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Lawless Legislators: The Federal Rupture of the Rule of Law

Attempting to coerce individuals to participate in health insurance commerce undercuts both in several ways. It's a grotesque extension of the Commerce Clause (as the administration implicitly recognizes, shifting its legal argument every week to a new rationalization). It's a blatant encouragement for millions to refuse to comply. Writing the statute so the IRS enforcement provision carries no teeth is just one more recognition of that.

Banks can't possibly comply with the provisions of the Financial Stability Act. Even after creating yet another mammoth (2,300 page) bill, federal agencies now have to craft thousands of detailed regulations, several of them brand-new with the passage of the bill. Hearing this criticism, its chief sponsor Sen. Dodd responded:

It's the dumbest argument I've ever heard. What do they expect me to write, a 100,000-page bill? This is far beyond the capacity, the expertise, the knowledge of a Congress.

The Privileged and the Peons

The rule of law is supposed to support peaceful social integration. That's hampered when Congress divides citizens into favored and disfavored groups, violating a basic principle of good law: that they should apply equally to all citizens.

The financial reform bill does nothing to alter the federally backstopped status of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two GSEs at the center of the economic crisis of 2008. The recent ethics charges against Maxine Waters make clear that there are banks, and then there are congressional family projects. The Feds closed Obama's pet, ShoreBank, then it re-opened the next day under a new name without so much as a bark from the Department of Justice.

Beyond cronyism, the provisions of some of the laws themselves create variations in status among citizens. Following a decades-long pattern of exempting the political class from its own legislation, ObamaCare allows the privileged few to avoid signing up. The financial reform bill further undermines the constitutional rights of executives by involving the federal government even deeper in compensation. (See "Clawbacks," Section 954, and "Additional Regulations specifying 'excess compensation,'" Section 956.)

Enforcement has followed a similar pattern. The thugs of the New Black Panthers walk without even a trial because they happen to be radical left-wing activists. Charlie Rangel has yet to see a day in jail, or even a hefty fine. ACORN is still in business, merely weakened and metastasized under a hundred new names.

The Creation of Chaos

Last but far from least, in far too many cases, attempting to follow the laws ensures chaos. It's been demonstrated over and over again for centuries that price controls invariably produce unintended consequences the controllers themselves dislike. ObamaCare guarantees that no one will have a clue how insurances rates are likely to move. The Financial Stability Act will generate further uncertainty in the derivatives and mortgage markets.

The Progressively Heinous Results

From the creation of the Magna Carta in 1215 to the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1789, Western civilization struggled hard to establish the basic principles of justice and the protection of individual rights.

America's ruling class, who in a more just society were the severely restrained class, have spent the past century undermining that effort every way they could imagine. Their depredations have accelerated in the past 40 years, reaching a new plateau in the past two. It's well past time to reverse the trend.