Somin in USA Today: Pushing the Limits of Federal Power

In an op-ed appearing in USA TODAY, Professor Ilya Somin writes that Constitutional restrictions on federal authority exist to protect our lives, liberty, and property against the power of the government; but if we want to enforce constitutional limits on government, we cannot rely on judges to do the job alone.

"Bush and Obama exemplify a political culture where presidents routinely push the limits of federal power with little regard for constitutional restrictions," says Somin. "Too often, executives act as if their role is not to protect constitutional rights but rather to see how far they can bend them before courts step in."

"Voters rarely punish this kind of overreaching, and journalists often seem to regard it as a normal part of the political process," Somin notes. "The fault lies not only with the offending politicians, but also with the voters and political elites who too often excuse or ignore their unconstitutional actions."

Supreme Court shutouts reveal reckless decisions, USA TODAY, July 22, 2013. By Ilya Somin.

Those of us who follow Supreme Court decisions spend most of our time debating the contentious issues that divide justices 5-4 along predictable ideological lines. Often, that's where the loudest public debates are as well. Just consider the recent rulings on gay marriage.

"But we might do well to pay more attention where the court rules unanimously, particularly when they go against the White House.

"When a president pursues policies that require such expansive federal power that he can't get a single justice to agree, something is probably amiss.

"Such overreach, though, has become a part of our political culture. Administrations of both parties are often unwilling to accept constitutional limits on their authority".

Read the article