Robert Levy of the Cato Institute says no:

Maybe the bailout is necessary. Maybe it will even work. But necessary or not, temporarily effective or not, the bailout is unconstitutional. And constitutionality is not restored merely by the invocation of “emergency” by the administration and Congress.

Conservatives should have learned that lesson when the Great Depression drove the New Deal expansion of government. Liberals should have learned it more recently when civil liberties were compromised in pursuit of real and imagined terrorists. To preserve the rule of law, we must condemn all legislation that offends the Constitution-no matter how unlikely the prospect that courts will invalidate the offending acts; no matter how unwise, from a policy perspective, court intervention might be.

When policy is allowed to trump constitutionality, three choices are available to honest citizens. We can abandon the proposal and try to accomplish the desired ends using alternative but constitutional means. We can change the Constitution so that the proposal is no longer unlawful. Or, at a minimum, we can acknowledge the truth-that we are violating the Constitution in pursuit of demonstrably necessary ends, which could not be otherwise attained.

But we have chosen none of the above. Instead, we have proceeded with the bailout despite few, if any, cautionary words about its unconstitutionality. That’s a recipe for lawlessness, not to mention a precedent that will rear its ugly head every time there’s serious trouble that the federal government thinks it can fix.

This is a dangerous road we are traveling and those of us who believe free markets are the right approach will have to work years to reverse the damage. As Milton Friedman said, “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”

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