Rand Paul proposes constitutional amendment barring government officials from being above the law
Sen. Paul’s office announced on Monday that the lawmaker introduced a Constitutional amendment in Washington last week “that would hold government officials to the same standard as the American people.”
According to Politico, the proposal is a direct response to a provision within President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act that allows lawmakers and their aides to receive federal employer contributions to go towards covering the cost of buying in to the controversial health insurance mandate.
Responding to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the legality of so-called Obamacare, Sen. Paul told the Daily Caller last month, “[Chief] Justice [John] Roberts is still continuing to have federal employee health insurance subsidized by the taxpayer.”
“If he likes Obamacare so much, I’m going to give him an
amendment that gives Obamacare to Justice Roberts,” Paul told
the publication. Chief Justice Roberts voted in July 2012 to
uphold the constitutionality of the health care mandate, much to
the chagrin of the law’s conservative opponents.
Now just weeks after warning of a potential proposal, the senator has followed through with that promise and has officially introduced a measure that would amend the Constitution to ensure all Americans must abide by the same laws, regardless of any role, elected or otherwise, in the US government.
The proposal reads that “Congress shall make no law applicable
to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable
to Congress,” while also preventing legislation from being
passed that would favor members of the executive branch of
government — including the president, vice president, ambassadors
and others — or the Supreme Court.
Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to Congress: http://t.co/fqvMpd53mj— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) October 21, 2013
In order for the proposal to have any footing, however, Paul has an uphill battle ahead, to say the least. First he will need two-thirds of each the Senate and House of Representatives to approve his amendment, which would then require state legislatures across the US to accept it as well. Even then, though, critics — including some conservatives — have found flaws with his proposal.
Jennifer Rubin wrote in the Washington Post on Tuesday that the senator’s effort is, in her opinion, “nonsensical in its intention and incoherent in its expression.”
“[I]f Paul wants to level the playing field, he should simply propose a statutory fix to Obamacare itself,” Rubin wrote. “Why not propose and vote on it?”
Ian Millhiser at Think Progress went as far as to say that, in its current language, Sen. Paul’s amendment would render the lawmaking process itself all too impractical. “Indeed, Paul’s amendment is so broadly drafted that it could immediately grant to every member of Congress every single benefit offered to anyone at all under federal law,” he wrote.
“Admittedly, the intent of Paul’s amendment is to limit the privileges afforded to members of Congress, not to transform them into recipients of the most generous and unnecessary welfare program in American history. So it is possible that the courts would ignore the literal meaning of the amendment and interpret it narrowly to merely forbid laws that give special privileges to lawmakers. Even this interpretation is problematic, however,” added Millhiser.