Sending Office: Honorable Justin Amash
House Liberty Caucus statement on H.R. 2851, Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017
June 14, 2018
The House Liberty Caucus urges opposition to
H.R. 2851, Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017. This bill cedes more of Congress’s legislative authority to the Attorney General (AG) and grants the AG more power to fight the war on drugs, which has eroded federalism,
eviscerated numerous individual rights, entrenched severe discrimination in our criminal justice system, and failed to meaningfully limit the proliferation of illicit drugs.
H.R. 2851 grants the AG unilateral authority to place substances on a new schedule under the Controlled Substances Act, which streamlines prosecutions for unlawful trafficking in those substances and allows the AG to strictly regulate their manufacture and
distribution. Unlike the current scheduling process, this bill allows the AG to schedule substances permanently without significant input or involvement by the Department of Health and Human Services (even with the sponsor’s amendment). Additionally, the bill
grants the AG new authority to influence judges’ sentencing of individuals convicted of crimes involving certain controlled substances.
This delegates even more of Congress’s legislative authority to the AG, which violates the separation of powers and blocks the people’s ability to influence the development of drug policies and hold the government accountable for them. By allowing the AG to
control even more substances under the Controlled Substances Act, this delegation also furthers the dangerous federalization of the criminal justice system, taking power out of the hands of states—in violation of the Tenth Amendment—and building up a federal
criminal justice system that wildly exceeds that envisioned by the Founders and authorized in the Constitution.
Finally, H.R. 2851 is based on a strategy—the Controlled Substances Act and the war on drugs—that, after almost 50 years, has proven to be incompatible with individual liberty and the Constitution and ineffective at controlling the spread of drugs.
Many individual rights, including the right to receive due process, to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and to keep and bear arms, have been curtailed by courts to accommodate tactics used by the government in pursuit of the war on drugs. Other
individual rights, such as the right to be tried by a jury and to be represented by an attorney, have been eroded as a practical matter because the justice system has been strained by the enormous volume of drug-related cases.
The right to equal protection under the law is also demonstrably missing from the war on drugs, as the impacts of mass incarceration, the erosion of individual rights, and the government’s aggressive enforcement strategies are borne disproportionately by low-income
communities and people of color.
On top of the costs to individual liberty, trillions of taxpayer dollars have been spent, organized crime has been fueled, and states have been robbed of their ability to authorize and regulate activities within their borders. And for all of it, the availability
and use of illicit drugs remains common, and we find ourselves in, as the Attorney General says, “the worst drug crisis in American history.” H.R. 2851 continues us down this destructive path and prevents us from allowing states to pursue strategies to actually
reduce the devastating harm caused by drug abuse and addiction.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0