Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Atrocity Meets the Commerce Clause

federalism, Capital Building, Commerce Clause, federal, law, prosecution

There may be no better example of an evil, real-world villain needing to get justice (good and hard) than the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter. 

Since he survived the shoot-out, he must now be put on trial.

But by whom?

In Allegheny County Court, Pittsburgh police filed a 34-count criminal complaint against the mass murderer. Meanwhile, the federal government has filed its own charges.

“The federal criminal complaint . . . charges him with 29 felonies, including 11 violations of 18 USC 247, which authorizes the death penalty for fatally obstructing any person’s ‘free exercise of religious beliefs,’” summarizes Jacob Sullum at Reason. “Such a crime can be prosecuted in federal court as long as it ‘is in or affects interstate or foreign commerce.’”

Yes, that’s the Constitution’s Commerce Clause being cited. You see, the guns used were — get this — not made in Pennsylvania.

Call it the insanity clause.

“There is no general, overarching federal police power,” Andrew C. McCarthy explains in National Review. “Under the Constitution, the states were supposed to handle virtually all law enforcement, and certainly all enforcement involving offenses committed wholly within their territories — common crimes of violence.”

Why flout this principle? Historian Brion McClanahan says the Republicans, in this case, just cannot help themselves — posing as the “law and order” party, they feel the need to be seen to “do something.” So Attorney General Jeff Sessions tortures the Constitution to intervene where the federal government does not belong.

Not only is the State of Pennsylvania constitutionally authorized to handle the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, it is more than competent to do so.

The federal government should, for once, stick to its own constitutional business.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


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By: Redactor


  1. Ken says:

    OTOH, If the murder had never once in his life traveled outside of Pennsylvania and the guns used and all their component parts had been made in Pennsylvania, that still wouldn’t have imposed an obstacle to the federal government claiming jurisdiction. Using guns made in Pennsylvania would still have affected interstate commerce, since they would have taken the place of guns that might have been obtained from another state. At least that’s the judicial “reasoning” used in Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942), a decision that’s still on the books and has never been overturned. Stick that in your “stare decisis” and smoke it.

  2. Pat says:

    Didn’t the shooter BUY his guns in PA?  If so, then there is nothing affecting tnterstate or foreign commerce.   The federal government’s reasoning would suggest that any crime committed in a car would come under the jurisdiction of the feds, since most cars aren’t manufactured in the state in which they are bought or driven.   Probably two thirds of the federal criminal code can be repealed, but then what would bureaucrats do?  How would they make a living?

  3. Mike says:

    This is one time I am glad to see the federal government butt into Pennsylvania’s affairs. Our esteemed governor, Tom Wolf, declared a moratorium on the death penalthh. He needed have bothered, there has not been an execution in our state in decades. We have had at least one condemned killer die from illness while awaiting execution, as none of our governors have had the courage to sign death warrants for over 49 years.. I think the feds will actually impose whatever sentence the court imposes.

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