Mike Lee

Mike Lee: 'Every Conceivable Partisan Combination' Has 'Deviated From' Federalism

"This isn't a partisan issue," the Utah senator says. "This is a constitutional issue."

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JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS/Newscom

Sen. Mike Lee (R–Utah) said today that under both Republicans and Democrats, the United States has "deviated from" the principles of federalism and separation of powers.

In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the Utah senator did suggest that things have gotten better since Barack Obama left the presidency. But he still thought there was plenty of blame to go around. Praising both "the vertical protection of federalism that keeps most of the power close to the people at the state and local level" and "the horizontal protection of separation of powers that says we're going to have one branch that makes the laws, another branch that enforces them, and yet another branch that interprets them," Lee warned that America has "deviated from both of those principles under the leadership of Houses of Representatives, of Senates, and White Houses of every conceivable partisan combination."

Lee took particular issue with Obama, noting his actions regarding U.S. involvement in Libya and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Lee didn't single out Donald Trump's attempt to use a national emergency declaration to build a wall on the U.S.–Mexico border. He did point out that Democrats blasting Trump's move on constitutional grounds, such House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) and Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.), did not similarly criticize Obama.

"This isn't a partisan issue," Lee said. "This is a constitutional issue, and it is an absolute imperative for our freedom."

Lee has previously said he believes Trump's national emergency declaration is likely legal. "Whether or not it should be legal is a different matter," he said in a statement earlier this month. "Congress has been ceding far too much power to the exec. branch for decades. We should use this moment as an opportunity to start taking that power back."

Bonus link: In July, Lee spoke with Reason's Matt Welch on a variety of topics, including congressional dysfunction:

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  1. Sen. Mike Lee (R?Utah) said today that under both Republicans and Democrats, the United States has “deviated from” the principles of federalism and separation of powers.

    And then he said that Ellen Degeneres is gay!

    1. Did he mention that water is wet?

  2. Oh God, I clicked on the video and saw Matt Welch.

    TL;DW

  3. “Lee warned that America has “deviated from both of those principles under the leadership of Houses of Representatives, of Senates, and White Houses of every conceivable partisan combination.”

    Well, given that the purpose of the Constitution is to limit the power of government, what would you expect? It only works as intended if we make it so. Every f’n day.

    1. Conservatives don’t actually care about limiting power they just prefer to exercise it through the states.

      1. Poor Ordinary doesn’t understand how our Constitutional Democratic Republic works.

        State have more police powers than the federal government but even states are limited by their Constitutions and US Constitutional supremacy.

  4. The problem is not bad laws, it’s bad politicians. Fortunately this can be solved by importing more immigrants and giving them voting rights so they can elect good and compassionate people like AOC and Rashida Tlaib. They can teach us generosity so everyone can get the antibiotics they need to stay alive. #allwallsfall

    1. Don’t forget the children. They will vote the correct way.

    2. The problem is actually bad incentives. The Constitution as originally written worked moderately well, because it had a well thought out system of incentives. (Though they missed the inevitability of political parties.)

      When the 17th amendment came along, though, that seriously screwed things up, by depriving state legislatures of even the threat of removing Senators. Suddenly they were exclusively federal officers, with no reason to be concerned about maintaining the balance of power between states and federal government.

      Now all federal office holders are only concerned about maintaining the power of the federal government, and the federal judiciary is chosen by them.

      The only way to fix it would be to somehow restore the old incentives, but that’s going to require both a constitutional convention, and delegates who understood what broke it in the first place.

      1. +1000

  5. Look at the comments on this article so far. Most are making jokes, and the rest are trying to buttress the “Republicans are as bad as Democrats!” narrative as best they can, using particularly weak arguments.

    Such is the response of the libertarian to the undeniable fact that no Democrat would ever say something so aligned with libertarian principle as Republicans regularly do.

    The emotional need of the libertarian to be no closer to one “side” than the other trumps libertarian principle every time. This is why libertarians never win.

    1. While Senator Mike Lee is right about the move away from federalism, due represented a company that tried to use the Commerce Clause to force Utahans to accept Italian nuclear waste.

      As an attorney, Lee also represented Class A low-level radioactive waste facility provider EnergySolutions Inc. in a highly publicized dispute between the company and the Utah public and public officials that caused controversy during his Senate election. Utah’s government had allowed the company to store radioactive waste in the state so long as it was low-grade “Class A” material. When the company arranged to store waste from Italy, many objected to the waste being foreign and that it could potentially be more radioactive than permitted. Lee argued that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution allowed the company to accept foreign waste and that the waste could be reduced in grade by mixing it with lower grade materials, while the government of Utah sought to ban the importation of foreign waste using an interstate radioactive waste compact. EnergySolutions eventually abandoned its plans to store Italian radioactive waste in Utah, ending the dispute, with the 10th U.S. Circuit court later ruling that the compact had the power to block foreign radioactive waste from being stored in Utah

      1. Mike Lee also helped draft the AHCA. There is no Constitutional authority for forcing healthcare or health insurance on Americans. The Libertarian plan would be American pay cash for minor medical and have catastrophic health insurance for major medical stuff.

        Fuck Mike Lee and his supposed Libertarian leanings. He’s a Republican.

      2. “Lee argued that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution allowed the company to accept foreign waste ”

        America as radioactive dumping ground to the world. “Muh Liberty”.

    2. Most are making jokes

      If it weren’t for the jokes, I’d kill myself.

    3. And yet they sat back and watched as President Trump taxed me by exexutive order. Fuck em and their speeches. I’ll believe repubs when their actions match the rhetoric.

  6. “This isn’t a partisan issue,” Lee said.


    Lee took particular issue with Obama, noting his actions regarding U.S. involvement in Libya and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Lee didn’t single out Donald Trump’s attempt to use a national emergency declaration to build a wall on the U.S.?Mexico border. He did point out that Democrats blasting Trump’s move on constitutional grounds, such House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D?Calif.) and Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D?N.Y.), did not similarly criticize Obama.
    .

    Why are politicians chronically unaware of irony?

  7. In a speech about executive overreach, why would Lee reference Trump’s emergency declaration (which is perfectly legal regardless of what you think about the law) with Obama’s actually illegal, unconstitutional executive orders?

    1. Both sides!

  8. Well, he’s not getting invited to any more Trump parties!

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