Legislative Lowdown: Constitution smacked down by Supreme Court

Brian Darling Liberty Government Affairs
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The Constitution took a beating at the U.S. Supreme Court this week. There are three lessons conservatives should take from the Obamacare decision.

First, conservatives in Congress shouldn’t rely on the Supreme Court to do their dirty work. It is incumbent upon every senator and representative to do everything possible to make constitutional arguments against unconstitutional legislation. They take an oath to the Constitution when they are all sworn in.

Second, conservatives should never look at the Supreme Court as a bastion of conservative thought. The justices got it wrong and threw out the principle of limited government. This is a shocking loss for the American people and a blow to constitutional government that reaches well beyond health care.

Finally, senators need to do a better job of doing their constitutional duty to “advise” on nominations. Remember, we are one Supreme Court justice away from losing our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Marco Rubio defends filibusters

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) entered the liberal den of Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and defended Republicans’ use of the filibuster in order to be allowed to offer amendments and participate in the national debate. “The truth of the matter is that the current Senate leadership doesn’t allow any votes on anything,” Rubio argued. He’s correct.

I pointed out in a paper for The Heritage Foundation that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is running the Senate as a procedural tyrant. Reid regularly uses a procedural tactic called “filling the amendment tree” as a means to block senators’ right to debate and offer amendments. Rubio was correct to point out that “as a member of the minority party, if I say ‘I’d like to file and amendment to the bill,’ they won’t let me get a vote on it.” Reid has systematically blocked Republicans from offering controversial amendments to bills.

Rubio pointed out that “as the minority party in the Senate, you should have the opportunity to vote on these amendments.” Reid has violated this tradition of the Senate. Rubio then hit the reason for Reid’s obstructionism when he argued that “they are trying to protect their incumbents from taking these tough votes. So they are not allowing any votes on amendments on bills in the Senate.” More senators need to help educate the American people that Majority Leader Reid is the obstructionist in the Senate. He’s the reason for the explosion of filibusters in this Congress.

John McCain wants to raise your taxes

Consider this another installment on my views on a secret plan on the part of Republicans and Democrats to raise your taxes during the lame-duck session. This is real — taxpayers should be worried.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was quoted in The Hill saying that the tax increase plan proposed by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) during debt commission super-committee negotiations could be used to avert cuts to defense spending. McCain told a Bloomberg Government Defense conference that “Pat Toomey, in the final hours, as you know, before the failure of this select committee, had some proposals, some of which have already been adopted, for raising revenues, closing loopholes, whatever you want to call it, and I think that that could serve as a blueprint for further action on our part.” Add McCain to the list of members who want to raise your taxes

According to Jim Geraghty of National Review, “The Toomey plan included $250 billion in revenues from eliminating or reducing tax deductions for the top two income brackets (which start at $174,400 for those filing singly and $212,300 for those filing jointly in this tax year). The plan also included $100 billion in ‘non-tax revenues,’ described as user fees and asset sales.” This plan is a tax hike and would violate the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently raised the idea of breaking the ATR Pledge. Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) has been lobbying his former colleagues to adopt a broad deficit-reduction plan that will include higher tax rates to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. They are going to pit national defense hawks against defenders of low taxation.

Brian Darling is a senior fellow for Government Studies at The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).