Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Can the General Assembly adopt a law setting what time Hoosiers go to bed?

   Last night I was asleep by 9:00 and felt well-rested when I woke at 4 a.m. Various studies indicate that (1) a minimum of seven hours’ sleep per night provides one with optimum rest (2) sleep is best obtained on a regular basis so that the biological clock of one’s body runs on the same schedule and (3) if people comported their lives by these two factors, amongst other benefits, the national health would improve, people’s lives would be longer, and insurance rates would drop. I can cite the specific studies later—you know they are out there—but for purposes of this discussion, let us use these as premises.

   The United States Supreme Court has held that, when neither a fundamental right nor a suspect class is at issue, a legislative choice on a matter "is not subject to courtroom factfinding and may be based on rational speculation unsupported by evidence or empirical data."  FCC v. Beach Communicationsat, 508 U.S. 307, 313, 113 S.Ct. 2096, 2101, 124 L.Ed.2d 211 (1993).     

   What is a "fundamental right"? "In constitutional law, a right that triggers strict scrutiny of a law to determine whether the law violates the Due Process Clause or the Equal Protection Clause; fundamental rights, as enunciated by the Supreme Court, include the right to vote, the right to interstate travel, and the various rights to privacy (such as marriage and contraception rights)."  Black’s Law Dictionary, 1996 pocket ed., p. 272.

   What is a "suspect classification"? "In constitutional law, a statutory classification based on race, national origin, or alienage, and thereby subject to strict scrutiny under equal-protection analysis..."  Id. At 611.  Examples include laws discriminating on the basis of race or, more specifically, permitting only U.S. citizens to receive welfare benefits. Id.

   As to matters not considered fundamental rights, the burden is on the one attacking the legislative arrangement to negative every conceivable basis which might support it.  Lehnhausen v. Lake Shore Auto Parts Co., 410 U.S. 356, 364, 93 S.Ct. 1001, 1006, 35 L.Ed.2d 351 (1973). Courts are compelled under this rational-basis review to accept a legislature’s generalizations even when there is an imperfect fit between means and ends.  A classification does not fail rational-basis review because it "is not made with mathematical nicety or because in practice it results in some inequality."  Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 485, 90 S.Ct. 1153, 1161, 25 L.Ed.2d 491 (1970).  "The problems of government are practical ones and may justify, if they do not require, rough accommodations—illogical it may be, and unscientific."  Metropolis Theatre Co. v. Chicago, 228 U.S. 61, 69-70, 33 S.Ct. 441, 443, 57 L.Ed. 730 (1913).

   This brings us to the question of whether the police powers of the State include dictation to people of the time people go to bed and get up therefrom.

   There mention in any provision of the Bill of Rights of bed-time. I cannot, however, think of any matter more private and personal than that. In Federalist no. 84, Alexander Hamilton wrote that we should not have a Bill of Rights because someone would jump on an omission of something from the Bill of Rights and say it is not a "right."  The Ninth Amendment was adopted to protect individuals’ rights.  The Tenth Amendment, on the other hand, was ratified to protect States’ powers.

   Unfortunately, some believe there is no body of rights created by the Ninth. I will save that discussion for later. I had a good night’s rest and much to do today. Everybody should get a good night’s rest. To do so serves the public interest. 

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Comment by Paul K. Ogden on August 9, 2012 at 7:24pm

Mark Small takes the Harry Potter, er I mean Potter Stewart, approach to whether rights magically exist buried somewherein the penumbras of emanations of the constitution - namely he knows it when he sees it.  He would have federal judges finding fundamental rights on a whim, while apparently denying others.  He would disband Congress and let the federal courts decided what rights people have.

Mark, God bless him, no wait I can't say that since he is an atheist albeit I do believe God blesses atheists as well those who believe in Him, alternates between being an anarchist, a libertarian and an elitist, the latter referring to his belief that ordinary mena and women, through their represetnatives, aren't smart enough to govern themselves.

Simply put, just because the state legislature adopts a dumb law doesn't make that law unconstitutional.  Reviewing the constitutionality of laws is about reviewing to see if the legislature had the right to adopt the law.  It is not a review of whether the law is a good idea.

This is the way it works...basically.  The national government (I hesitate to say "federal" since that term implies multiple governments with designated authority) is a government of limited power.  For Congress to act, that act must be authorized by Article I, Section 8 or some other provision of the Constitution.

States, however, have governments of reserve powers.  Basically unless the U.S. or state constitution prohibits states from passing a law, states have the authority to pass the law.  When states start imposing its laws on its citizens it only needs a rational basis for those laws.   They do not need specific authority to pass the laws, unlike the national government.

I do think there should be a law that bloggers put pictures in their posts though. 


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