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Jewish World Review Feb. 1, 2001/ 9 Shevat, 5761

Larry Elder

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Barney Frank discovers the Tenth Amendment

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- PUT UP or shut up, Mr. Cheney. About same-sex marriages, that is.

Liberal Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., issued this challenge to the vice president. When asked about same-sex marriages in his campaign debate with Joe Lieberman, Cheney said, "People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into ... I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area."

Fine, says Frank, then repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, a measure passed in 1996, in which the federal government defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Frank said, "I realize it's very unlikely this (will be signed into law). We shouldn't allow people to get away with lip service. If he means it, it's helpful to say, 'Do this legislation,' to take what (he said) and give it real meat."

The Defense of Marriage Act enables any state to refuse to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages if another state legally permits them. President Clinton signed the bill with this statement, "I have long opposed governmental recognition of same-gender marriages, and this legislation is consistent with that position."

Rep. Frank, quoting Cheney, feels each state should determine its own definition of marriage.

What!? Does this mean that Rep. Frank now embraces the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution? This "Reservation Clause" says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This means that if the Constitution does not specifically allow the federal government to do something -- it can't. Everything else remains "reserved" to and for the states. So, Mr. Frank, why stop at the Defense of Marriage Act?

And somebody please show President Bush a copy of the Tenth Amendment. For, in his first radio address, President Bush suggested using federal Title I money to allow students to escape under-performing public schools. The Title I program began in 1965, with the goal of closing the performance gaps between suburban and urban schools. Over 30 years and $120 billion later, the performance gap between urban and suburban schools not only failed to narrow, but expanded! What authority entitles the federal government to involve itself in education, a state and local function?

Ditto for the D.A.R.E. and Head Start programs, which use federal taxpayers' money for schools. Again, that the programs do not succeed is one thing, but they serve as yet another federal invasion on state and local turf.

When President Bush cut off taxpayers' money to international groups that counsel abortion, he said, "It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion either here or abroad." The government should send dollars outside of the country only in pursuit of legitimate national security interests. But doesn't non-defense foreign aid actually help the recipients? Not according to the Cato Institute and JWR columnist Doug Bandow, " ... Since World War II, the United States alone has provided $1 trillion (in current dollars) in foreign aid to countries around the world. The result? According to the United Nations, 70 countries, aid recipients all, are poorer today than in 1980. An incredible 43 are worse off than in 1970."

The federal government also steps on the Tenth Amendment by building "public housing." Hasn't public housing at least assisted low-income people who otherwise have nowhere to turn? Not according to economist and JWR columnist Thomas Sowell, who questions the need to "maintain livable housing in the urban core ... where even bad housing is very expensive," and notes that "people could ... move out of high-rent cities into communities where the same or better housing is often available at less than half the rent. But that would require people to adjust to reality, instead of continuing to have their expensive choices subsidized by the taxpayers."

More federal intrusions? Federal gun laws, federal hate crime legislation, minimum wage laws, Social Security, Medicare, federal energy policy, nationally funded student loans, farm subsidies, federal regulations of businesses -- all violations of the Tenth Amendment.

But wait, doesn't the General Welfare Clause of the Constitution allow the federal government to do that which "promotes the general welfare"? No. James Madison, the father of the Constitution, specifically addressed that question, "With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers (enumerated in the Constitution) connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."

So, Congressman Frank, we agree, "We shouldn't allow people to get away with lip service."

From Dick Cheney, or from you.


JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of the newly released, The Ten Things You Can't Say in America. (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.

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