Politics

The Constitution Is Dead

Long live the Constitution

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Almost every patriotic fiber of my body tells me that reading the Constitution aloud at the commencement of congressional sessions is a good idea. Heck, a pop quiz might even be in order. It is vital that members of Congress fully immerse themselves in the document if they're going to circumvent it effectively.

These same instincts demand that I embrace the new Republican rule requiring that every House bill contain a statement from the author specifically citing the constitutional authority on which he is basing the legislation. If not for anything else, watching politicians squaring a new law calling for "breast-feeding rights" with the founding document promises an entertainment value that is urgently missing in Washington.

Yet despite all my superhuman patriotism, I also find the whole effort a bit gimmicky and unnecessary. As you know, the Constitution is malleable, and we all believe deeply in our own version; that's if we're imbued with enough wisdom to understand it.

Recently, the wise liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein explained that "the issue of the Constitution is not that people don't read the text and think they're following; the issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago."

Or, who knows, perhaps technocrats who believe societal progress is achieved through state control are not yet free to openly assert their aversion to a document conceived—unmistakably—to protect the individual from state intrusion.

The Constitution, curiously enough, always seems to get most convoluted when the wording is most precise. As you know, the First Amendment is fine if the result is "fair" and not too hateful. The Second is dangerous and misunderstood. To support the 10th is to pine for slavery. The Fifth is vitally important—unless the environmental good is threatened.

Perhaps the flaw in the document is its ambiguity rather than its complexity. Giving Congress the wide-ranging authority to "make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper" to provide for the "general Welfare," for instance, gives every do-gooder who can cobble together 50 percent-plus-one of the vote the authority to define the common good.

This includes conservatives, who would often have trouble passing their own originalist constitutional purity test.

Under what authority does government dictate the parameters of marriage, for instance? What in the Constitution allows Washington to prohibit the peaceful economic transaction between individuals—whether it be marijuana or anything else? (Alcohol prohibitionists had the decency to pass a new amendment.)

So, because the Constitution has become too complex for many of us to decipher—and thus irrelevant—it's time to boil the whole thing down to its troglodytic and/or graceful basics and engage P.J. O'Rourke's rules of governance in a free society:

1) "Mind your own business."

2) "Keep your hands to yourself."

If the public believes in the spirit of the founding and politicians are committed to the resurrection of the Constitution, those rules are a good guide when looking at new legislation. No need for gimmicks.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his website at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.

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  1. Foist, Motha Fuckas

  2. “Recently, the wise liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein explained that “the issue of the Constitution is not that people don’t read the text and think they’re following; the issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago.”

    Well he is wise for a liberal!

    1. I know.

      Phrases like “Congress shall make no law” are so damn confusing!

      Does that mean Congress shall make no law?
      Does it mean Congress shall make any law it pleases?
      Does it mean Congress shall make no law except under certain yet to be determined circumstances?

      It was written so long ago I just can’t tell!

      Aaaauuuggghhh!

      1. Words are arbitrary. Except mine.

        1. Go red team!
          Boo blue team!

          /rolleyes

      2. It could imply that Congress can make any damn law it wants, except what is expressly forbidden. The constitution doesn’t say “Congress shall make only laws pertaining to x.”

        1. —“It could imply that Congress can make any damn law it wants”—

          With the small problem that enumerated powers don’t imply anything. That is what enumerated means.

        2. Some objected to the Bill of Rights, saying that those Amendments were not needed if the federal government stuck to doing only that which it was authorized, and that those Amendments could be misconstrued to authorized the federal government to do anything that is not expressly forbidden.

          Here we are.

          1. So we’d be more free without the Bill of Rights?

            I’m not saying you’re wrong, but sometimes unintended consequences are better than what was intended.

            1. I would say that while the protections we’ve enjoyed under the Bill of Rights are fast dwindling, those rights would’ve disappeared long before had the Bill of Rights not been written.

              People in power will always seek to increase that power while eroding your freedoms. Things like Bills of Rights serve only to forestall the inevitable.

            2. We’d be more free had the courts limited Congress to its 18 enumerated powers, instead of giving it carte blanche by reducing the entire Constitution to general welfare, regulate commerce, necessary and proper.

              1. Congress is thus limited. It’s just that the clauses you mention have been interpreted broadly. If the courts don’t strike down a law, then by definition Congress has acted within its power.

                1. “then by definition Congress has acted within its power”

                  LMAO!

                  No Tony. If the courts do not strike down a law that is in violation of constraints put upon the federal government by the Constitution, that simply means that a bunch of asshole lawyers in black robes decided to ignore the Constitution and allow Congress to overstep its bounds.

                  That’s all.

                  They’re not gods, and legislation is not scripture.

                  1. I’m saying the system has built-in means for determining whether an action of Congress is legal or not. There is no outside reference, since the constitution is not scripture either. Even if it were, it would have to be interpreted.

