Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act came in for yet another media panning this week when the Washington Times ran an article by Bruce Fein of the Liberty Perspective.
Attacking Chaffetz’s claim that the commerce clause in the US Constitution justifies federal interference in states’ rights to control gambling activity within their borders, Fein reminds lawmakers that the clause was originally adopted to prevent protectionist trade wars among the states, which at that time was impacting national prosperity.
“Thus, the clause empowers Congress to “regulate” interstate commerce, not to prohibit it.,” Fein points out. “No wealth is produced by blocking a transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller. A national online gambling prohibition does not promote interstate commerce. It frustrates it.
“The power to regulate interstate commerce was an addition to the powers the federal government exercised under the Articles of Confederation. It was not intended as an instrument to supersede customary state powers over public morals or otherwise.”
Giving the liquor prohibitions in the nineteen twenties as an example, Fein notes that an amendment to the US Constitution – only the eighteenth in the history of the Republic – was required to impose a federal ban across all states, which ultimately was not successful and had to be abandoned by passing the 21st Amendment in 1933.
Fein is additionally critical of Rep. Chaffetz for his use of the hypothetical “terrorist funding” card in trying to persuade lawmakers to support RAWA.
“Having failed with a morality card, Mr. Chaffetz threw a terrorism card on the table during a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week,” Fein writes.
“An FBI official hypothesized that online gambling could be used to launder money for terrorism.
“But he proffered no evidence that such money laundering had ever occurred, had been attempted, or had been discussed in any of the phone or email communications intercepted daily by the National Security Agency too large to fathom.
“New York City real estate is also vulnerable to money laundering schemes to assist terrorism, but Congressman Chaffetz is not shouting to prohibit real estate sales there.
“We all know the ulterior motive for the support Chaffez and his Senate counterpart, Lindsey Graham, are giving to RAWA: a hope for handsome financial support from the billionaire casino mogul Mr. Adelson.
“If the two wish to know why popular support for Congress has plunged to single digits, they should look in the mirror,” he concludes.