Thursday, March 18, 2021

Will Life After COVID-19 Be Normal?; Trump Judge Strikes a Blow for Federalism — for Now

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Will Life After COVID-19 Be Normal?
Can the federal government ban evictions? Seems like a pretty straightforward question. But the answer touches on a deeper one, as yet unsettled: Will life after COVID-19 be normal?
Consider what a federal judge said recently when he struck down a Centers for Disease Control ban on evictions, which the Trump administration instituted last year and the Biden administration extended: “Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution.”
The court’s ruling in Terkel v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds us that a public health emergency declaration does not grant the government unlimited authority to regulate private behavior. Whether or not banning evictions is good policy, the government can’t exercise power without constitutional warrant, something many public officials appear to have forgotten since the pandemic struck.
Last March, Congress enacted a 120-day ban on evictions of “covered persons” (couples with incomes of less than $198,000) living in “covered properties,” defined as those participating in specified federal programs or financed through federally backed loans.
Landlords who violate the order are subject to penalties of up to one year of imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000. --->READ MORE HERE
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Trump Judge Strikes a Blow for Federalism — for Now:
If only we could be confident that the higher courts will agree with Judge Barker’s conclusion that, ‘Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution.’
As president, Donald Trump was many things. Limited-government, constitutional conservative was not one of them. He had a non-lawyer populist’s grasp of our fundamental law.
Fortunately, the best thing about Trump’s presidency was his delegation of judicial nominations to actual limited-government conservatives, who were committed to seating constitutionalist judges: originalists who believe the Constitution means what it says, in accordance with what the words were understood to mean when they were ratified. Through the intercession of Mitch McConnell, Trump got 234 of those judges confirmed, including, of course, three on the nation’s highest court. They should be shoring up the Constitution’s limited-government design for decades to come.
At the moment, that means taking aim at one of Trump’s worst excesses — one that was promptly adopted by the Biden administration, and that progressive Democrats hope to expand. It is the imperious notion that the federal government has the power to order landlords to refrain from evicting tenants who don’t pay their rent.
It’s one of those sweeping powers that Big Brother insists it must have to confront the exigencies of COVID-19. Except that, when prodded to tell us about the fine print, federal officials concede that the power they claim is unlimited — not confined to the pandemic, or even to suspending evictions. It is purported, instead, to be a general federal police power to dictate what Americans may do with their property whenever Washington deems it expedient.
In late February, that breathtaking claim ran up against Judge J. Campbell Barker, a 2019 Trump appointee to the U.S. district court in Texas. Judge Barker has torpedoed it, at least for now, as an unconstitutional expansion of the federal government’s authority to regulate interstate commerce. Acknowledging that this authority is capacious, he maintains that it is not boundless — particularly, as Barker sees it, when it comes to transactions that are purely intrastate and whose regulation does even pretend to serve a national economic purpose. --->READ MORE from Andrew C. McCarthy HERE
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