                    1. Tony’s right. The Constitution is the ultimate rulebook, but it set down the Judiciary as its referee. We can all argue about what the Constitution means, but for practical purposes it means exactly what the Supreme Court says (unless Congress vehemently disagrees). Nothing more, nothing less. Fortunately the Constitution also gave We the People a method of rebuking the Supreme Court should they prove abusive (the main problem is we have to do it through Congress…)

                    2. We can all argue about what the Constitution means, but for practical purposes it means exactly what the Supreme Court says

                      It is perfectly within the purview of the Executive to ignore the Court if obeying the Court means violating the Constitution. All elected officials take an oath afterall. If the Prez abuses his office by ignoring his oath, he can be impeached and removed. If (If! HA!) the Justices ignore their oaths, they can be impeached and removed. One of the biggest problems with our government at the moment is the pervasive acceptance of the idea that the Judiciary is the supreme branch of government and gets the last word on everything. There should a heck of a lot more inter-branch combat going on.

                    3. “It is perfectly within the purview of the Executive to ignore the Court if obeying the Court means violating the Constitution.”

                      Like when Hamilton evicted the Cherokee, in defiance of the Supreme Court, with one in four dropping dead along the Trail of Tears, telling the court “enforce it”?

                      Inter-branch combat is meaningless if it cannot be enforced.

                    4. How many armies does the Pope have?

                    5. Like when Hamilton evicted the Cherokee, in defiance of the Supreme Court…

                      And then that bastard Jackson did the same thing thirty years later.

                    6. Agreed. Currently all three branches are choosing to ignore their oaths. Or, at least, their minds have been warped by power into thinking that they are upholding their oaths by trampling our freedom…

                    7. The problem we have today is that the courts, including the supreme court are easily corrupted by the political process. The courts are not the ultimate arbiter of whether or not the constitution has been followed. The final say always comes down to the people. If the constitution is a contract between government and the people, then the people can also act as judges to decide if rules and laws passed by government are in the spirit of the constitution. If the people are not satisfied with the way the constitution is being interpreted, then they can oust the politicians and replace them with people who are more in line with their understanding of the constitution.

                      This is why it is important that people understand history and understand the basic principals of individual liberty which the constitution is specifically designed to protect. Stupid people demand that the government do things for them because they cannot possibly imagine that people could do these things for themselves. And once the stupid people start getting free shit from the government, everyone else also has to sacrifice their individual liberty so that those assholes can protect their welfare.

                    8. Tony’s right.

                      Any post starting with those words is bound to be in error.. and this is no exception..

                      The Constitution is the ultimate rulebook, but it set down the Judiciary as its referee

                      Actually no. It did not. Scotus arrograted that power to itself in Marbury vs Madison.

                    9. Judges can be just as corrupt and wrong as anyone else because they are only men.

                      They can declare that up is down, right is left, wrong is right, but that doesn’t make it so.

                      Congress in recent legislation has tried to nullify the law of supply and demand, and the courts are on their side. That doesn’t make the right.

                      The Supreme Court could uphold a law declaring gravity to be null and void, but I guarantee your feet will not leave the ground.

                    10. Are there beings other than human beings who you suppose might be involved in this process?

                    11. Tony – what about your own mind?

                      Does “Congress shall make no law” mean that, or what someone in a black robe tells you.

                      Do you trust your own judgment or do you put the judgment of others before your own?

                    12. sarcasmic my own judgment is irrelevant to reality, but it’s okay to disagree with precedent. The thing is “Congress shall make no law” is the easy part. It’s what follows that is usually vague and subject to interpretation. People who claim the constitution is clear-cut in its pronouncements are ironically usually people who have a fringe interpretation of it, and don’t want to subject that interpretation to scrutiny.

                    13. The problem is that following the law is so inconvenient (to the ruling class).

                    14. I’m saying the system has built-in means for determining whether an action of Congress is legal or not.

                      Ultimately, that has to be elections.

                      Relying on 5 unelected politicians to protect our freedom is foolish.

          2. Essentially what Hamilton argued; that it was not possible to list all the rights a man had. Some would be left off and open the door to abuse. Hamilton argued that, since the constitution specifically listed what Congress (not “the government”) could do, that was enough limitation.

            Of course, give Hamilton’s subsequent actions, one wonders what his motives were…

            1. His motives were clearly statist, and his argument was specious.

              In fact 9A and 10A addressed his argument explicitly. If a power is not expressly granted then it is retained by the states and the people. Of course this is regularly ignored.

        3. There is this…

          To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

          and then there’s this…

          The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

          Pretty much covers it, eh?

          1. The necessary and proper clause is not a restriction as much as it is a granting of power. Case law, at least, has tended to confirm this.

