor about her views on the clause, and then when she didn’t feel confident with the answer she proceeded to press the importance of Congress’ ability to regulate. Her point was, to paraphrase, “Are you going to let us do what we want to do or are you going to throw that whole ‘limited government’ thing at us?”

This is a person who is putting agenda over justice, and politics over principle. She doesn’t seem to care what the Constitution was trying to do – she only cares whether the branch whose job it is to limit the abuse of power is staffed with people who don’t really care.

There are three branches to our Government. One to make laws, one to execute them, and one to make sure that those laws are not trampling upon the liberties of the states and the people. So the Supreme Court’s essential role is limiting the Federal Government to the enumerated powers listed in the Constitution, which was written down in black and white so that no one could question it – unlike the legal system in the UK where laws are just piled on top of other laws and there are no definitive “guiding principles.”

What good is a Supreme Court if it must bend to the will of fickle and ambitious politicians?

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