"" Running Rabbit: The Instapundit Offers Yet Another Amazing Idea: A House of Repeal To Weed Out Obsolete Laws

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Instapundit Offers Yet Another Amazing Idea: A House of Repeal To Weed Out Obsolete Laws

I am sure most have heard that there exist arcane Laws, many having to do with issues now irrelevant. Maybe technology passed by the law, rendering it meaningless in these oh so modern times, maybe societal norms have shifted leaving the law inappropriate to current morals or ethical directions. But, they, these old laws so exist, in perpetuity it seems, and a body whose sole function is ridding us of them seems a good idea.

But nobody in Congress sees repealing laws as job No. 1. Well maybe one does, but he's not doing such a great job getting it done. Last year, House Speaker John Boehner said, "We should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We should be judged on how many laws we repeal."
And for that, at least, I have a proposed solution. It's not really my idea, though I fleshed it out a bit in a law review article and a speech at Harvard Law School a while back. If the problem with Congress is that nobody sees repealing laws as job No. 1, why not create a legislative body that can only repeal laws?
The growth of laws and regulation in America has reached the point that pretty much everyone is a felon, whether they know it or not. But nobody in Congress gets much in the way of votes by repealing laws. All the institutional pressures point the other way.

I think is a brilliant notion, (one which Mr. Reynolds makes clear he did not invent, even though I give him credit above). Right now, if we had a government which sought to make an example of a citizen out of spite, they could have said citizen arrested, tried, and likely convicted based on an out of date law which said citizen was completely unaware existed.....not the we need worry about any such government action in this country.

I do see a down side to this body, and it comes from the knowledge that our existing members of Congress are none too sure of what the right thing is all the time, (hardly ever?), and the same political forces which are so active now would doubtlessly provide equal pressures to this new body. An example. Does anyone doubt that one of the first actions one side of the House would take up would be to abolish an any law which specifies that a marriage is between a man and a woman. Any mention of the coordinating sexes pairing up would have to go; leaving it open for the law making House and the Judiciary to render opposition to same sex marriage useless. The same would happen for when life begins and when we have rights, so long fetal protections now extant.

Am I being too cynical? Sure, one side of the House would be there to vote against repeal, but since when can we count on the loyal opposition acting?

I like the concept of reducing restraint on freedom by repealing old law. And, even with the damage some would attempt from the power of such a body I imagine the net benefit would be there. Maybe it would be best if this House did not meet as regularly as the current House and Senate do, say once a decade they show up and clean out the attic? As they do their work there will, theoretically, be less for them to do anyway.

This idea has merit. There is something to work with there.

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