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None Dare Call It Dictatorship
Fountain of Truth ^ | March 18, 2002 | Douglas F. Newman

Posted on 03/18/2002 8:18:37 PM PST by hellonewman

None Dare Call It Dictatorship

March 17, 2002

A few years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor about a woman who ran afoul of the authorities when she refused to rent a room to a couple who were shacking up out of wedlock. She was charged with discrimination, and had appealed the decision to the level of a federal circuit court. When the circuit court ruled against her, she appealed to the Supreme Court, which decided not to take the case.

I sent the letter to my e-mail list, and got the following response from a recipient: "What kind of government would do something as outrageous as this?"

I replied, "A dictatorship would do this."

Such was my reaction this past week when President Bush announced a decision to impose a 30 percent tariff on imported steel. Did anyone notice how president simply imposed a tariff without a vote by Congress? There was no debate, no nothing. The president simply raised taxes. What kind of president would do something as outrageous as this?

A dictator would. Can you imagine the sound and fury from Republicans had a president Al Gore done something like this? A special interest group feels the economic pinch and tightens the screws on the president to grant them a favor and to win votes for him and his party in places such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Gary, Indiana. The president, without batting an eye, grants them their wish by unilaterally imposing a new tax.

At least if a president Al Gore had done this, there would have been vehement Republican opposition. There would have been some check on such an arbitrary and capricious act of tyranny. (If this is not taxation without representation, what is?) But if a Republican president does this, Republicans say nothing.

Time and again, they tell me that, by supporting the Libertarian Party, I take votes from the Republicans and pave the way for Democratic victories. Does it really matter anymore? At least when Clinton raised taxes, he did so with prior congressional approval.

Let's admit it: we live under a dictatorship. Oh sure, we have elections. And, oh sure, I can write this column without fear of imprisonment on the North Slope of Alaska. But we have moved so far from what could be described as a free country that most Americans would not recognize freedom if it landed on their head in the form of a 16-ton weight. Indeed, how many Americans even care about freedom anymore?

What was Bush's source of authority for imposing such a tax increase? Who knows? But even assuming that federal law (maybe it was one of those newfangled "free trade" agreements) permitted it still does not justify such an act. The law permits plenty of objectionable things. Abortion, pornography, joining the Ku Klux Klan, and public flag desecration are cases in point. What happened at Auschwitz was permitted under the laws of the Third Reich. That which is legal and that which is desirable are often very different.

The Declaration of Independence speaks of, "a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, (evincing) a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism." The always-quotable Joseph Sobran once said that the size and intrusiveness of our current form of government makes the "Train" of King George III resemble a caboose.

All the fiery rhetoric of the Founders was directed at a "tyrant" who taxed his subjects at a rate of about three percent. Today, we in "the land of the free" are taxed at about 50 percent when you add federal, state, and local taxes. What kind of government would do this?

A dictatorship would.

The Declaration of Independence lists among the grievances against King George III, "imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:" Only dictators govern in such a manner. Not only do we have one-party government any longer, we have one branch of government. The Founders gave us three branches of government so that, when one branch stepped out of line, another branch could say, "We don't think so." Thus far, only the venerable Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) has criticized President Bush's naked act of tyranny. There has been no other challenge from Congress or the Courts. Nor will there likely be one.

The Founders also took King George III to task for "(erecting) a Multitude of new Offices, and (sending) hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance." Consider the IRS, DEA, FDA, DOE, DOT, BATF, EPA, OSHA, and all the other unconstitutional alphabet soup agencies that infest our landscape. (Look how President Bush created the cabinet level Office of Homeland Security by executive fiat, again, without congressional approval.) Once instituted, these agencies never go away. The only debate is over how best to run them. What kind of government would micromanage our lives like this?

A dictatorship would.

King George III was a lot of bad things, but he never insisted that we educate our children in his schools. Indeed, there is no biblical mention of the Romans forcing Christians to educate their children in imperial schools. And yet the conservative establishment never questions the institution of state education. They simply think that if they put Bill Bennett or someone like that in charge everything will be fine. There is no biblical or constitutional basis for state education. State education is a policy prescription of the Communist Manifesto.

What kind of government would impose such a system on its subjects, and still force them to pay for it even if they decided to educate their children elsewhere?

