Don’t look now, but Congress is preparing more legislation aimed at blackmailing states into going along with another unfunded, unconstitutional mandate Washington has no original authority to issue.
Earlier this month, Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and John Warner, R-Va., teamed up to sponsor a bill that would create a national seatbelt law. The motivation is, of course, said to be noble. Advocates want the new law because they claim it will save countless lives. Auto insurance firms support it because they claim it will improve their bottom lines, though there is something wrong with using government force to shore up profits.
In any event, the bill calls for withholding a portion of federal highway funds from each state that a) does not pass a law requiring drivers to wear a seat belt; and b) not achieving a 90 percent compliance rate within three years of passage.
Perhaps this is na?ve, but constitutionally speaking, legislators supporting this bill have their roles – and that of the federal government – backward.
There is no constitutional power granted to Congress to force American drivers to buckle up. It doesn’t matter a whit if all the research in the world proves buckling up saves lives, saves money, or saves the whales – Congress has no authority to force drivers to make smart driving decisions. States, on the other hand, have the authority to pass or not pass such laws, but on the federal level, this authority does not exist.
On the other hand, Article I, Sect. 8 of the Constitution says one of Congress’ duties is to “establish post offices and post roads.” So when Congress threatens to withhold highway funds unless states enact federal seat belt laws, they are acting outside the scope of their authority.
In order to continue operating in the constitutional darkness, Congress always employs a number of useful idiots to sow propaganda, fear and anger among the population. So it is with the national seatbelt law.
“When people don’t buckle up, all of society pays,” says Phil Haseltine, president of the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, or ACTS, a group pushing Congress to pass a national seatbelt law. “An estimated $26 billion is spent annually on medical and emergency response care, lost productivity and other injury related costs.”
These half-truths are intentionally misleading. Insured drivers pay their own way, and the federal government was never authorized by the Constitution to get into the insurance business in the first place. If states want to tax their citizens for same, that’s another story.
OK, so Congress acting outside its scope and authority is nothing new. But that’s partly because political leaders are too infrequently challenged about their extra-constitutional actions and too frequently asked by special interests to violate their oaths of office.
Another reason is because local and state leaders have done nothing to stand up to Washington’s power-mongering habits. Congress cannot impose its unconstitutional will on states unless states are willing to accept it.
Americans should know two things: It’s never too late to reclaim lost liberties, and there is no reasoning with a political system whose sole purpose is self-perpetuation. Change, if there is to be any, must be forced on unwilling federal-crats who will continue to override the Constitution as long as they are permitted.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.” This is entirely within the realm of possibility, even today. But it’s up to us. Washington isn’t going to surrender power willingly.
State leaders who don’t have the intestinal fortitude to combat Washington’s power greed should be replaced. They are only helping to perpetuate an out-of-control federal system contrary to that which was established by our founding fathers.