The New Royal Prerogative: Philip Hamburger on Administrative Law

Confused by all the talk around Halbig v. Burwell? Rumors abound that this case represents the next big legal challenge to Obamacare, but how do we know it's not just hype surrounding a technicality, as the law's supporters suggest? In Halbig, an IRS interpretation of Obamacare – dubious, but crucial to the law's implementation – was rejected by the courts as an unlawful use of administrative authority. The underlying concern is the ongoing revival of extralegal executive powers – akin to the "Royal Prerogative" of yore – under the banner of "Administrative Law." If the Halbig decision stands, it would represent at least a small win against the growth of executive power. But health care isn't the only area where increasingly absolute executive authority is eroding the checks and balances of our constitutional government. Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger will join the show to clear up the confusion, and to reveal the long historical struggle to constrain extralegal power as told in his fascinating new book, Is Administrative Law Unlawful? 

Have Professional Sports Made Us More Socialist Than Europe?

Why do cities and states fall all over each other to force billions of dollars of subsidies into the pockets of billionaire professional sports team owners? Is it merely that they want to qualify as “major league cities?” Does it make economic sense (answer – of course not) or is it just to enhance the egos of local politicians and enrich local real estate interests? And aren’t the professional sports teams a monopoly, subject to anti-trust regulation? You’d think so. Imagine a retailer having to obtain the permission of Macy’s before opening a store near a Macy’s? In America professional sports leagues have been exempt from anti-trust laws since a 1922 U.S. Supreme Court case held that baseball was not “interstate commerce.” Robbing from the poor (and middle class) to give to the rich. Robin Hood, where are you when we need you? Skip Sauer, Professor of Economics and Chair of The John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University has studied this issue extensively and joins Bob to discuss the subsidizing of professional sports teams by local governments. The politics, the economics, the insanity. It ain’t pretty.

Later, Bob is joined by Mitch Jeserich, host of Pacifica Radio’s Letters & Politics (KPFA in the Bay Area), to discuss the contentious (to say the least) issue of gun control. Are libertarians closer to progressives or to conservatives on this complex issue? The 2nd amendment is only 27 words long, and its three commas have been parsed and parsed for 200 years. What does the Amendment mean? Does it matter? Bob and Mitch will try to sort it out.

America Has Defaulted. Not To Our Creditors, But To Our Kids

Everyone loves rights and no one loves duties. Our founders gave us complete control over our government, yet it was Franklin who famously defined it as “A republic. If you can keep it.” The freedom given by the Constitution is fragile and requires vigilant a watch against encroachment by government.

Yet vigilance is hard work. We must always watch what our representatives are doing and above all be informed. In Washington’s Farewell Address he cautioned that “public opinion should be enlightened.” Bill Damon a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of Failing Liberty 101; How We Are Leaving Young Americans Unprepared by Citizenship in a Free Society, points out that we have failed to instill the civic virtue necessary for our kids to value and to exercise their duties as citizens in a free society. Is it too late? Have we set the stage for the decline and fall of Liberty in America? If future generations do not value liberty and are trained to detect its encroachments, the “shining city on the hill” will go dark.

The Constitution As Scripture

The reading of the text of the Constitution on opening day of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has brought out the smarmy worst of the effete keepers of the Progressive flame.  NY Times’ E J Dionne writes “An examination of the Constitution that views it as something other than the books of Genesis or Leviticus would be good for the country.”  Vanity Fair’s Juli Weiner claims that the reading cost $1,071,872.87.  Washington Post’s Ezra Klein – the Constitution is not a clear document.  This Sunday at noon, Bob will counter all the Constitutional trash talk point by point and give the Constitution’s 4,543 words and the 55 Founders who wrote it the respect they deserve.  The Constitution has given us 224 years of freedom but its under attack.  When Ben Franklin was asked after the Constitution was written what kind of government it provided, he said “A Republic, if you can keep it.”  Join Bob this Sunday at noon to help keep our Republic as it was given to us.

A Libertarian Plan

This Sunday, Bob will be joined by Matt Welch, Editor-In-Chief of Reason Magazine to discuss a Libertarian plan that would totally eliminate the budget deficit without raising taxes. Crucial to this plan is a discussion of Enumerated Powers (a core founding principle which is considered quaint in Washington today).    They will remind the audience of Madison’s great words from Federalist 45 – “The powers delegated . . . to the Federal Government are few and defined.”

Do the Unborn Have Rights?

With six Supreme Court Justices attending Catholic Mass and being sermonized about abortion a week ago, it’s time to visit this issue and all its complex baggage – separation of church and state, Constitutional protection (or not?) of the right to an abortion, criminalization of abortion, rights of the unborn vs. rights of the mother (and father).  It is fascinating and loaded subject.