Monday, December 21, 2009

The Right to Travel, Airlines, and Newt

Although the text of the US Constitution does not explicitly guarantee it, the US Supreme Court has long recognized a constitutional liberty to interstate travel. See, e.g.US v. Guest, 383 US 745, 764 (Harlan, J., concurring). Unfortunately, nothing in the Constitution or Supreme Court doctrine prevents the airlines from discouraging a citizen from exercising that right.

Today, the Transportation Department announced a new rule that limits to 3 hours the amount of time airlines can violate the Geneva Conventions hold passengers hostage on the tarmac without giving them an opportunity to deplane. I predict that Liberals will argue that the rule should have been stronger, limiting hostage holding to only 1 hour. Conservatives, meanwhile, will argue that the rule itself violates the constitutional liberty of airline corporations to hold passengers hostage.

In a related note, according to Brad DeLong's blog, Newt Gingrich suggested that the snowstorm that grounded thousands of flights along the Eastern seaboard yesterday was a message from God denouncing the  Copenhagen climate negotiations.

1 comment:

  1. You said that you don't know how the gov't can extend service to cover pre-existing conditions. I am not at all an economist, even though I teach conversational English at a vocational high school of economics and foreign trade. Even so, I think a government, unlike an insurance company, can "suck up" costs for a time, until the payments catch up with the expenses. That is, it will cost more than they tell it will - even as proponents of such a plan know this, they don't say admit it - even to themselves. I don't like this type of "economics" in government, but perhaps that is how it will work. Similarly, I am not against health care reform, but how to make an honest, equitable plan that really works is a mystery to me.

    It is good that society is slowly beginning to recognize that all people are human and deserve certain "inalienable rights" - if I may borrow that phrase. We all benefit from living in a society - farmers sell their produce and buy tools for their work. Manufacturers make stuff and sell it. We don't have to make our own refrigerators, we buy one. It is far better than living in isolation from one another. This allows researchers to research and artists to beautify the world.

    In such a mutually back scratching environment, do we not owe one another health care? It is a thought I have pondered. I lean toward saying, yes.


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