A dictatorship would.

In the last two years I have had three relapses of an old back injury. This has complicated my life severely. There may well be either surgical procedures or muscle relaxing medications that could help me, and that are doing great things for people overseas, but that are not approved by the FDA. (There are medications of many kinds that are working quite successfully overseas that are verboten by the FDA.) What kind of government would make you a criminal for ingesting beneficial substances into your body?

You guessed it: a dictatorship.

But don't we have representative government and doesn't the majority elect our officials? Well, yes, but your right to vote does not imply a right to violate my rights. Someone far wittier than I once quipped that a democracy is where two wolves and a sheep take a majority vote on what's for supper. Another wit followed up on this saying that a constitutional republic exists when the wolves are forbidden on voting on what's for supper and the sheep are well armed.

(I hope by now that you have figured out what kind of government would disarm innocent law-abiding citizens.)

We have a Constitution that sets clear, defined limits on what the federal government can and cannot do. Just because something sounds good, or just because voting for something makes you feel good, does not authorize the government to violate someone else's rights. Indeed, our current philosophy of government may be summarized in six words: If it sounds good do it.

We have not even talked about the War on Drugs or the president's post-9/11 domestic agenda. I know they sound good to a lot of people and I know they make a lot of people who support them feel all tingly inside. However, they are both excuses to tyrannize America even further. They are just two more examples of government run amok, which is just another way of saying dictatorship.

Toward the end of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote that, "A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People." Most conservatives would have no problem applying these last nine words to Bill Clinton. Yet when George W. Bush tyrannizes this country to a greater degree than Bill Clinton did, they are strangely silent. Why do they not subject Dubya to the same scrutiny as his predecessor?


Freely Speaking: Speeches and Essays by Doug Newman

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TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bush; tariffs; tyranny

1 posted on 03/18/2002 8:18:37 PM PST by hellonewman
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To: hellonewman
As President it's well within his right to regulate trade between the US and nations. The article falls back on the emotional argument that it's not fair and dictatorial.
2 posted on 03/18/2002 8:21:58 PM PST by Bogey78O
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To: hellonewman
Charged with discrimination? What kind? Last I checked there's no constitutionally-protected right to shack up.
3 posted on 03/18/2002 8:23:21 PM PST by lawgirl
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To: lawgirl
Charged with discrimination? What kind? Last I checked there's no constitutionally-protected right to shack up.

Housing discrimination. You can't discriminate regarding who you rent or sell to. Thus you won't see any ads that read "House for rent to White Christian couple."

4 posted on 03/18/2002 8:25:49 PM PST by neutrino
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To: Bogey78O
What constitution are you reading? The Constitution that I support and defend gives this power to Congress, not the President.
5 posted on 03/18/2002 8:29:07 PM PST by hellonewman
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To: hellonewman
Such was my reaction this past week when President Bush announced a decision to impose a 30 percent tariff on imported steel. Did anyone notice how president simply imposed a tariff without a vote by Congress?

This EO is well within the bounds of the executive's branch powers, as the president is chief magistrate for enforcing the constitution...In fact tarriff's are one of the only forms of taxes that are constitutional...

6 posted on 03/18/2002 8:30:54 PM PST by alphadog
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To: hellonewman
None Dare Call It Dictatorship

...Unless they don't mind looking like a tinfoil-hatted, hyperbolic Chicken Little.

Josef Stalin = Dictator
George W. Bush = President of a consitutional republic

7 posted on 03/18/2002 8:32:38 PM PST by kezekiel
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To: Bogey78O
LOL! Yup, this guy is nutty. The President is acting within the authority given him by the Congress. The author would be better received if he didn't resort to the emotionalism of the liberals, but rather stated facts or opinion, not confusing the two.
8 posted on 03/18/2002 8:33:49 PM PST by TheDon
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To: hellonewman
He's not taxing US citizens. He's taxing imports coming into the US. It's well within the power of the president.
9 posted on 03/18/2002 8:35:27 PM PST by Bogey78O
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To: kezekiel
Josef Stalin = Dictator
George W. Bush = President of a consitutional republic

Actually, it's a representative republic. But other than that, I concur.

FReegards,

10 posted on 03/18/2002 8:37:13 PM PST by Capitalist Eric
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To: Bogey78O
He's not taxing US citizens. He's taxing imports coming into the US.

