"Texas could soon be in a position to turn the lights off on a federal plan to phase out certain light bulbs.
State lawmakers have passed a bill that allows Texans to skirt federal efforts to promote more efficient light bulbs, which ultimately pushes the swirled, compact fluorescent bulbs over the 100-watt incandescent bulbs many grew up with.
The measure, sent to Gov. Rick Perry for consideration, lets any incandescent light bulb manufactured in Texas - and sold in that state - avoid the authority of the federal government or the repeal of the 2007 energy independence act that starts phasing out some incandescent light bulbs next year."My take on this issue is pretty simple: the federal government has absolutely no constitutional right to regulate energy standards for light bulbs (or any energy policy, for that matter), and the tenth amendment specifically leaves this right to the states. What I am more interested in here is a greater issue - that of context. This quote from the article provides a great example:
"Opponents say the health risks of the mercury are minimal. And they say the bill violates the constitutional clause that states the federal law is the 'supreme law of the land.'"As usual, I have a number of problems with this statement. Let's look at the two big ones:
First, the phrase 'supreme law of the land' is taken out of context. The full text surrounding this phrase (from Article VI) is as follows:
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." (emphases mine)Reading the entire section makes it clear that it is only federal laws made pursuant to the constitution that are supreme. This clause was not meant to mean that the federal government could do any damn thing it wants to. Don't take my word for it, see here for a full transcript of the Constitution.
Second, if this clause did mean that the federal government could do anything that it wanted, then it would have been superseded by the tenth amendment, which restricted federal laws to specifically enumerated powers.
Later in the article, we are treated to these arguments (and I use 'argument' in the loosest sense of the word):
"They say the state can't prevent a light bulb from being taken across a state line, which would make it subject to interstate commerce rules and federal regulation. They also say incandescent bulbs are archaic and have been replaced by fluorescent bulbs that last longer, are more environmentally friendly and don't create the same fire hazards incandescent bulbs do."I have two objections to this comment as well:
First, outlawing something because the state cannot prevent a tangentially related 'crime' amounts to prior restraint. Prior restraint restrictions themselves are illegal. In order to prosecute a crime, it requires that a crime is actually committed, not that it might be. In order to use the Commerce clause, the government would have to make transporting these lightbulbs across state lines illegal, and then prosecute such transportation as a crime (even this is effectively raping the constitution, but whatever. It's not like anyone really cares, right?).
Second, being 'archaic' is not illegal, either in Texas or across the entire Socialist Republic of America, at least last I checked. Seriously, people need to realize that 'unconstitutional' and 'shit I really, really, don't like' are not synonyms.
(Story via Mike Church)