On a good day, in an era when most Americans still read their local newspapers, it was always nice to receive good news along side the depressing stories. The news business may have changed, but the cultural disposition still remains.
This morning reports are mixed. On the positive side of the ledger, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the EPA’s newest water regulation. For liberty loving Americans the question is not about dirty water – no thinking American cheers dirty water. Instead, the very real concern is that the EPA will take on the regulation of absurdly small bits of water across the United States. And as a result, modest properties with small steams will be regulated from Washington DC. Hopefully the Sixth Circuit, and eventually the US Supreme Court, will unequivocally halt the EPA’s movement in this direction.
Better yet, the state of California has given limited government aficionados a reason to smile this morning. The legislature passed, and Governor Brown accepted, a new law that is designed to protect the electronic privacy of Californians. Ideally, many other states will soon follow suit.
Congress should also take a cue from California. Federal privacy laws are outdated and weak; rogue liberty-minded Republicans need to work with freedom-loving Democrats to pass substantial electronic privacy reforms. Inattention will only precipitate a loss of privacy and needless litigation.
Unfortunately a breeze through the back-page news wouldn’t be complete without a troubling report. Apparently, but not surprisingly, the President is considering tighter federal restrictions on person-to-person firearm sales. Admittedly this is not a particularly onerous requirement for someone who lives in a fairly populated area. Nevertheless, gun owners of all political affiliations should take exception to the President’s underlying assumption: informal firearm sales must bend to the Chief Executive’s prerogative.
Alexander Hamilton, an avowed 18th century proponent of expansive federal powers, famously contended that the Constitution was not designed to address “every species of personal and private concerns.” Times have certainly changed, but a President’s narrow-minded agenda is still no excuse for executive actions that undermine America’s proud history of limited federal interference in an individual’s private life.
America’s founders thoughtfully designed a Constitution that sought to avoid an unbalanced and overpowering federal government. If the President uses a formal decree (e.g. executive order) to tighten federal regulations on the ad hoc sale of multiple firearms from a personal collection, his actions will rightly be seen as an anti-democratic abuse of power. Horrible events do not justify wrong decisions.