An emailer reminds me of the precise language that appeared in the Supreme Court's case that ruled that states could criminalize homosexual sodomy. In Bowers v. Harwick, Justice Byron White (a JFK appointee) wrote for the majority:
Proscriptions against that conduct have ancient roots.... In 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, all but 5 of the 37 States in the Union had criminal sodomy laws. In fact, until 1961, all 50 States outlawed sodomy, and today, States and the District of Columbia continue to provide criminal penalties for sodomy performed in private and between consenting adults.... Against this background, to claim that a right to engage in such conduct is "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition" or "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" is, at best, facetious.When Bowers was reversed 17 years later, in Lawrence v. Texas. Justice Scalia — the liberals' least (or second-least) favorite Justice — saw fit to quote those words in his dissenting opinion.
My emailer was James Taranto, author of the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web," which quoted my blog post yesterday and said:
We recall a conversation with a young liberal lawyer we met at an event in late March, a few days after the House passed ObamaCare. When we pointed out that there were likely to be court challenges to the new law, particularly the mandate to purchase insurance, she was dismissive. She asserted that the constitutional questions were well settled. When we offered arguments to the contrary, she did not engage them but became emphatic to the point of belligerence, insisting that it was "crazy" to harbor any doubts about the constitutionality of ObamaCare.Well, you'll feel better if you dance like Fred Astaire:
Our position was not that ObamaCare was clearly unconstitutional or that it was likely to be struck down, merely that there were serious constitutional arguments against it that had some possibility of prevailing. This modest claim so shocked our new acquaintance that an initially pleasant encounter turned rancorous and left us feeling she had insulted our intelligence....
Here's Fred with the words to the Gershwins' "They All Laughed."
They all laughed at Rockefeller CenterBut speaking of Robert Fulton and his steamboat, and who gets the last laugh, Fulton was a famous loser in the most famous Commerce Clause case of them all, Gibbons v. Ogden, and Fulton was on the side that argued for the narrow interpretation of Congress's enumerated power. Chief Justice John Marshall laid down the broad interpretation:
Now they're fighting to get in
They all laughed at Whitney
and his cotton gin
They all laughed Fulton and his steamboat
Hershey and his chocolate bar
Ford and his Lizzie
Kept the laughers busy
That's how people are
They laughed at me wanting you
Said it would be, "Hello, Goodbye."
But oh, you came through
Now they're eating humble pie
This power, like all others vested in Congress, is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed in the Constitution.... [T]he sovereignty of Congress, though limited to specified objects, is plenary as to those objects....This is the beginning of the line of expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause that the proponents of health care reform will rely on as they take their case up on appeal to the 4th Circuit and, presumably, to the Supreme Court. We'll see who's dancing and who's eating humble pie then.
The wisdom and the discretion of Congress, their identity with the people, and the influence which their constituents possess at elections are, in this as in many other instances, as that, for example, of declaring war, the sole restraints on which they have relied to secure them from its abuse.