There is an ongoing push in Congress to ban the ability of states to legalize Internet gaming. Rumors are swirling in Congress of an end of the year deal that will impose a short-term gaming ban; they are calling it a “moratorium and study,” that, if passed, will violate the 10th Amendment to the Constitution as much as a permanent one.
As a supporter of the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms, I must ask, can an Internet ban on the sale of firearms be far behind?
A customer shops for a handgun at Metro Shooting Supplies on November 12, 2014 in Bridgeton, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Michael Hammond, the General Counsel of Gun Owners of America, has noted that a gaming ban potentially opens the door for further meddling with Internet freedom. Hammond believes if the federal government can cherry pick what can be sold online and can override state laws, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has demanded action on this front since 1999, will again push for the banning of gun sales online and Republicans won't have a philosophical leg to stand on to fight against it.
The Bill of Rights is sacrosanct and liberals should respect the right of the people to govern themselves in the states. Political correctness has no business dictating what parts of the Constitution our federal government follows and ignores.
On some politically correct college campuses, Voltaire's fight for the idea that, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it," may seem quaint and outdated. Liberals will only fight for ideas that they deem acceptable. Thankfully, most average Americans still cherish and agree with tolerance of others to believe differently.
Freedom of speech isn't about consensus; it's about liberty. The First Amendment to the Constitution incorporates this belief by affording Americans freedom of speech without caveats or exceptions. When you think of it, the same principles should apply to other sections of the Bill of Rights, particularly the 10th Amendment.
The 10th Amendment affords states the ability to govern their affairs. The Constitution provides that powers not specifically given to the federal government were reserved to the states. There is no exceptions or caveats to the rule. States may pass laws in which you may not agree but that doesn’t give the federal government the power to overturn laws when politicians in Washington disagree. Furthermore, the federal government can’t veto a law because they find a certain activity immoral – like gambling.
Think about it this way. The state exercises the police powers to lock up people who violate the laws of the state. Some states right now think it is ok for residents to go to a doctor for a prescription to smoke marijuana and some have prohibited that practice. Some states allow casinos to operate in a state. Others allow people to not wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. States have passed different laws to police the states, because our Founders wanted the Republic run that way.
Congress must confront federalism when it comes to legal and state-regulated Internet gambling. Most Republican legislators pledge fidelity to the Bill of Rights and also oppose the idea of gambling. A number of states have made the democratic decision to allow Internet gambling and the sale of lottery tickets online for their citizens.
At least one Las Vegas brick and mortar billionaire is upset and some Republicans are now crawling over glass to see that the federal government overturns state laws allowing Internet gaming. More principled conservatives, like House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), an ardent opponent of gambling, has remained true to his support for the Constitution; while others, like Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has cast his lot with casino owner Sheldon Adelson, rather than the Founding Fathers.
Why would Chaffetz, a founder of the House 10th Amendment Caucus, go native? Why would he abandon principle to help one of the richest men in the universe?
When asked about Adelson's support for Chaffetz position on a CNBC interview, Chaffetz made the ludicrous claim that without this legislation, Utah (one of two states with no legalized gambling) would have Internet gambling. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A coalition of conservative organizations has banded together to fight this bill. In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte, the groups note the bill is an outright assault on federalism. The legislation tramples on the Tenth Amendment by banning state regulation of online gambling – further chipping away at the balance between state and federal governance. The bill would overturn state laws already on the books in three states and would prohibit states from selling lottery tickets online for their own constituents – rolling back at least another six state laws.”
Freedom of speech does not depend on the type of utterances made by a speaker. The Second Amendment does not allow for a ban on Internet sales of guns. The Tenth Amendment empowers states to pass legislation policing the activities of residents. Conservatives should not toss aside federalism in the name of banning gaming, just as liberals should refrain from cracking down on all but politically correct speech. The Bill of Rights is not discretionary on liberals and conservatives.
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