Most of us know that when then-Speaker Pelosi was asked where the Constitution gives Congress the power to enact an “individual mandate,” she replied with a mocking “are you serious? Are you serious?”
Here are a few more pearls of constitutional wisdom from our elected representatives.
Rep. Conyers cited the “Good and Welfare Clause” as the source of Congress’s authority [there is no such clause].
Rep. Stark responded, “the federal government can do most anything in this country.”
Rep. Clyburn replied, “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do. How about [you] show me where in the Constitution it prohibits the federal government from doing this?”
Rep. Hare said “I don’t worry about the Constitution on this, to be honest […] It doesn’t matter to me.” When asked, “Where in the Constitution does it give you the authority …?” He replied, “I don’t know.”
Sen. Akaka said he “not aware” of which Constitutional provision authorizes the healthcare bill.
Sen. Leahy added, “We have plenty of authority. Are you saying there’s no authority?”
Sen. Landrieu told a questioner, “I’ll leave that up to the constitutional lawyers on our staff.”
Something to keep in mind when someone argues that the Supreme Court should defer to the constitutional wisdom of its coequal branches.
UPDATE: Links to sources for each quotation added. Also, the point is not that leading Democratic politicians are especially ignorant or dismissive of the constitutional bases for what they do. I doubt Republicans would do better. The point is, as suggested above, that this ignorance/dismissiveness undermines the argument that the Supreme Court should defer to Congress as a co-equal branch making independent constitutional determinations. For such deference to make sense, members of Congress have to actually be making such determinations.