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Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, Gambling, and Guns: The Synergistic Constitutional Effects
Albany Government Law Review (2013)
  • David B Kopel
  • Trevor Burrus, Cato Institute

In this Article, we discuss the synergistic relationship between the wars‖ on drugs, guns, alcohol, sex, and gambling, and how that relationship has helped illegitimately increase the power of the federal government over the past century. The Constitution never granted Congress the general police power‖ to legislate on health, safety, welfare, and morals; the police power was reserved to the States. Yet over the last century, federal laws against guns, alcohol, gambling, and some types of sex have encroached on the police powers traditionally reserved to the states.

Congress‘s infringement of the States‘ powers over the health, safety, welfare, and morals of their citizens occurred slowly, with only intermittent resistance from the courts. In no small part due to this synergistic relationship, today we have a federal government that has become unmoored from its constitutional boundaries and legislates recklessly over the health, safety, welfare, and morals of American citizens. In part I, we discuss how the Taxing Clause was the original conduit for congressional overreach. In part II, we analyze the Interstate Commerce Clause’s role in augmenting government power. Part III examines how that overreach has affected citizens’ property rights, and Part IV looks at how civil liberties, particularly Fourth Amendment protections, have been negatively affected by the federal government‘s synergistic wars against sex, drugs, gambling, and guns.

  • growth of government,
  • commerce clause,
  • tax power,
  • moral legislation
Publication Date
Citation Information
David B Kopel and Trevor Burrus. "Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, Gambling, and Guns: The Synergistic Constitutional Effects" Albany Government Law Review Vol. 6 Iss. 2 (2013)
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