Thursday, February 25, 2010

Al Franken, a Natural Politician

Many months ago I sent an email to Minnesota's two senators regarding the Enumerated Powers Act. The bill, as presented before Congress would require, "that every bill must specify its source of Constitutional authority."

Just today, I received a response from Senator Al Franken (I am one of the few that see no irony in a comedian's membership in the U.S. Senate). To Franken's credit, the letter is surprisingly long and interacts with the substance of the bill. However, the response is typical of Washington politicians statist ambitions, lack of accountability, and casual delegation of responsibility. Note especially the text in bold in his response:

Dear Mr.,

Thank you for contacting me about S. 1310, the Enumerated Powers Act. I appreciate you sharing your views on this legislation and regret the delay in responding.

As you know, S. 1310 would compel Congress to cite the specific constitutional authority for every law enacted. I understand your concern regarding Congress overreaching its constitutionally-granted authority, and I agree that when Congress does so there should be consequences. That being said, since the ratification of the Constitution, and since the Supreme Court's ruling in Marbury v. Madison in 1803, it has been the role of federal courts to interpret the constitutional authority of Congress, and to exercise judicial review of misuses of that authority.

In contrast, members of Congress are elected to represent the will of the people -- not to cast legal judgment on their views and initiatives. Regular congressional intervention into the sphere of constitutional interpretation may be impractical and could upset the delicate balance of powers that the framers of the Constitution intended.

After its introduction on June 22, 2009, S. 1310 was referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, where it is pending further review. While I am not a member of this committee, please be assured I will keep your thoughts in mind should the legislation come before the full Senate for a vote.

Again, thank you for contacting me, and please don't hesitate to do so in the future regarding this or any other matter of concern to you.


Al Franken

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