Do you think that tariff is going to make steel more expensive? Do you think that expensive steel is going to make your next car, or anything else you buy with steel, more expensive?

Of course you do, and there's your "tax".

11 posted on 03/18/2002 8:40:03 PM PST by Lizavetta
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To: hellonewman
Yet when George W. Bush tyrannizes this country to a greater degree than Bill Clinton did, they are strangely silent.

Oh Pleeze! Get real!

12 posted on 03/18/2002 8:43:40 PM PST by ladyinred
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To: Bogey78O
The Constitution clearly grants the power to lay taxes, tariffs and excises to Congress, not to the President. This is an unconstitutional action by the executive branch UNLESS the President is merely asking Congress to ratify it.
13 posted on 03/18/2002 8:51:28 PM PST by Acolyte
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To: Lizavetta
That's lame. No different than saying the gov't taxes Cocaine because of vigorous law enforcement efforts. Tariffs go on the seller. Sure it'll trickle down to the consumer but we're talking direct action not a 6th degree reaction.
14 posted on 03/18/2002 8:56:44 PM PST by Bogey78O
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To: Bogey78O
As President it's well within his right to regulate trade between the US and nations.

Where in the Constitution does it say that the President has the power to impose tariffs or otherwise regulate trade, without the approval of Congress?

What is the legal justification for Pres. Bush's tariff imposition? Has Congress passed a blanket bill allowing the President to do this at any time he chooses? (Can Congress really abrogate its Constitutional prerogatives in such a fashion?)

15 posted on 03/18/2002 9:01:59 PM PST by Mitchell
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To: kezekiel
Josef Stalin = Dictator
George W. Bush = President of a consitutional republic feel-good democracy

Tell me, how is two thirds of the Federal Budget constitutional?

When was the last time a state stuck its thumb in the eye of the Fedgov under the protection of the Tenth Amendment?

Our "republic" states that Congress declares war and then the Administration goes about the business of waging war. When did Congress declare war on Al-Quida? They generated some feel-good "support," but no declaration.

We poll, we poll, and we poll...

The Patriot Act is a good law because:
A) It is constitutionally mandated
B) It serves the purpose of limited government
C) Its sponsors enjoy an 80%+ approval rating

Food for thought...

16 posted on 03/18/2002 9:21:02 PM PST by Orion
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To: hellonewman
And yet the conservative establishment never questions the institution of state education. They simply think that if they put Bill Bennett or someone like that in charge everything will be fine.

Bill Bennett should be scrutinized. He's responsible for Goals 2000.

17 posted on 03/18/2002 9:23:11 PM PST by altair
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To: Mitchell
I posted too fast. Congress is the originator of all tariffs and taxes. Of course with this paarticular case it's hardly Bush dictating the Steel Tariff. As President Bush can't unilaterally declare a tariff. Authorization has to come from Congress. Apparently Congress is authorizing Bush to do so.
18 posted on 03/18/2002 9:25:55 PM PST by Bogey78O
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To: Orion
'When did Congress declare war on Al-Quida?'

The Congress voted to authorize Bush to take whatever action is neccesary to eliminate those responsible for 9-11. That's what made the libs upset....being a blank check and all.

19 posted on 03/18/2002 9:27:44 PM PST by Bogey78O
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To: Bogey78O
Just because it's a trickle down, indirect effect does not make it any less real. For example, who pays the corporate income tax? Ultimately, it's the purchaser of the company's products. The lost revenues don't come out of thin air.
20 posted on 03/18/2002 9:29:13 PM PST by altair
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To: Bogey78O
He's taxing imports coming into the US. It's well within the power of the president.

It is nothing of the sort. I give you, first, the relevant sections of the Constitution as pertain to the specific powers of the Congress...

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States...To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes...To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures... (From Article I, Section 8)

And, where it specifies the powers or privileges of the President viz legislation:

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

There you have it. There is nothing in the Supreme Law Of The Land which empowers the President to, in effect, legislate on his own as regards the power of the tariff (if you will, duties, imposts and excises) - or anything else, for that matter...just because the President can recommend a package of legislation does not bind or require Congress to give it even one minute of consideration; it is a recommendation alone, being that the specified legislative power is granted to Congress.

