I drive a Dodge Magnum, manufactured by Chrysler, and I therefore have a very personal interst in seeing that Chrysler continues as a viable, operating manufacturer of automobiles and parts. But I also believe in the rule of law and in the principle of limited, specified government powers enshrined in our Constitution. I have been greatly distressed in the months since the administration of President George W. Bush pushed the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) through the Congress last fall. I have become even further troubled by the current administration’s moves to greatly expand federal spending and power through the stimulus package, and by forcing the bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors.
The fact that these unprecedented federal power grabs and spending programs have been rushed through two congresses with almost no discussion about, or concern for their constitutionality, makes matters even worse. Both the Obama Administration and Chrysler, of course, raise the familiar, “the-sky-will-fall” argument as a prod to have the federal courts quickly bless the terms of the forced bankruptcy and sale of a large portion of its assets to Fiat of Italy. The specter of an economic catastrophe is thrown around with the same abandon as did AIG several months ago in pushing for its own multi-billion dollar bail out by the American taxpayers.
Few stop to inquire whether such moves as the TARP and the use of “stimulus funds” by which the federal government partially nationalizes corporations, are properly founded in constitutional law.
This is why I applaud Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for temporarily blocking the Chrysler-Fiat deal in order to at least consider whether it represents a constitutionally-permissible use of taxpayer funds and federal government power. Thanks to three parties in Indiana, which arguably would stand to lose significant monies if their assets and rights were diminshed — as they would be by the government-dictated Chrysler sale to Fiat — the constitutionality of these government actions has at least been put on the table.
Hopefully, the rush to judgment by the Chicken Littles who are dictating much of federal policies these days will not result in the High Court glossing over these important issues that have been raised. The Constitution actually means something — or it did in previous decades in which the federal government was not allowed to do whatever it wanted by simply playing the “national security” card. Perhaps Justice Ginsburg’s action will provide at least a small candle to help us exit the dark constitutional ignorance that has engulfed Washington, DC. in recent years. Go, Justice Ginsburg!