Congress regulates toilets. It regulates lightbulbs. It regulates dishwashers. It regulates showerheads, and it even regulates the living conditions for the two-inch pupfish that calls Tucson, Ariz., home.
No serious political observer would ever suggest that that’s what John Adams and crew had in mind when they set up America’s constitutional republic—a government so large that it sends out edicts mandating the removal of phosphates from dishwasher detergent.
“The question of ‘Is this constitutional?’ has become synonymous with the question, ‘Will the Supreme Court tolerate this?’ ” Sen. Mike Lee told HUMAN EVENTS. “With the government, it’s imperative that we always ask that question [of constitutionality], especially with the federal government, because as our Founding Fathers understood,” continued Lee, “whenever government expands, it does so at the expense of our individual liberty.”
But that’s what we have today—a government expanding at the expense of individual liberty. So what went wrong?
For the first 130 years of the republic, Congress adhered strictly to the principle that the federal government has limited powers, charged with overseeing such items as national defense and regulating trades between the states and foreign nations. That all began to change during the New Deal era when FDR forced the Supreme Court to adopt a more expansive view of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
“The Court said, in essence, any activity that when measured in the aggregate, when replicated across every state, substantially affects interstate commerce, and is subject to regulation by Congress,” explained the freshman senator from Utah. “When it’s translated into common everyday English, it basically means Congress can regulate pretty much anything it wants.”
Lee told HUMAN EVENTS that the first step toward constitutional fidelity is to limit “the pot of money of which Congress has access to every year.”
Sounds great, but how does the country return to its roots when Democrats, and their allies, respond to budgetary reforms and spending cuts by referring to conservatives as “terrorists,” “barbarians” and “sons of bitches?”
“You have to remember that any political party is only as powerful as its ideas are compelling and resonate with voters,” said Lee, whose first book, The Freedom Agenda, has been released. “Those ideas are not the ideas that the voters in America are likely to view as powerful, as capable of transforming America into what it needs to become, of healing our economy and protecting our liberty.”