The executive order, if I am not mistaken, was supposed to be limited strictly to the administration of the various divisions of the executive branch of government and not - as was so often remarked during Bill Clinton's rather shameless flouting of the Constitution by way of executive order - as a lawmaking device. I have frankly found it tirelessly fascinating to see instances in which a President whom we (properly) despise receives our denunciation for such misdeployment of the executive order as precisely a flouting of the Constitution ("Stroke of the pen - law of the land"), yet a President whom we respect receives our acquittal for committing the same misdeployment which performs the same flouting of the Constitution.

Incidentally, if you really think the effect of a tariff upon consumers is merely a trickle-down effect (remember: Mr. and Mrs. America buying that new car or electric mixer or whatever it is they're buying that is made in whole or in part from steel, are not the only steel consumers - those who make the products are also steel consumers, and they will be having to pay a price above proper market value for the steel, and guess how they're going to cushion that price hike?), I would invite you to have a review of the infamous Smoot-Hawley Tariff. You know - the one which lit the wick on that powder keg which became the Great Depression and sentenced us to the New Deal...
21 posted on 03/18/2002 9:31:53 PM PST by BluesDuke
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To: BluesDuke
I caught my error in the next post concerning power of the president.

Still the trickle down is irrelevant. I'm persoanlly not that thrilled with the tariff but the intention is to force domestic buyers to buy domestically. The trickle down effect applies there as well. What effect is greater depends upon which economist you talk to.

22 posted on 03/18/2002 9:35:57 PM PST by Bogey78O
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To: hellonewman
bump for later
23 posted on 03/18/2002 9:44:12 PM PST by Centurion2000
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To: Bogey78O
He's not taxing US citizens. He's taxing imports coming into the US. It's well within the power of the president.

Go re-read that Constitution .... tarriffs are taxes.

24 posted on 03/18/2002 9:45:07 PM PST by Centurion2000
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To: Centurion2000
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/648988/posts?page=18#18
25 posted on 03/18/2002 9:50:25 PM PST by Bogey78O
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To: Bogey78O
I caught my error in the next post concerning power of the president.

I know...I was probably writing my reply while you caught the error. I think they call this one of the occupational hazards of FREEPing...

I'm persoanlly not that thrilled with the tariff but the intention is to force domestic buyers to buy domestically.

No, its intention, when all is said and done, is to force American citizens to support businesses or industries in whose product(s) they have little or no confidence and for legitimate enough reasons. And since when is it the legitimate business, of properly construed American government, to force buyers to buy domestically, or to force American citizens to support inefficient businesses or inferior products, merely because a) a president may have been dumb enough to make such promises to said businesses (and Mr. Bush would hardly be the first president to have been dumb enough to do that); or, b) said businesses have, in effect, gone hat in hand to the State saying, "Our citizens have steadfastly refused, of their own sovereign choice as sovereign consumers, to purchase products made in turn from our product; therefore, it is the State's obligation to compel or coerce their choices to our favour."
26 posted on 03/18/2002 9:50:49 PM PST by BluesDuke
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To: BluesDuke
'No, its intention, when all is said and done, is to force American citizens to support businesses or industries in whose product(s) they have little or no confidence and for legitimate enough reasons.'

That's why I'm not too thrilled about it. My main objection was the emotional appeal of the article.

27 posted on 03/18/2002 9:52:24 PM PST by Bogey78O
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To: Bogey78O
"THE President is to have power, ``by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the senators present concur.'' - Federalist #75

"However proper or safe it may be in governments where the executive magistrate is an hereditary monarch, to commit to him the entire power of making treaties, it would be utterly unsafe and improper to intrust that power to an elective magistrate of four years' duration." - Federalist #75

"He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties..." - U.S. Constitution - Article II, Section 2

"First. That the supremacy of the national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution was pointed out by authors of The Federalist in 1787,9 and has since been given continuous recognition by this Court." - U.S. Supreme Court, HINES v. DAVIDOWITZ

Previous thread on Fast Track

28 posted on 03/18/2002 10:03:04 PM PST by Verax
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To: Bogey78O
My main objection was the emotional appeal of the article.

