We are a nation founded upon and (allegedly) governed by words. Beginning with – specifically, foundational-ly – the Constitution. Every syllable was by our Founding Fathers debated and carefully crafted. To ensure a limited, enumerated government, maximum freedom for We the People – and a document that clearly, concisely laid out these parameters.
The Constitution is a “living, breathing document” – but with the amendment process as its only respiratory system. If you don’t like it – amend it. Otherwise, it is what it is – it says what it says.
The Constitution established a system that also relies on precise language. The Legislative Branch writes legislation – that must be within government’s Constitutional parameters. Every syllable is debated and carefully crafted. And since we directly elect this Branch’s members, we get to have a direct say in the words meant to lord over us. We get to lobby Congress to redress our grievances – to help shape the words they write.
“We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it” is an unbelievably heinous dereliction of Congressional, Constitutional duty.
When passed, legislation is then sent for signature to the Executive Branch – a President we also elect. If the President signs, the panoply of departments, agencies, commissions and boards then implement it. Though these entities exist in the Executive – they are creations and creatures of the Legislative. They would not exist without law first creating them. They can not do anything unless and until the Legislative with law tells them to do it. And they are bound to adhere to the spirit and the letters of these laws – and to remain within their parameters. The words passed must be the words implemented – no more, no less.
As we’ve seen for decades – and on steroids during the Barack Obama Administration – the huge regulatory apparatus has made rocketing past its limits standard operating procedure. Overreaches, fiats, diktats – the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Health and Human Services (HHS), et cetera ad nauseum. Written words – ignored and eviscerated in favor of ideological impositions.
All of which is why there is a Judicial Branch. The Judicial is in the strict-Constitutional-limits-enforcement business. They are to ensure that the laws written – and the government they create – exist within Constitutional bounds. Justices and judges are unelected to avoid political influence – which only works if they remain unpolitical, within their Constitutional bounds. If they write legislative words rather than merely analyze them – reworking laws into new meanings and mandates – we have (yet more) problems.
In the Supreme Court’s King v Burwell decision, six of its nine Justices green-lit yet another huge Obama Administration overreach. By pretending – and allowing HHS to continue to pretend – that plain words don’t mean plain things.
In the face of clear (ObamaCare) statutory language indicating that federal subsidies are available only for insurance plans purchased through “an Exchange established by the State,” Justice Roberts — and five other justices — rewrote the law to enable tax credits for insurance purchased through federal exchanges as well.
Which is yet another foreboding outcome for any hope of ever reining in the federal Leviathan.
In February, Obama’s FCC willfully ignored the plain text of any law ever passed. In their ideological zeal to unilaterally impose Network Neutrality – they unilaterally superimposed onto the Internet law written in 1934 for landline telephones. Because obviously the Great Depression-era Congress when writing their Communications Act – had in mind the World Wide Web.
How do we know Obama’s FCC is ignoring all legislative text ever written? Because the last time Congress wrote communications law was the 1996 Telecommunications Act – in which the phrases “Network Neutrality” and/or “Net Neutrality” appear…exactly zero times. And because said Act clearly placed the Internet in an entirely different classification category than the one for landline telephones.
For the FCC to have Net Neutrality imposition authority – preceding Congressional action creating said authority is required. Twice previously the FCC has tried to impose Net Neutrality – and twice the D.C. Circuit Court unanimously rejected the attempts.
The Obama FCC’s “solution” to this isn’t to seek said legislation. It is to rewrite law and pretend a 1930s Congress writing for phones – really actually also meant the Internet. Which wouldn’t even exist for another sixty years.
The D.C. Circuit Court must do what it has twice previously done – acknowledge that there is under existing law no FCC Net Neutrality authority. And rule that there is certainly no authority for the Commission to by fiat reclassify the Internet as a 1930s landline telephone. The necessary words for any of this have never been written.
Hope for reining in the out-of-control Leviathan grows fainter – but remains.
This first appeared in Human Events and Red State.