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Sen. Mike Lee on “Our Lost Constitution”

April 16, 2015 —

As Georgetown Law Professor Randy Barnett has remarked, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) knows how to tell a story — and he’s also a lawyer. So when Lee came to the Law Center on April 8 to discuss his new book, he found an appreciative audience.

Lee’s book, Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document (Sentinel, 2015), tells some of the stories behind the Legislative Vesting Clause, the Origination Clause, the Commerce Clause and more. Many abuses of federal power today, Lee argues, stem from the fact that these provisions are being lost or neglected. 

“All of us, as U.S. citizens, have certain things that are ours by virtue of who we are, where we live, our citizenship,” Lee said. “Certain rights guaranteed us by our Constitution, unless properly invoked and aggressively defended, will cease to be meaningful.”

Discussing the Legislative Vesting Clause, which delegates all federal legislative powers in the U.S. Congress, Lee pointed out that most law today is not made by elected officials (think administrative agencies). While Congress’s lawmaking last year amounts to a few hundred pages, the Federal Register amounts to many thousand. “Congress has gotten addicted to outsourcing,” he said.

In a question-and-answer session that followed, students quizzed the senator on such subjects as the 2016 presidential race (he has endorsed no candidate so far, but noted that three of his best friends are running for president). They also questioned whether the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, is also being lost; Lee responded that he finds the collection of data by the National Security Agency "troubling" at least. “The fact that it’s just metadata doesn’t mean it’s not bad for them to collect [it],” Lee said.

The event was sponsored by the Georgetown Center for the Constitution and moderated by Barnett, the Center’s director. 

 

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