Trump Judge Strikes a Blow for Federalism — for Now

As president, Donald Trump was many things. Limited-government, constitutional conservative was not one of them. He had a non-lawyer populist’s grasp of our fundamental law.

Fortunately, the best thing about Trump’s presidency was his delegation of judicial nominations to actual limited-government conservatives, who were committed to seating constitutionalist judges: originalists who believe the Constitution means what it says, in accordance with what the words were understood to mean when they were ratified. Through the intercession of Mitch McConnell, Trump got 234 of those judges confirmed, including, of course, three on the nation’s highest court. They should be shoring up the Constitution’s limited-government design for decades to come.

At the moment, that means taking aim at one of Trump’s worst excesses — one that was promptly adopted by the Biden administration, and that progressive Democrats hope to expand. It is the imperious notion that the federal government has the power to order landlords to refrain from evicting tenants who don’t pay their rent.

It’s one of those sweeping powers that Big Brother insists it must have to confront the exigencies of COVID-19. Except that, when prodded to tell us about the fine print, federal officials concede that the power they claim is unlimited — not confined to the pandemic, or even to suspending evictions. It is purported, instead, to be a general federal police power to dictate what Americans may do with their property whenever Washington deems it expedient.

In late February, that breathtaking claim ran up against Judge J. Campbell Barker, a 2019 Trump appointee to the U.S. district court in Texas. Judge Barker has torpedoed it, at least for now, as an unconstitutional expansion of the federal government’s authority to regulate interstate commerce. Acknowledging that this authority is capacious, he maintains that it is not boundless — particularly, as Barker sees it, when it comes to transactions that are purely intrastate and whose regulation does even pretend to serve a national economic purpose.

via national review

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