I think I understand that objection, though there is something to be said for the emotional appeal which allows logic and reason a place at its table, so to say. For one example among many, consider Common Sense (Paine), the Declaration of Independence and, in a somewhat different way, Edmund Burke's Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies.
29 posted on 03/18/2002 10:05:13 PM PST by BluesDuke
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To: hellonewman
Most Republicans are against the steel tariffs in general, but if it is in reaction to unfair trade practices and targeted there is nothing wrong with it. Congress gave the Prez such authority many years ago.
30 posted on 03/18/2002 10:10:38 PM PST by GeronL
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To: Bogey78O
When sales taxes are raised, who complains? Are not sales taxes legally the responsibility of the seller? What's the difference between a sales tax and a tariff, and why does any difference justify the claim that raising tariffs is not morally equivalent to raising sales (excise) taxes?
31 posted on 03/18/2002 10:12:09 PM PST by sourcery
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To: hellonewman
Although I agree with almost all the principles Mr. Newman writes about in this article, I am disappointed that he didn't do a little more homework on his central thesis -- that the President is acting like a dictator without legal authority -- and chose instead to spin off a rant that is only loosely rooted in fact.

Since at least as early as the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934, which was passed by Congress and signed into law, the President has had the power to control tariffs in one form or another. Subsequent laws further defined and expanded the President's power to control tariffs, including extensions of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act in 1951, 1955, and 1958; the original General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of 1947 (which Truman committed the U.S. to without congressional approval, by the way) which later blossomed into the 1994 GATT that spawned the WTO; the Trade Expansion Act of 1962; the Trade Act of 1974 and the Trade and Tariff Act of 1984.

I am not a student of U.S trade policy history. I found this information quickly and easily by searching the 'Net, which I routinely do when I want to get some background on an issue. In this case, I discovered that Mr. Newman's emotional outcry over this supposed presidential "dictatorship" is founded in ignorance, if not outright stupidity.

President Bush is acting under legal authority granted to him under laws passed by Congress. That is neither usurpation nor abuse. Unless his authority is successfully challenged in court, he, and future presidents, will continue to have the power to control tariffs. That is exactly how the U.S Constitution works.

If the Supreme Court ruled such control unconstitutional, however, and the President somehow actually managed to illegally control tariffs without being impeached, then we'd be faced with a dictator. It is unlikely that such a thing would happen without a lot of other, much more serious problems occurring first (like martial law).

Personally, I share a lot of Mr. Newman's concerns and am upset about the state of the union. There is way too much federal power, has been since the Civil War, and the trend is toward even more centralization and away from the union of sovereign states described in the Constitution. I am not very comfortable with Congress delegating powers specifically granted to it under the Constitution to the President in the name of expediency. That just sets us up for "limited time only" used-car-sale trade policies when representation, reflection and debate would serve us better.

Unlike Mr. Newman, however, I prefer not to tilt with windmills when there are so many real dragons to fight.

Imal

32 posted on 03/18/2002 11:45:44 PM PST by Imal
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To: Bogey78O
I posted too fast. Congress is the originator of all tariffs and taxes. Of course with this paarticular case it's hardly Bush dictating the Steel Tariff. As President Bush can't unilaterally declare a tariff. Authorization has to come from Congress. Apparently Congress is authorizing Bush to do so.

Well, that's what I'm curious about. Congress didn't pass the tariff now. Has Congress passed a bill giving the President blanket authorization to impose a tariff at any future time, and would such an abrogation of responsibility on the part of Congress be Consitutional?

33 posted on 03/19/2002 8:41:40 AM PST by Mitchell
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To: Imal
President Bush is acting under legal authority granted to him under laws passed by Congress. That is neither usurpation nor abuse. Unless his authority is successfully challenged in court, he, and future presidents, will continue to have the power to control tariffs. That is exactly how the U.S Constitution works.

This is an interesting question. Apparently Congress has passed a law giving the President the authority to declare tariffs.

Do you know of any Supreme Court rulings on whether one branch of government can choose to abrogate its responsibilities as enumerated in the Constitution? One might make the legal claim that Congress must approve each bill specifically.

This is especially persuasive in the case of taxes (including tariffs), which are required to originate in the House of Representatives. Did this tariff originate in the House? Maybe the blanket authorization originated in the House (I don't know), but this specific tariff originated in the President's office.

