Thursday, October 22, 2009

Has Steny Hoyer abjured his oath of office?

I caught a bit of Jim Vicevich's radio show this morning. He seemed perturbed by, among other things, this interview with the House Majority Leader. Here, Hoyer

said that the individual health insurance mandates included in every health reform bill, which require Americans to have insurance, were “like paying taxes.” He added that Congress has “broad authority” to force Americans to purchase other things as well, so long as it was trying to promote “the general welfare.”
This seems to me to be a willful misreading of the General Welfare clause. Vicevich's law prof contributor SoundOffSister thinks so too.

I am also concerned, and here's where the oath of office comes in, by this part of the interview: also asked Hoyer if there is a limit to what Congress can mandate that Americans purchase and whether there is anything that specifically could not be mandated to purchase. Hoyer said that eventually the Supreme Court would find a limit to Congress’ power, adding that mandates that unfairly favored one person or company over another would obviously be unconstitutional.

“I’m sure the [Supreme] Court will find a limit,” Hoyer said. “For instance, if we mandated that you buy General Motors’ automobiles, I believe that would be far beyond our constitutional responsibility and indeed would violate the Due Process Clause as well – in terms of equal treatment to automobile manufacturers.”
Do you see what he did there? He is assigning the Supreme Court to review the Constitutionality of all legislation. He is saying, in effect, that Congress can go ahead and pass anything at all, without concern about the Constitution, because the Supreme Court will find the limits. He is asking the Supreme Court to act as a review board.

The Representatives' Oath of Office:
"I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."
It's not, "I'll write any laws I like, and if I go too far, the Supreme Court will stop me." Members of Congress have a duty to consider the Constitutionality of legislation before they propose it, never mind vote on it.

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