The strength of the movement to reinvigorate the Tenth Amendment comes from the states and not from Washington, DC where, unfortunately, even those who wrap themselves in the Constitution often fall short in their defense of it. That is especially true when political allies and campaign supporters demand the federal government “do something,” even it tramples on the Tenth Amendment. That’s exactly what is happening with the campaign to outlaw Internet gaming.
Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson is a classic example of why we can’t rely on Washington politicians to protect the Constitution. Adelson is a prominent Republican donor who has contributed tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, to GOP candidates and groups over the years. Now he has come to DC demanding that the federal government protect his Las Vegas casinos from competition by outlawing the ability of states to legalize online gaming for their residents.
Despite the clear attack on the Tenth Amendment and stench of crony capitalism, some of the most conservative members of the House have signed on to Adelson’s effort. Whether it is their moral opposition to gambling or the fact they just want to help a friend, it’s clear that principled opposition to the legislation is falling by the wayside.
Most troubling is the fact that even Congress’ staunchest proponents of federalism and limited government have gone silent. To this date, only one member of the House of Representatives has had the moral gonads to speak out. Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) recently commented on the ban saying, “Its another example of someone looking to the federal government to deal with an issue that is really one of the few that is left that is a states issue. Gaming, and I’m not a big fan of it either, but that’s a states issue. The states have been controlling gaming in their state, let the states decide. It’s a states’ rights issue. Leave the states alone federal government and let them deal with it however they want to deal with it but not have the federal government rush in and try to control gaming in the entire country.”
Kudos to Poe for not shying away from principle, but so far, he is the only one with the fortitude to take such a stance. Silence is a form of consent and there is a lot of consent coming from politicians who claim to be supporters of the Constitution. No member of the Liberty Caucus, Republican Study Committee or any of the other supposedly liberty oriented caucuses has uttered a single word of opposition to the bill much less outrage at such a crony and egregious power grab.
Amid this silent consent, Adelson continues to add lobbyists to this roster and cosponsors to his legislation as the bill slowly but surely creeps closer to passage through Congress. Now is the time for people to speak up, before Republican leadership takes conservatives’ muted response as a green light to trample the Constitution to give Adelson what he wants.