There’s only three things Joe Miller likes in a sentence: a noun, a verb, and “unconstitutional.” After previously claiming that Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits violate the Constitution, the Alaska GOP Senate candidate has added a new item to the long list of uncontroversial laws he thinks are unconstitutional — the federal minimum wage:
We asked him, for example, if there should be a federally mandated minimum wage, something that has existed since Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938.
So there should not be a federal minimum wage?
“There should not be,” Miller answered. “That is not within the scope of the powers that are given to the federal government.”
Joe Miller would do well to actually read the Constitution before he pretends to know what it says. The Constitution gives Congress the power “[t]o regulate commerce…among the several states,” a power which even ultraconservative Justice Antonin Scalia agrees gives Congress broad authority to regulate “economic activity.” Moreover, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the first federal minimum wage law in a 1941 decision called United States v. Darby.
That decision did not just uphold the minimum wage, it also expressly overruled an egregious 1918 decision striking down federal child labor laws. Darby therefore provides a frightening window into just what America would look like if it were ever ruled by Joe Miller’s twisted constitution. If Congress lacks the power to enact the basic employment laws like the minimum wage, then it also lacks the power to enact other fundamental labor protections such as regulating child labor.
Indeed, as a recent Center for American Progress report explains, Joe Miller’s “tenther” vision of the Constitution was briefly imposed on the country during the late 19th and early 20th Century. As a result, monopolies were left unchecked. Child labor was routinely exploited. Workers were left with no bargaining power against their employers — yet, somehow, laws protecting management were typically upheld.
Sadly, Mr. Noun, Verb and Unconstitutional doesn’t seem to care about this history. He’s so wrapped up in his mythical vision of what the Constitution should mean, he forgot to ask whether that mythology would cause grave harm to the country.