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1999 Ron Paul Chapter 9

Federal Communications Commission

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25 February 1999


1999 Ron Paul 9:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 514, and in support of the Wilson amendment. The passage of this legislation will, as does so much of the legislation we pass, move our nation yet another step close to a national police state by further expanding a federal crime and empowering more federal police—this time at the Federal Communications Commission. Despite recent and stern warnings by both former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese III and current U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Congress seems compelled to ride the current wave of federally criminalizing every human misdeed in the name of saving the world from some evil rather than to uphold a Constitutional oath which prescribes a procedural structure by which the nation is protected from totalitarianism.

1999 Ron Paul 9:2
Our federal government is, constitutionally, a government of limited powers. Article one, Section eight, enumerates the legislative areas for which the U.S. Congress is allowed to act or enact legislation. For every issue, the federal government lacks any authority or consent of the governed and only the state governments, their designees, or the people in their private market actions enjoy such rights to governance. The tenth amendment is brutally clear in stating “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.” Our nation’s history makes clear that the U.S. Constitution is a document intended to limit the power of central government. No serious reading of historical events surrounding the creation of the Constitution could reasonably portray it differently. Of course, there will be those who will hand their constitutional “hats” on the interstate commerce or general welfare clauses, both of which have been popular “headgear” since the plunge into New Deal Socialism.

1999 Ron Paul 9:3
Perhaps, more dangerous is the loss of another Constitutional protection which comes with the passage of more and more federal criminal legislation. Constitutionally, there are only three federal crimes. These are treason against the United States, piracy on the high seas, and counterfeiting (and, as mentioned above, for a short period of history, the manufacture, sale, or transport of alcohol was concurrently a federal and state crime). “Concurrent” jurisdiction crimes, such as alcohol prohibition in the past and eavesdropping today, erode the right of citizens to be free of double jeopardy. The fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifies that no “person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . .” In other words, no person shall be tried twice for the same offense. However, in United States v. Lanza, the high court in 1922 sustained a ruling that being tried by both the federal government and a state government for the same offense did not offend the doctrine of double jeopardy. One danger of unconstitutionally expanding the federal justice code is that it seriously increases the danger that one will be subject to being tried twice for the same crime. Despite the various pleas for federal correction of societal wrongs, a national police force is neither prudent nor constitutional.

1999 Ron Paul 9:4
The argument which springs from the criticism of a federalized criminal code and a federal police force is that states may be less effective than a centralized federal government in dealing with those who leave one state jurisdiction for another. Fortunately, the Constitution provides for the procedural means for preserving the integrity of state sovereignty over those issues delegated to it via the tenth amendment. Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2 makes provision for the rendition of fugitives from one state to another. While not self-enacting, in 1783 Congress passed an act which did exactly this. There is, of course, a cost imposed upon states in working with one another rather than relying on a national, unified police force. At the same time, there is a greater cost to centralization of police power.

1999 Ron Paul 9:5
It is important to be reminded of the benefits of federalism as well as the costs. There are sound reasons to maintain a system of smaller, independent jurisdictions—it is called competition and governments must, for the sake of the citizenry, be allowed to compete. We have obsessed so much over the notion of “competition” in this country we harangue someone like Bill Gates when, by offering superior products to every other similarly-situated entity, he becomes the dominant provider of certain computer products. Rather than allow someone who serves to provide values as made obvious by their voluntary exchanges in the free market, we lambaste efficiency and economies of scale in the private marketplace. Yet, at the same time, we further centralize government, the ultimate monopoly and one empowered by force rather than voluntary exchange.

1999 Ron Paul 9:6
As government becomes more centralized, it becomes much more difficult to vote with one’s feet to escape the relatively more oppressive governments. Governmental units must remain small with ample opportunity for citizen mobility both to efficient governments and away from those which tend to be oppressive. Centralization of criminal law makes such mobility less and less practical.

1999 Ron Paul 9:7
For each of these reasons, among others, I must oppose the further and unconstitutional centralization of police power in the national government and, accordingly, H.R. 514.
Notes:

1999 Ron Paul 9:2 The tenth amendment probably should be capitalized: The Tenth Amendment.

1999 Ron Paul 9:2 those who will hand their constitutional “hats” probably should be those who will hang their constitutional “hats” as it is rendered in 1998 Ron Paul 50:2

1999 Ron Paul 9:3 (and, as mentioned above, for a short period of history, the manufacture, sale, or transport of alcohol was concurrently a federal and state crime) Here, Ron Paul is caught red-handed importing text from a previous statement, as there is no mention above of Prohibition. The text comes from 1998 Ron Paul 50:7 but Prohibition was mentioned earlier in that chapter, at 1998 Ron Paul 50:5.

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