Government by fiat

The Governor of Illinois announces his defiance of federal regulations and unveils a program today to help residents import foreign drugs. In justification, he states:

"The federal government has failed to act," Gov. Blagojevich said in a statement. "So it's time that we do."

And they accuse George Bush of trampling on laws?
Democrats seem to be able to pick and choose which laws can be broken, instead of working through the political process to change them. The homosexual marriages performed by municipal officials defying state law in San Francisco were widely celebrated.  Now, drug importation in defiance of lawful regulation is similarly receiving kudos from elements of the press and public.
 
Government by executive fiat has arrived. The presumptive good intentions of the lawless officials are all that seems to matter.

Once contempt for what the law actually says becomes habitual, our system of governance degenerates into tyranny. At first it may seem to be quite benign, with the dictator acting out of (possibly) genuine concern for the public welfare. But without the restraint of respect for the messy details of what the law actually says, the necessary fetters on untrammeled and arbitrary power are lost. Lord Acton long ago warned us that power corrupts, and absolute power (which is what the ability to make up law means) corrupts absolutely.

It is not the executive branch alone which is at fault. Too many courts are willing to overlook the actual language of the law and in effect enact new laws from the bench. Once again, the stated intentions are benign, and many in the public, and even the legal academic community, applaud the 'compassion' or 'concern' or 'creativity' of the tyrants in judicial robes. The Founders, who insisted on a balance of power among the three branches of the state, were far wiser than these sophists.

One of the most blatant examples of judicial tyranny took place in the most recent New Jersey Senatorial election, after Senator Torricelli withdrew from the race after the legal deadline for filing for candidacy. The New Jersey Supreme Court allowed the state's election laws to be flouted, and a new Democratic Party candidate to take Torricelli's place on the ballot, for the supposed greater good of allowing the voters a choice. The irony of flouting the law in order to give voters a choice of a Democrat as a lawmaker seems to have escaped the Garden State justices.

Returning to Illinois, there is an opportunity to reign in the lawlessness of the governor, if the Food and Drug Administration would only exercise its authority. As the Chicago Sun—Times notes,

Emboldened because the FDA has yet to crack down on a state or local government or even an individual buying foreign drugs, Illinois decided to finally take the plunge.

The FDA is threatening to take the defiant state government to court. To be sure, the first step is appeal to a court which might actually read and follow the law. In California, this remedy has already been effectuated. The state's Supreme Court has invalidated the homosexual marriages conducted by the city's mayor and subordinate officials.

But to reign in the trend, stronger measures may be required than the judicial equivalent of 'go and sin no more.'  There must be consequences for lawlessness.

We are on a slippery slope, and much further down it than we would like to admit. It is long past time to impose meaningful punishment on those abusive officials who act on their contempt for the laws. Our Constitutional system of governance provides the remedy: legislative bodies hold the power of impeachment over those who flaunt their contempt for laws. It is a tool far too rarely employed, however.

Rogue mayors, governors, presidents, judges, and justices need to be tamed. We have inherited a system of rule of law which is degenerating into something else entirely. Even an unsuccessful attempt at impeachment, or an impeachment which fails to convict, focuses the mind almost as marvelously as an impending hanging. Respect for law inevitably rests on a fear of the consequences of its defiance. As much in the case of officials as in the case of ordinary citizens.

The Governor of Illinois announces his defiance of federal regulations and unveils a program today to help residents import foreign drugs. In justification, he states:

"The federal government has failed to act," Gov. Blagojevich said in a statement. "So it's time that we do."

And they accuse George Bush of trampling on laws?
Democrats seem to be able to pick and choose which laws can be broken, instead of working through the political process to change them. The homosexual marriages performed by municipal officials defying state law in San Francisco were widely celebrated.  Now, drug importation in defiance of lawful regulation is similarly receiving kudos from elements of the press and public.
 
Government by executive fiat has arrived. The presumptive good intentions of the lawless officials are all that seems to matter.

Once contempt for what the law actually says becomes habitual, our system of governance degenerates into tyranny. At first it may seem to be quite benign, with the dictator acting out of (possibly) genuine concern for the public welfare. But without the restraint of respect for the messy details of what the law actually says, the necessary fetters on untrammeled and arbitrary power are lost. Lord Acton long ago warned us that power corrupts, and absolute power (which is what the ability to make up law means) corrupts absolutely.

It is not the executive branch alone which is at fault. Too many courts are willing to overlook the actual language of the law and in effect enact new laws from the bench. Once again, the stated intentions are benign, and many in the public, and even the legal academic community, applaud the 'compassion' or 'concern' or 'creativity' of the tyrants in judicial robes. The Founders, who insisted on a balance of power among the three branches of the state, were far wiser than these sophists.

One of the most blatant examples of judicial tyranny took place in the most recent New Jersey Senatorial election, after Senator Torricelli withdrew from the race after the legal deadline for filing for candidacy. The New Jersey Supreme Court allowed the state's election laws to be flouted, and a new Democratic Party candidate to take Torricelli's place on the ballot, for the supposed greater good of allowing the voters a choice. The irony of flouting the law in order to give voters a choice of a Democrat as a lawmaker seems to have escaped the Garden State justices.

Returning to Illinois, there is an opportunity to reign in the lawlessness of the governor, if the Food and Drug Administration would only exercise its authority. As the Chicago Sun—Times notes,

Emboldened because the FDA has yet to crack down on a state or local government or even an individual buying foreign drugs, Illinois decided to finally take the plunge.

The FDA is threatening to take the defiant state government to court. To be sure, the first step is appeal to a court which might actually read and follow the law. In California, this remedy has already been effectuated. The state's Supreme Court has invalidated the homosexual marriages conducted by the city's mayor and subordinate officials.

But to reign in the trend, stronger measures may be required than the judicial equivalent of 'go and sin no more.'  There must be consequences for lawlessness.

We are on a slippery slope, and much further down it than we would like to admit. It is long past time to impose meaningful punishment on those abusive officials who act on their contempt for the laws. Our Constitutional system of governance provides the remedy: legislative bodies hold the power of impeachment over those who flaunt their contempt for laws. It is a tool far too rarely employed, however.

Rogue mayors, governors, presidents, judges, and justices need to be tamed. We have inherited a system of rule of law which is degenerating into something else entirely. Even an unsuccessful attempt at impeachment, or an impeachment which fails to convict, focuses the mind almost as marvelously as an impending hanging. Respect for law inevitably rests on a fear of the consequences of its defiance. As much in the case of officials as in the case of ordinary citizens.