Constitution in exile

Points of Agreement and Reinforcement

Scott Lincicome, Don Boudreaux, and Mark Perry continue their stalwart defense of free trade (latest entries here, here, and here). The controversy revolves around the notion prevalent in “liberal” circles that exports are “good” and imports are “bad.” This is an old view, which Henry Hazlitt addressed in Economics in One Lesson:

(From the 1952 edition. Originally published in 1946).

I couldn’t agree more with Lincicome, Boudreaux, Perry, and Hazlitt — as you will see if you go here, here, and here.

John Goodman keeps tabs on the abomination known as Obamacare. His many post-enactment observations about Obamacare include these:

Docs Declare “No Confidence” in AMA, Exercise as Anger Management, and the Upcoming Nursing Shortage
Doctors are Leaving Medicare
Who is Going to Provide the Extra Care?
Selling Health Reform to the Victims
The Coming Doctor Shortage
Victims of Health Care Reform

None of this comes as a surprise to me. I warned against Obamacare in several pre-enactment posts:

Rationing and Health Care
The Perils of Nannyism: The Case of Obamacare
More about the Perils of Obamacare
Health-Care Reform: The Short of It

Goodman also offers a tantalizing post about the idea of testing public policies before they are fully implemented. The idea of testing public policies is one of the arguments for true federalism, where the central government has a hands-off policy on economic and social matters (but not civil rights). Only true federalism — which this nation enjoyed (more or less) until the subversion of the Commerce Clause by the Interstate Commerce Act — will dispel the “anger” toward the central government that deeply, and justly, animates a large number of Americans.

Big-government advocate Linda Greenhouse now opposes broadly worded delegations of power to subordinate authorities, because the broadly worded power, in the present instance, would

authoriz[e] the secretary of Homeland Security to “waive all legal requirements” that the secretary, in his or her “sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads [comprising the border fence project].”

The writer of the quoted article notes the irony in Greenhouse’s present position. It puts her on the side of Judge Douglas Ginsburg, who argued against broad delegations of congressional authority in “Delegation Running Riot” (Regulation, 1995, no. 1), where he coined the term “the Constitution-in-exile”:

So for 60 years the nondelegation doctrine has existed only as part of the Constitution-in-exile, along with the doctrines of enumerated powers, unconstitutional conditions, and substantive due process, and their textual cousins, the Necessary and Proper, Contracts, Takings, and Commerce Clauses. The memory of these ancient exiles, banished for standing in opposition to unlimited government, is kept alive by a few scholars who labor on in the hope of a restoration, a second coming of the Constitution of liberty-even if perhaps not in their own lifetimes.

All of which reminds me of an old post of mine about the Constitution in exile.