December 23, 2009
There have been many commentaries on the constitutional oaths taken by our political leaders. There have even been organizations created around constitutional oaths of which I am a proud member (Oath Keepers). To me, and to every other person sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, it is and should be a solemn duty to ensure that our actions live up to that oath. But is that what is actually happening or has the oath and by extension the Constitution been relegated to mere politics.
I would say that for the vast majority of the rank and file in the military it is a solemn vow. I have come to the conclusion that for the vast majority of politicians, regardless of party, it has become a mere ceremony of attaining office and nothing more. I have drawn this conclusion from the actions of those in political positions and not from their words.
So where in the Constitution does Congress derive its power to interject itself into every facet of our lives? For those that have read the Constitution it cannot be found in the words of the Constitution but only based on inference and conjecture and then only if you have not studied the writings of those who penned the document.
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the powers given to Congress upon which they may act. Within this section you will not find any mention of the power to regulate education, energy, parks and recreation, how much water your toilet can consume per flush, healthcare, or even firearm laws. So where do they get this power?
They extract, falsely, from section 8 which states: “…provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States…” and “…regulate commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States…”
From this they have derived the “interstate commerce” and welfare powers terminology upon which every infringement, by the federal government, has been made against the citizens of this land. But is the federal government, Congress in particular, following the true intent of the founders and are they maintaining the balance of powers that was so crucial in maintaining our freedom and liberty?
What did the founders mean when they coined the term “general welfare?” On March 3, 1817, President James Madison, one of our founding fathers, vetoed a bill for the appropriation of funds on a federal public works initiative, which deals with the general welfare clause. Excerpts from this letter are as follows:
" I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States… The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated… and … To refer the power in question to the clause "to provide for common defense and general welfare" would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation… Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them. But seeing that such a power is not expressly given by the Constitution, and believing that it can not be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and reliance on insufficient precedents; believing also that the permanent success of the Constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the General and the State Governments, and that no adequate landmarks would be left by the constructive extension of the powers of Congress as proposed in the bill, I have no option but to withhold my signature from it…”
President Madison, throughout this admonition to the House, refers to specified and enumerated powers of Congress. He went on to state that this was the established and consistent rule of interpretation for the powers of congress, and to give a broad interpretation would give Congress a general power of legislation, which it did not have. Within the context of “general welfare” the congress must stay within the enumerated boundaries set by the Constitution. He concluded by stating that if the Congress did not have these defined and limited powers they would be able to legislate anything using the common defense and general welfare clauses, and this was wrong. If it was wrong then, then it is wrong now.
Thomas Jefferson also showed allegiance with Madison when he wrote:
“I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.’ To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.” [Bold added]
Thomas Jefferson agreed with James Madison that Congress must be held within the bounds outlined. To allow the General Welfare clause to be used in a broad sense would allow Congress to assume a “boundless field of power.” The founders knew that the government was to be of limited scope, power, and means. By design, it was not to be used to benefit any special interest groups, privileged class of persons, or groups in society. Rather, the Constitution was to be the guarantor of equality, where all people had a free society that allowed for the unrestrained pursuit of happiness.
If we look at the massive expansion of the federal government since the first New Deal until today with what I call the New Raw Deal we have seen a massive explosion in the use of the General Welfare clause to expand the size and scope of the federal government far beyond its constitutional scope to approach upon totalitarian levels.
The other hook used by our federal government to expand its powers beyond constitutional boundaries is the “interstate commerce” clause mentioned above. Again; if we read what those who wrote the Constitution said it meant something quite different and was not to be taken in an expansive role but a limiting one.
Today we here the term “interstate commerce” being bandied about, but that phrase does not even appear in the Constitution. The governments’ position is that if two or more states are involved, or if a foreign entity is involved, then the federal government has jurisdiction over all aspects of the venture regardless of what it is. Let’s see if this position is constitutionally correct. The Constitution states in Article 1, Section 8: “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” What did the founders mean by regulating commerce? Madison wrote in Federalist 42 that the primary reason to regulate commerce was to ensure equitable treatment between all the states. He states specifically:
“A very material object of this power was the relief of the States which import and export through other States, from the improper contributions levied on them by the latter. Were these at liberty to regulate the trade between State and State, it must be foreseen that ways would be found out to load the articles of import and export, during the passage through their jurisdiction, with duties which would fall on the makers of the latter and the consumers of the former. We may be assured by past experience, that such a practice would be introduced by future contrivances; and both by that and a common knowledge of human affairs, that it would nourish unceasing animosities, and not improbably terminate in serious interruptions of the public tranquility.”
