Chuckie Schumer’s Do Not Ride Amtrak plan.

I have a very quick question for Sen Chuck Schumer regarding his desire to create a list of people who are not allowed to go on Amtrak… no, really: the Senator from NY apparently got a little scared by reports that al-Qaeda was thinking about debating about targeting American rail lines.  There’s no real indication that there’s an active terrorist plot to do that – not malignantly sexy enough, apparently – but, well, Democratic politicians panic easily.

Anyway, let’s set the scenario: I am in the Newark-Penn Station train station located in New Jersey.  I wish to take an Amtrak train to the Trenton, New Jersey train station*. Please note that both locations are fully within the confines of one state: please also note that Amtrak tickets may be purchased with cash, which traditionally does not require providing ID.  So here’s my question: under what authority is Congress allowed to either restrict or regulate my intrastate transportation? Please be specific, including the underlying Constitutional clause.

No, I’m being perfectly serious.  Do-not-fly lists cover international flights, not national ones; if the need to regulate the latter ever came up, you could possibly stretch the Commerce Clause to fit (we do it for everything else involving interstate activities, apparently).  But even then, the default domestic flight crosses state lines, except in the very largest states; Amtrak provides services to people who travel inside states, and I’d like to know precisely where the federal government would derive its authority to regulate such activity. 

Aside from its tacit “We’re the ones with the automatic weapons, artillery, armor, and air support” authority, of course.  But that’s a well that the federal government can’t actually draw from too many times before people start getting cranky about it.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

(Via Hot Air Headlines)

*Cheaper to do NJ Transit, yes.  Not faster, but cheaper.  Now hush.


  • Rob Sterling says:

    At least with New Jersey Transit the train will actually show up.

  • BigGator5 says:

    Isn’t Amtrak losing lots of money? Don’t we want more people to ride them? Government.

  • Johnv2 says:

    You want the authority? I can think of two right away…

    1) Federal funds will be withdrawn if the State doesn’t toe the no-ride line. Just like the 55MPH speed limits, it is based on the golden rule (them that has the gold sets the rules).

    2) The same penumbra of a shadow of a veil used in Ocare. Can you imagine the hit on interstate commerce if someone blows up the Trenton train station? Of course, you don’t need a ticket to ride to blow up the train station. Or to ship baggage on a train car.

  • Tim H. says:

    Of course, our proper response to the threat of a withdrawal of Federal highway funding should be that it simply moves the question one step farther: how are those Federal payments to the States Constitutional in the first place?

    Of course, you get a guy addicted to something you provide, and you pretty well control him.

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