Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Having the Constitution for Lunch

Don Boudreaux:
"I'm aware that what I'm about to ask is the intellectual equivalent of taking your date to a monster-truck rally -- that is, sure evidence of low-brow benightednes and crude sensibilities -- but on what Constitutional basis does the national government in the United States regulate the contents of school lunches?

That Uncle Sam does regulate school-lunch contents is beyond question. See this report in today's New York Times informing us that 'A bipartisan group in Congress plans to introduce legislation today that would prohibit the sale in school not only of French fries but also of other fatty or sugary foods, including soft drinks.'

Put aside all questions of the desirability of such legislation and ask 'Is this legislation Constitutional?'

I've read the U.S. Constitution several times, and nowhere -- not remotely, not even as a penumbra emanating from its text -- does it give to the national government the power to regulate the contents of school lunches. And yet, such a fact inspires no apparent hesitation in the typical member of Congress to regulate in this way."
I think this is an accurate assessment of the Constitution. Unfortunately, it is not just the typical member of Congress that thinks Congress has the power to impose such regulations. More importantly, far too many members of the judiciary seem not to have a copy of the Constitution that looks like the one Boudreaux and I have.

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