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Tea Party Legal Expert Slams Federal Efforts at Tort Reform

Rob Natelson, one of the leading Constitutional scholars of the Tea Party movement, declared on Tuesday that "H.R. 5 flagrantly contravenes the limitations the Constitution places places upon Congress, and therefore violates both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments." Professor Natelson is an expert on the Founding Era; a former Republican candidate for Governor of Montana; and now Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute in Colorado, a non-partisan, free-market-oriented public policy research organization. Writing in his personal capacity to the Chairmen and ranking Members of the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees, he cited the Founders' writings for concluding that (1) civil actions in state and federal courts are not "commerce" under the Commerce Clause; and (2) H.R. 5 is not justified under the Necessary and Proper Clause. Moreover, according to Professor Natelson, the proper interpretation of the Commerce Clause excludes "health laws of every description," a phrase used by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall in the landmark case of Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824). Finally, Professor Natelson asserts that the section of H.R. 5 which purportedly protects states from pre-emption "grants protection only when the state undertakes policy choices preferred by Congress." He describes that section as "more in the nature of an insult to the states than a protection of federalism."
Professor Natelson also posted the letter on The Electric City Weblog in an entry titled, "Yet MORE disregard for the Constitution - this time from Republicans." You can download Professor Natelson's letter from that site (4.6 MB Acrobat).

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