On Jan. 10, in this space, attorney Bill Black proposed that our new U.S. senator, Kelly Loeffler, introduce national gang prosecution legislation in order to “message” conservatives that she is serious about fighting gang crimes. This is the sort of knee-jerk reaction we don’t need to problems that are best handled by state and local authorities.
If Loeffler does introduce such legislation, she will be messaging constitutional conservatives that she does not understand the Constitution.
Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution contains what are called the “enumerated powers.” In its 18 articles, I can count just 24 delegations of authority—areas in which Congress has been given the power to legislate. Local criminal justice law is not an area in which Congress has been granted any authority.
I’m well aware that Congress has overstepped the bounds of Article I, Section 8, many times. But every time it does so, the ability of the citizens to act through their state and local governments is diminished, and so is individual liberty.
I encourage everyone to read the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution:
“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.”
If Loeffler introduced a national gang prosecution bill, she would be demonstrating that she disregards constitutional restraints on the federal government and believes the answers to our problems, such as gang violence, are to be found in another bill from Washington, D.C. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The real solutions to such difficult problems are figured out by those who understand the problems and deal with them every day. This is exactly the approach that Gov. Kemp has taken with the gang problem. He has enlisted law enforcement professionals who know our state, including folks with real experience prosecuting gang crimes, such as Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds. We don’t need another law from Washington to tie our hands or another Washington bureaucrat telling us what to do. We are smart enough to figure this out on our own.
Our founding fathers understood this. That is why they believed most matters of government should be handled at the state and local levels. It was not until the Progressives came on the scene in the early 1900’s and rejected our founding principles that so much power began to be concentrated in our nation’s capital. And a lot of things have gone downhill since we embraced the liberty-killing ideas of the Progressives and the administrative state they substituted for our constitutional republic.
So please, Sen. Loeffler, reject this suggestion from Mr. Black. It wouldn’t be sending conservatives a message you would want to send.
Jim Jess is Chairman of Franklin Roundtable (formerly Georgia Tea Party) and President of the Foundation for Constitutional Education.