Perhaps it’s too much for elected officials in Washington to understand the document to which they swear an oath of loyalty. It certainly proves too much for Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who responds to an inartfully posed question about the constitutionality of ObamaCare by offering a very odd response. Shea-Porter says that ObamaCare is constitutional because … er … the Constitution doesn’t cover everything … or something:
Caller Dennis from Manchester asked Shea-Porter during a broadcast on WGIR radio, “I just wanted to know where it says in the Constitution that the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party for that matter, can pretty much do what they’re trying to do?”
“I would point out to you that in the Constitution it also does not say the government can build roads or should build roads,” Shea-Porter replied. “It also doesn’t say the government should make sure the drugs are safe. It doesn’t say the government should look at airplanes to make sure they are safe to get on. It doesn’t say we should have a police force in Manchester.”
“So, the Constitution did not cover everything,” Shea-Porter concluded.
Where to start with this foolishness? Shea-Porter apparently labors under the mistaken belief that Congress runs everything in the US, instead of the proper role of Congress, which is to run the federal government. The Constitution sets their power and circumscribes it rather clearly in Article I, Section 8 and Section 9 of the Constitution. The Tenth Amendment reserves all other powers to the states or to the people, underscoring the explicit limitation on Congressional power:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Therefore, when the Constitution does not “cover” a subject, it explicitly and expressly intends for Congress and the federal government to butt out.
The examples Shea-Porter gives are equally clueless. Drugs, roads, and airplanes fall fairly understandably under the interstate commerce clause of Article I Section 8, although roads in particular have led to a chronic abuse of power by Congress. Transportation bills fund all sorts of pork-barrel projects — it’s perhaps the most pork-filled of annual appropriations — and fund projects that have nothing to do with interstate commerce.
However, Manchester does not require Congressional approval to establish a police force. Congress has no authority to approve or block the establishment of local and state law-enforcement agencies, a fact someone who’s served in Congress should understand. That argument actually works against Shea-Porter; America has had local law enforcement without Congressional intervention for the entirety of its history, and that’s managed to work out well, perhaps because of the lack of Congressional interference.
Maybe we should require elected representatives to take and pass a civics class before assuming office. Clearly, Shea-Porter is in desperate need of one.