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"Indeed, the rage of theorists to make constitutions a vehicle for the conveyance of their own crude, and visionary aphorisms of government, requires to be guarded against with the most unceasing vigilance."
     -- Joseph Story
     Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States
     Book III, § 1857.
 

Monday, June 02, 2003

More on recruiters' promises and Congressional defalcations. I've been thinking over one of the things said in the comments on the post I mentioned previously:

The Government is a legal personality. To say that no expenditure shall be outlayed but by law exonerates the Government from law suit.
The government is sovereign. It cannot be made a defendant in its own courts without its permission.
The Fed is liable as a defendant..otherwise we have unaccountable government.
And your point is?

That's not my main point, though. I've been contrasting this, in my mind, to some of Eugene Volokh's recent comments over on The Volokh Conspiracy on copyright law, on which subject he is held out as an expert. On the subject of the Studio Schmooze Act, extending the period of copyrights so that Mickey Mouse wouldn't fall into the public domain just yet (one can see how that issue would weigh heavily upon what for the sake of argument I will call the Congressional mind), Volokh several times floated the notion that, having passed the extension, it was beyond Congress's authority to revoke it, since it would amount to the confiscation for public use of a property interest without just compensation. My thought at the time (other than noting Volokh's, shall we say, questionable equivocation upon "public use") was, if Congress did revoke it, there wasn't a damn thing anyone else could do about it. I wonder, though, what Volokh would say about this case. The same chain of reasoning would apply as well to such things as Social Security, should Congress ever encounter the urge to do something about the mess it has made.

-- posted by Clayton 6/02/2003 11:26:00 PM


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