34 posted on 03/19/2002 8:49:18 AM PST by Mitchell
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To: Mitchell
Has Congress passed a bill giving the President blanket authorization to impose a tariff at any future time, and would such an abrogation of responsibility on the part of Congress be Consitutional?

The president's Steel Products Proclamation claims that Congress has delegated to him just such authority in the Trade Act. Following this link to the U.S. Code, you can find the relevant sections of the law.

35 posted on 03/19/2002 9:04:57 AM PST by Mike Johnson
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To: Mike Johnson
Thanks for the links. It will take some time to wade through this; it's quite complicated, and the legal references are scattered all over the U.S. Code.

Do you know if there are any Supreme Court rulings on whether Congress really can give advance approval to a general category of possible actions which would otherwise require specific individual approval? Can the Congress consitutionally delegate its authority under the Constitution to others (and, in particular, to the executive branch)?

36 posted on 03/19/2002 9:35:27 AM PST by Mitchell
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To: Mitchell
Well, having the president actually impose a tariff rather than just collect it seems like a violation of separation of powers to me, too. The Supreme Court, however, has ruled that Congress has the authority to delegate the adjustment of tariff rates to the executive branch in J. W. HAMPTON, JR., & CO. v. U. S., 276 U.S. 394 (1928). I guess that settles the issue.
37 posted on 03/19/2002 10:44:33 AM PST by Mike Johnson
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To: Mike Johnson
Well, having the president actually impose a tariff rather than just collect it seems like a violation of separation of powers to me, too. The Supreme Court, however, has ruled that Congress has the authority to delegate the adjustment of tariff rates to the executive branch in J. W. HAMPTON, JR., & CO. v. U. S., 276 U.S. 394 (1928). I guess that settles the issue.

Thank you; I appreciate your posting the link.

The principle here seems to be that Congress specified under what circumstances certain tariffs should be imposed and how the rates should be computed, but they left the actual computation and implementation in the hands of the executive branch. This makes the tariff considered in this Supreme Court case akin to a regulation, issued by the executive branch as part of its implementation of a statute passed by Congress.

The current tariff imposition appears to be much more discretionary than the Supreme Court envisioned in the case you cited. I doubt this will be taken to the Supreme Court (and the Court might well rule in favor of the law), but it does appear to be somewhat different from the situation in the ruling. Considering that everybody would concede that Pres. Bush had complete discretion in whether or not to impose the steel tariff, it's hard to phrase his actions as merely computing and implementing a tariff according to the specifications of Congress.

By the way, how did you locate that Supreme Court ruling so quickly? Locating most things on the web is easy, but the normal search engines don't seem all that useful for legal research.

38 posted on 03/19/2002 2:22:40 PM PST by Mitchell
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To: Bogey78O
That'll teach me to post too fast .... mea culpa.
39 posted on 03/19/2002 2:28:48 PM PST by Centurion2000
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To: Mitchell
"Do you know of any Supreme Court rulings on whether one branch of government can choose to abrogate its responsibilities as enumerated in the Constitution? One might make the legal claim that Congress must approve each bill specifically."

The Supreme Court ruling that a presidential line-item veto power would be unconstitutional is an example that is both contemporary and pertinent. The majority of the Justices found that the line-item veto violated the presentment clause of the Constitution, which states that every bill presented to the President shall be approved or disapproved by him. Particularly noteworthy is a quote from Justice Anthony Kennedy: "Liberty is always at stake when one or more of the branches seek to transgress the separation of powers". I share his opinion.

By granting the President the power to levy and control tariffs, I believe Congress has delegated a power specifically reserved to it under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. However, I don't know of any clear precedent that establishes this as unconstitutional, since the Executive Branch has historically been granted broad regulatory power over almost everything specifically reserved to Congress. Therein lies the rub.

I found an article regarding the line-item veto debate on PBS.org that includes a good description by John Cooney, former OMB deputy counsel, of the constitutional issues involved in separation of powers cases. Based on that and other sources, I believe the principle of Congress granting the President tariff authority is marginally constitutional, although it could conceivably be struck down by the Supreme Court, nonetheless.

Either way, I think it is exceedingly unwise legislation, and that this particular case is a good example of just how unwise it is.

Imal

40 posted on 03/19/2002 5:59:22 PM PST by Imal
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