The idea was that the federal government would ensure a level playing among ALL the states and ensure free and equitable movement of goods and services between and among the many states. It did not confer power for the federal government to enact legislation on how business was to be run or the manner in which private enterprise conducted that business even if it did cross state lines.
But our congress today would have us believe that there are no bounds by which the federal government cannot cross as long as they can find a nexus that touches upon interstate commerce or general welfare. When Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked where Congress had the constitutional authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate she replied “Are you serious? Are you serious?” Yes profound and thought provoking! But in a CNSNews.com email inquiry on the “Constitutionality of Health Insurance Reform” they claimed that the congressional authority was derived from congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce.
There logic is similar to that of another example of governmental overreaching in United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995) in which Lopez was walking near a school in San Antonio, Texas. Lopez had in his position a concealed .38 caliber handgun and 5 cartridges. He was charged with violating the federal Gun Free School Zone Act of 1990, 18 U.S.C. 922(q). He argued that the federal government had no legal authority to act, and no jurisdiction, within the boundaries of the state.
The governments’ argument was that carrying a gun near schools leads to violent acts and has an adverse affect on the area, and it thereby negatively affects commerce. They also stated that having crimes in the vicinity of schools leads to poorer learning, due to fear of the guns, which leads to a weaker economy, and thereby, negatively affects commerce. With this kind of circular logic, any area in the United States could be placed under the jurisdiction of the Federal regime.
In the current healthcare legislation they impart a similar logic in that the individual will be required (read forced) to purchase insurance or be fined/taxed. Because the individual, though acting wholly within his state would have a negative impact on health and insurance commerce and therefore impacts on interstate commerce and therefore falls under the authority of the federal government.
With that logic there is absolutely nothing that you or I may do that cannot be found to impact commerce or welfare. In fact by you not doing something you are negatively impacting commerce, like not purchasing insurance, and therefore you can be forced to do so.
So, if Madison, Jefferson, and the rest of the founders felt so strongly against a powerful central government and felt compelled to enumerate the specific powers they could operate under and added the tenth amendment to ensure that the federal government understood that all other powers were to remain with the states and the people, why do we have so many federal laws and agencies that are blatantly unconstitutional?
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I cannot believe that those in Congress, the majority being lawyers with advanced degrees and years of study, have risen to such a station in life based on stupidity or ignorance. That would lead us to the inescapable conclusion that they know exactly what they are doing and they are hell bent on the destruction of personal liberty and state sovereignty our nation was founded upon. At a very minimum they have abdicated their oath to protect and defend the Constitution for support of party and self interest and at worst have conspired against the Constitution they swore an oath to defend.
© 2009 Michael LeMieux - All Rights Reserved
LeMieux was born in Midwest City, Oklahoma in 1956 and graduated from
Weber State University in Utah with a degree in Computer Science. He served
in both the US Navy and US Army (Active duty and National Guard) and trained
in multiple intelligence disciplines and was a qualified paratrooper.
He served with the 19th Special Forces Group, while in the National Guard,
as a Special Forces tactical intelligence team member. He served tours
to Kuwait and Afghanistan where he received the Purple Heart for injuries
received in combat.
Mr. LeMieux left military duty at the end of 2005 after being medically discharged with over 19 years of combined military experience. He currently works as an intelligence contractor to the US government.
Michael is a strict constitutionalist who believes in interpreting the constitution by the original intent of the founding fathers. His research has led him to the conclusion that the republic founded by the Constitution is no longer honored by our government. That those who rule America today are doing so with the interest of the federal government in mind and not the Citizens. Michael believes that all three branches of government have strayed far from the checks and balances built into the Constitution and they have failed the American people. A clear example is the Second Amendment, which the Supreme Court and the founders have all said was an individual right and could not be "infringed" upon, now has more than 20,000 state and federal laws regulating every aspect of the individuals right, a definite infringement. He has traveled around the world living in 14 States of the Union including Hawaii, and visited (for various lengths of time) in Spain, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Korea, Scotland, Pakistan, Mauritius, Somalia, Diego Garcia, Australia, Philippines, England, Italy, Germany, and Puerto Rico.
Michael now lives in Nebraska with his wife, two of his three children, Mother-in-Law and grandchild. His hobbies include shooting, wood-working, writing, amateur inventor and scuba diving when he can find the time.
Contact Michael through his Website: www.constitutiondenied.com