The Paul Detainment and Metastasizing Executive Power: Another Progressive Triumph
by William L. Anderson
One only had to wonder how long it would take before there would be open confrontation between a member of Congress and the TSA, and it finally happened with the detainment (and that is what it was) of Rand Paul in Nashville on Monday. That was bad enough, but when one takes into account the larger picture of separation of powers, it is even worse.
Many years ago, I asked then-Tennessee U.S. Senator Jim Sasser in a public forum why Congress did not have to obey the laws it imposes on the rest of us. Sasser, unfortunately, answered by saying that the Senate was full of the greatest people he ever had known, which was not a real answer, but neither was Sasser exactly a bright bulb of knowledge. To him, the whole thing was a power play, and he had power, and I didn’t.
Except that Sasser unknowingly had a very important principle on his side, the separation of powers as listed in the U.S. Constitution. (I have to thank Lew Rockwell for pointing out this issue to me, and I admit it opened my eyes to a lot of things regarding the law and the growth of executive power.)
The founders of the United States had laid out three branches of the central government, and also had constructed legal walls between the central government and the states, all known as “separation of powers.” There were to be limits upon the powers of people in those entities, and in the case of Congress and the executive branch, one of the provisions was the prohibition upon detaining members of Congress on their way to legislative sessions. As Mac Slavo has written, this provision existed to keep political rivals, be they in legislative, state or the executive branches, from using arrests as political tools to prevent legislators from voting.