Pretended Legislation Must Be Resisted
by Michael Peroutka, the Institute on the Constitution
The Constitution lists 18 specific legislative powers of Congress. If Congress tries to legislate in areas that are not covered by this limited list, such attempts to legislate are null and void.
The Declaration of Independence refers to such vain actions as “pretended legislation.”
Today, almost all of the enactments of Congress, and almost everything ordered by the President’s Executive Orders, fall into this category. Today we have a lot of “pretended legislation.”
For example, none of the powers delegated to Congress covers Social Security, or Medicaid, or Medicare, or federal aid to education. Likewise all farm subsidies, all research grants, all subsidies to the arts and humanities, and all publicly financed radio and television programming are not covered. This is also true of all public works projects and all the countless regulations on large and small businesses.
“But Michael,” you say, “The Supreme Court has approved all these things at one time or another. Doesn’t that make them lawful?”
The answer, of course, is “No.”
The court is NOT the ultimate arbiter of the limits of federal power. The Courts are not over the Constitution. The Constitution is over the courts. And those who have sworn a duty to uphold it, such as sheriffs and peace officers, are duty-bound to resist the unlawful pronouncements of courts and congresses, and to protect their citizens from “pretended legislation.”