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No, the Tea Party is not an extremist, reactionary force in American politics that finds our government illegitimate. They're just a bunch of folks who want to take America back to the common sense government of 1850. Before there were federal child labor laws.

Utah's freshman Senator, Mike Lee:

Congress decided it wanted to prohibit [child labor], so it passed a law—no more child labor. The Supreme Court heard a challenge to that and the Supreme Court decided a case in 1918 called Hammer v. Dagenhardt. In that case, the Supreme Court acknowledged something very interesting — that, as reprehensible as child labor is, and as much as it ought to be abandoned — that’s something that has to be done by state legislators, not by Members of Congress. [...]

This may sound harsh, but it was designed to be that way. It was designed to be a little bit harsh. Not because we like harshness for the sake of harshness, but because we like a clean division of power, so that everybody understands whose job it is to regulate what.

Now, we got rid of child labor, notwithstanding this case. So the entire world did not implode as a result of that ruling.

Yes, he's arguing the federal child labor laws are unconstitutional. But that's not all:

Child labor laws are also only one of many essential protections that would evaporate in Mike Lee’s America. The same legal theory Lee uses to impugn child labor laws applies equally to the federal minimum wage and the ban on whites-only lunch counters. And Lee doesn’t even stop there. In a subsequent section of the lecture, Lee attacks President Franklin Roosevelt for calling for the federal government to provide “a decent retirement plan” and “health care” because “the Constitution doesn’t give Congress any of those powers.”

Your modern day GOP on display.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Jan 14, 2011 at 05:46 PM PST.

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