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Tenth Amendment Center explains founders approved of judicial review of bad law

Photo of a painting of Alexander Hamilton, Founding Father who was the first U.S. Treasury Secretary and one of the first constitutional lawyers. Hamilton saw judicial review as an essential pillar in protecting limitations set forth in the Constitution. (Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection)The Tenth Amendment Center tackled the issue of judicial review— whether our country’s founders “expected the courts to void laws they found unconstitutional.”

Rob Natelson, constitutional scholar, author and former law professor, explains the history of the practice including something most people don’t know.

Before the recent abundant discussions of Marbury vs.Madison (1803), Natelson said,“ [T]here were over thirty episodes in which American courts voided state or federal laws for unconstitutionality.”

Natelson also points out that one misunderstanding stems from the founders’ rejection of the body called a council of revision. That process gave a review panel of executive and judicial officers veto power over a proposed law.

Natelson explains it all and handily persuades us there’s no reason to question the validity of judicial disposition of an unconstitutional law. He provides some interesting historic notes about the men who created, after much debate and angst, the document that makes the U.S. what it is. Without that document, we would no  longer be the country we are.

For instance, in my opinion, many laws are unconstitutional—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare (a number of violation points for that behemoth), the National Defense Authorization Act (we should all be picketing with signs on that one) and any legislation that creates unbalanced rights for one above another. Those are just for starters. We could probably build a case for the illegality of at least 50 percent of our federal laws and I am being extremely conservative on that stat.

If you don’t read at The Tenth Amendment Center blog, you should. The group does great work and keeps us informed about the proper role of the federal government and the value of personal liberty. The center is one group I donate to when I can, and I know they’d be appreciative of anything willing supporters might send.

The founders knew bad laws would come forth and they put forth a solution we should respect. That way we keep our heads in more ways than one.

(Kay B. Day/April 19, 2012)

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