Saturday, September 27, 2003

Hurray for federal judges

I have found a couple of court decisions this week to be quite a breath of fresh air.

These decisions are those handed down by the two federal judges who blocked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission national "do-not-call" registry on constitutional grounds. I hope that they have the fortitude to stick to their guns against the fury of a Congress and people scorned.

I am a bit surprised to find myself so pleased about these decisions, as I am generally no fan of federal judicial activism and usurpation of legislative responsibilities, and I certainly do not enjoy unwanted telemarketer phone calls, but this is exactly the type of ruling against well-meaning, but unconstitutional, federal legislation of which we are so sorely in need these days.

I have skimmed through the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights a few times, and I am sure that there is no enumerated federal power to protect the U.S. people against interruption at the supper table by telemarketers. The 10th Amendment says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

Clearly this is one of the many areas reserved to the states or to the people by its lack of specific mention in the Constitution.

Fortunately, my home state of Indiana has recently passed a fine state law implementing a "do not call" list. This is the appropriate level for this sort of legislation to be passed, if it is to be passed at all.

Personally, I have been quite pleased for the last several years with a private free-market solution to this problem, requiring no governmental legislation at all. We have an answering machine. Coupled with call-waiting service from the phone company, and the facts that telemarketers almost always block their outgoing phone number, and that they nearly always hang up when reaching an answering machine, we hardly ever find it necessary to speak with a telemarketer at all, without having to use the answering machine to screen calls from people we know.

Now, if only we could get the federal judiciary to start blocking the other 90 percent or so of federal laws and regulations for which there is no justification in the Constitution.