Today in Washington - June 30, 2010

Clearly, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court Elena Kagan does not believe in a limited federal government.  Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) asked her whether the federal government has the power to tell Americans that they have to eat “three vegetables and three fruits every day.”  Kagan declined to use that question as an opportunity to state that the federal government has limited powers and used the question as an opportunity to argue that the federal government has expansive powers under Supreme Court precedent.  Clearly, Kagan would uphold the individual mandate, uphold gun bans, and provide rubber stamp many controversial decisions of her current boss, President Obama.  The Senate is supposed to protect against cronyism and extremism on the Courts, yet Senators seem poised to confirm a nominee who evidences a predisposition to rubber stamp ObamaCare and gut the Second Amendment.


The Senate will vote on the confirmation of David Petraeus to be commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in what may be the quickest confirmation in Senate history.  The House will vote on the Financial Services Reform conference report after an emergency amendment was added yesterday afternoon in conference.  Today is a second day of questioning for Elena Kagan in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Issues for Conservatives to watch today:

  • Elena Kagan – Conservatives are deeply concerned about the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court because of her extreme views on the scope of federal power.  The Constitution authorizes a limited federal government with enumerated powers.  Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 states “The Congress shall have power .. to regulate Commerce .. among the several States.”  The exchange between Senator Tom Coburn and Elena Kagan would lead one to believe that Kagan would vote on the Supreme Court to allow a federal mandate forcing all Americans to buy health insurance from a private company.  Elena Kagan said in response to Senator Coburn that “the commerce clause has been interpreted broadly.”  True, yet the Courts have been interpreting the Constitution.  The Constitution’s clear language, not a judges interpretation of that clear language, should be the ultimate binding precedent.  For some reason, liberal nominees use precedent as a crutch to ignore the Constitution and argue that a Supreme Court judges decision in a prior case is binding on current Justices.  Even if that prior interpretation is an incorrect reading of the clear language of the Constitution.  Kagan further stated her interpretation of Supreme Court precedent interpreting the Commerce Clause that “it has not been applied to non-economic activities, especially to the extent that those activities have traditionally been regulated by the states.”  Kagan made a good, but non responsive point that “we can come up with sort of, you know, just ridiculous sounding laws, and the — and the — and the principal protector against bad laws in the political branches themselves.”  True.  If a bad law is passed, the politicians will be send packing for new politicians to reverse a bad law.  That may happen with ObamaCare, yet it ignores the core question of whether the Commerce Clause grants the federal government virtually unlimited powers to force private citizens to eat vegetables, fruit and purchase private health insurance.
  • More Bailouts – The House will vote today on a version of the Financial Services Reform bill that was negotiated late yesterday afternoon.  Politico’s Morning Money reports “yesterday’s extraordinary move to reopen Dodd-Frank and scrap the $19 billion bank tax did not win an immediate vow of support from the All Powerful Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.), so the game is not over. Still, Senate passage the week of July 12 seems likely given positive comments from Maine GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.”  This bill is a few votes short without the support of Brown, Collins and Snowe, therefore this bill is not ready for passage in the Senate after the House passes it today.  More from Politico.  “POLITICO’s Carrie Budoff Brown, Jonathan Allen and Meredith Shiner break it down: ‘If Democrats are unable to appease Brown, they could still get to 60 by securing support from Snowe and Collins, waiting for Byrd’s replacement and asking Cantwell to vote with Democrats on breaking the filibuster while allowing her to vote against the conference report. [Rep. Barney] Frank floated this scenario Tuesday as a possibility.'”  No matter what deal insiders cut to secure 60 votes in the Senate, no change has been made to the language in the bill establishing a permanent bailout authority for the federal government.  Tea Party activists should be concerned. 
  • Oil Spill Cleanup IdeasThe Foundry blog today highlights “the top actions the federal government must take immediately to assist the citizens of the Gulf as they cope with this tragedy.”  Check it out.


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