We the Horses: Congress, the Constitution, and Equines

This past weekend I was in DC to visit family.  I always love touring the monuments and excellent museums.  I lived in DC for one summer during college, and I have forever been impressed with the power and weight of history in the District.

Which brings us to today's topic: Congressional powers!

{Finding horses everywhere!  Revolutionary War reenactment horses at George Washington's estate, Mount Vernon in Northern Virginia (as first posted on my facebook page)}

Time to brush off those cobwebs from your civics class in high school: remember the executive (President & V. President), legislative (Congress = the House of Representatives + the Senate), and judicial branches of government?
As you know, these three branches act as checks and balances to government power, and are mandated by the US Constitution.

Guess what: Constitutional law applies to horses!

(The following is just an example, not a true legislation.  In the interest of your time and focus, even if you read just the bold phrases, you should be able to understand the essence of the example!)

In response to lobbying, Congress passed legislation appropriating $200 million for grants to aid domestic horse liniment manufacturers, and providing some degree of protection from foreign competition.  Because of concern about inefficiencies in the industry, the legislation was amended to allow the Secretary of Commerce the authority to deny grants to horse liniment manufacturers who failed to meet certain "management efficiency standards" outlined in the legislation.

One liniment manufacturer petitioned the Secretary of Commerce for a $15 million grant.  This amount equaled the amount permitted by the legislation, based on the number of the manufacturer's employees, its plants, and its average production of horse liniment over a 10-year period.  But the Secretary of Commerce REFUSED to award the funds, because she determined that the liniment manufacturer was not attempting to improve its management efficiency.

The manufacturer filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of Commerce, asserting that the power Congress granted to the Secretary was unconstitutional.

But the manufacturer lost.  Because the Secretary of Commerce is a representative of the executive branch, she had the authority to regulate the legislation.

Based on this example, if you have ever used horse liniment, you have participated in modern Constitutional law!

Constitutional law can be a dense topic, but I hope to bring more awareness of our everyday interactions with Constitutional parameters, especially in the horse world.

One of the most famous Constitution-Equine cases is the Amish horse buggies and the 1st Amendment right to the Free Exercise of Religion (the law requires traffic reflectors to be placed on the buggies, in opposition to Amish religious practice).

Thanks for bearing with the civics lesson!