Sen. Webb's Perpetual Legal Motion Machine - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Sen. Webb’s Perpetual Legal Motion Machine
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My letter in response to Sen. Jim Webb’s eye-opening constitutional scholarship of last week runs in the Wall Street Journal today here. As submitted in slightly longer form:

Sen. Webb’s Perpetual Legal Motion Machine

Let me get Sen. Jim Webb’s argument straight (“Rockefeller Bill Was Our Best Hope”, Letters, April 13). He writes that for Congress to amend the Clean Air Act to return it to the way it was written and interpreted for 35 years — until the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA said it actually means something very different — would be in ‘violation of the Supreme Court holding in’ that case. Separation of powers, like the Constitution itself, truly is a thing of the past in some quarters.

A legislator, of all people, argues that when the Court speaks on the meaning of a statute that reading is locked in amber. That no matter if a majority in Congress disagree, or simply want to change the law for whatever reason, the peoples’ representatives are hogtied. I suppose repeal is out of the question.

Justice Scalia noted in his dissent that this opinion apparently delivered on stone tablets “defies common sense”, and even EPA agrees, formally claiming that its own implementation of Mass. v. EPA leads to “absurd results”. So absurd in fact that the agency must rewrite the statute to accommodate their otherwise absurd reading of the statute. Well, that’s ok. The Court has spoken. And it’s not like they’re Congress or anything, is which case the revision would be intolerable brigandage. What a world.

Perpetual motion machines remain elusive. But now we have the notion of the perpetual statute which, once written and interpreted, can never be pruned. Only expanded, by the unelected. How ironic, then, that it is the environmentalists who ritually invoke the specter of Frankenstein, of unleashing horrors on the world which slip the bonds of human control.

The more our political class speak, the better the Tea Partiers sound.

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