The sublime irony of having Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) not only participate in a reading of the Constitution, but be assigned Article I, Section 1, seems to have been lost on those who attended the first-ever reading of the august text in the House of Representatives this morning.
This, after all, is the same Nancy Pelosi who gave us gave us the now infamous “Are you serious? Are you serious?” in response to a reporter who had the nerve to ask her which part of the Constitution authorized Congress to compel individuals to purchase health insurance.
It’s also the same former speaker of the House who pushed through, by tooth and claw, the legislative monstrosity known as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”—a law, if one can call it that, that creates dozens upon dozens of federal agencies to whom the task of drafting regulations—i.e. legislating— is delegated.
This explains Pelosi’s other infamous utterance on Obamacare: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” We need to wait for the bureaucrats—unelected, unknown, and unaccountable—to fill in the blanks by crafting the actual regulations that will make up the law.
Yet the very first clause of the Constitution, which the new House Minority Leader read this morning, says: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
As the Honorable Douglas Ginsburg explains in a new Heritage essay on the meaning of that clause, fittingly entitled Legislative Powers: Not Yours to Give Away: “the principle of non-delegation is fundamental to the idea of a limited government accountable to the people.”
Not only are delegations of legislative powers to agencies unconstitutional, but “Congress may exercise only those legislative powers ‘herein granted.’” And should anyone have missed the point, the Tenth Amendment drives it home once again: “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.”
If the Senate ever takes up the reading of the Constitution, maybe Harry Reid (D-NV) could be assigned the Tenth Amendment.