The Tea Party holds up Rep. Allen West as one of its darlings.

But the Florida Republican consistently proves himself just as much an enemy of limited constitutional government as the Obama administration Tea Partiers so despise.

West clings to a Constitution of convenience.

West vocally supports detention provisions written into the National Defense Authorization Act. He supports Patriot Act spying. And now he’s signed on to an unconstitutional piece of legislation dubbed the STANDUP Act, which would create “minimum Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) standards for all young drivers to protect them on America’s highways and roads.”

“As the father of two teenage daughters, I am personally concerned with the dangers of young people on the road,” West said in a press release. “The STANDUP Act will do exactly that- ‘Stand Up’ for our children, by taking a bold approach to strengthening the laws on teens and driving. I encourage my colleagues across both sides of the Congressional aisle to support the STANDUP Act.”

West goes on to list all of the benefits of standardizing licensing requirements across the U.S.

Underscoring the benefit this legislation has for communities and families is a recent study conducted by the National Safety Council on the financial and human impact of such laws. The report indicates that if all states implemented comprehensive GDL laws, an estimated 2,000 lives could be saved. Further, if all 50 states were to enact these laws, it could generate savings of $13.6 billion per year. In Florida alone, 181 lives and more than $1.2 billion could be saved.

I suggest that if West thinks these standards will benefit Floridians, he should push the Florida legislature to pass them, because he has no constitutional authority to impose them on the entire U.S.

No enumerated power delegates the federal government authority to create standardized teen licensing requirements. That power falls under the category of those “objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State,” powers left to the states and the people under the Constitution.

But West never even addresses the constitutional ramifications of his proposal. He just plunges forward, as if mere support of an act and his seal of approval on its proposed “benefits” justify its implementation.

“I’m sure there are some people who back these kinds of things that tend to believe they’re going to do something good,” Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, told “Are the car crashes caused because Washington, D.C., wasn’t giving rules to people? I find that nearly laughable.”

DC’vers circumvent the constitutional questions by pointing out that states don’t have to comply, as long as they don’t mind forfeiting a certain percentage of their federal highway funding. Whether you buy the validity of this federal carrot-and-stick routine or not, the argument misses the point. The federal government was never intended to intervene in state roles such as determining drivers licensing requirements. The Tenth Amendment clearly leaves that responsibility to the states. The ability of West and his ilk to concoct technical arguments justifying further expansion of the federal behemoth, and circumventing the clear intent of the framers, doesn’t absolve them from advancing unconstitutional and un-American ideas.

In an interview with Soledad O’Brien last spring, West blasted the “congressional progressive caucus” for its stated desire to redistribute wealth.

“For a caucus that actually wanted to have a constitutional amendment to redistribute wealth in the United States of America. I don’t think that’s in keeping with the principles and values of this country,” he said. “I’m looking at things they believe in. If you don’t think we have to stand upon truth and be able to identify and clearly contrast the different principles and values and ideologies of governance here in this country, then we’re never going to get to the fact of accepting the true debate happening in America. We don’t need a bureaucratic nanny state. We need to stay a Constitutional Republic. I think a lot of people need to study that and understand what it is.”

Get the new book today!

We don’t need a bureaucratic nanny state – except when it comes to teenage drivers licensing.

Good grief.

Maybe Rep. West needs to pick up a book and study up himself. At least this caucus proposed a constitutional remedy – the amendment process – to further their stated cause. West seems to have no problem abandoning American “principles and values” such as due process, Fourth Amendment protections and constitutional separation of powers between the state and federal government when it advances his personal agenda.

The Tea Party would be wise to pick a new darling. One who stands up for the Constitution every issue, every time, no exceptions no excuses. Not just when convenient.

Mike Maharrey

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