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Michael Ramsey


Is Glenn Reynolds Becoming an Originalist?
Michael Ramsey

My impression is that Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) has been lukewarm at best on originalism in the past (see here, for example), but I've noticed more originalist references in recent writing -- his column in USA Today last week invoked James Madison on federalism, and his follow-up column this week, Are We Living in the Hunger Games?, concludes:

Under the original Constitutional plan, the federal government's powers were to be few, and mostly concerned with external relations. Under those circumstances, the risk of corruption was comparatively low. Nearly all regulation would come from state governments. They might be corrupted -- since they'd be the only ones worth corrupting -- but problems would be compartmentalized (corruption in Rhode Island wouldn't have much effect on Connecticut, much less Utah) and disciplined by competition with other states.

Well, it's been quite a while since things worked that way; things started go go downhill with the federal expansion under the New Deal, and then really took off after the "regulatory explosion" under President Nixon, who created such entities as the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

It's no coincidence that as the federal government morphed from an entity that did a few highly visible things well, to one that did a whole lot of not-so-visible things less well, respect for the federal government plummeted even as the political class' wealth climbed.

That's where we are now, with a capital city that looks more and more like that of an imperial power where courtiers and influence-peddlers abound. Want to do something about it? Don't secede. Return to the Constitution.