            And the 10th amendment doesn’t contradict those powers. It’s understood to be fairly superfluous addition to the constitution.

            1. Of course the 10th is superfluous!

              If the federal government has unlimited power, what is reserved for the states or the people?

              NOTHING!

              1. It’s not unlimited. It’s just that the necessary and proper and commerce clauses have been interpreted broadly. I think that’s a good thing. I think the federal government needs a lot of the power it has assumed in order to make our country function (though certainly not in every case). You I gather think the interpretations have been too broad. Since case law is not on your side, you should argue for a constitutional amendment clarifying the matter. I’m not sure what crying about the fact that you don’t win in the courts is supposed to accomplish.

                1. I couldn’t give a fuck about case law. It’s just an excuse to build power by creating law from court decisions instead of through the legislative process, just as regulation is a way for the executive to create rules with the power of law without the legislative process.
                  It’s all a sham by those who seek power.
                  I only respect those things insofar as to not set myself up to be fined or arrested, but otherwise I could care less.

                  I believe in right and wrong, not winning.

                  I would rather know I’m right and lose than be a soulless cretin like you.

                  1. But there isn’t anything besides case law to determine what the constitution means. You are entitled to disagree with it, but there is no higher authority than the courts for determining whether something is constitutional.

                    1. I don’t need jokers in black robes to tell me what plain language like “Congress shall make no law” means.

                      To me the meaning is obvious, though courts have interpreted it to be “Congress shall make any law except under certain circumstances that will be decided on a case by case basis”.

                      Words like “shall not be infringed” have been interpreted to mean “shall be infringed except under certain circumstances that will be decided on a case by case basis”. Though anyone with a shred of common sense and honesty can clearly see that those words do not mean that.

                      “To regulate Commerce… among the several States” has a pretty clear meaning, though the courts say it means “To regulate Commerce… between every individual citizen”.

                      As a practical matter, yes the courts decide. The guys with guns answer to them.

                      However they’re still as wrong as wrong can be.

                    2. Holy dumb fuck batman!!

                      Of course there’s something other than case law to determine what the constitution means. There are the debates between those who wrote/framed it and those who ratified/made it. There are the papers of the day to show as much as possible what the understanding of the people was. There is the context within which the constitution was framed, such as what was meant by “the Law of Nations”, what was understood to be “commerce”, what were rights not to be disparaged understood as at the time of the framing and ratifying of the US constitution.

                      So any time your freakin precious case law deviates from the above then that case law is in error and to be rejected.

                      Do you ever actual bother trying to think?

                    3. “Do you ever actual bother trying to think?”

                      Tony prefers to outsource silly things like thinking for one’s self.

                    4. Words have meaning and the constitution was written in the context of a war that had just been won liberate Americans from a strong central government. Furthermore, all of the historical documentation of the constitution makes the purpose and spirit of the document very clear. Judges cannot read the constitution any damn way they want. To say that the commerce clause allows the federal government to control any aspect of business in the US is absurd when you understand the context of its writing. The US was in chaos and states were making rules that gave them unfair advantage over other states. The purpose of the commerce clause was to prevent states from making rules and tariffs that unreasonably hinder commerce between the states, it had nothing to do with regulating PRIVATE industry. This is just one example, but even if you are not satisfied with historical context and documentation, you can always read the words.

                      To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

                      With foreign nations and with Indian tribes are both easily recognized as entities that represent sovereign groups of people (Indians and Nations) so why would we read the phrase “among the several states” to mean anything other than states as sovereign entities. If the intent was to regulate individual or corporate commerce then they would have specified among individual citizens and/or among corporations.

                      The fact that the legal system has a million different decisions that directly contradict this very clear and concise language does not make that decision correct, or even a higher authority.

                    5. Yes there is. The jury.

                    6. Reminder to Patriot Mike:

                      Kindly remove or replace the first word in your internet handle, as your stance on smoking itself, is enough to preclude you from using that word.

            2. And the 10th amendment doesn’t contradict those powers. It’s understood to be fairly superfluous addition to the constitution.

              Huh,

              Seems to me that the preamble is superfluous since it doesn’t specify any power held by any part of the new governmental structure.

            3. And the 10th amendment doesn’t contradict those powers. It’s understood to be fairly superfluous addition to the constitution.

              Why would the 10th be included if it were superfluous? The much more reasonable conclusion is that the rest of the Constitution, particularly the commerce clause, has been read too broadly thus rendering the 10th irrelevant rather than the 10th having been intended to have no meaning.

              1. From everyone’s favorite founder, James Madison:

                I find, from looking into the amendments proposed by the State conventions, that several are particularly anxious that it should be declared in the Constitution, that the powers not therein delegated should be reserved to the several States. Perhaps words which may define this more precisely than the whole of the instrument now does, may be considered as superfluous. I admit they may be deemed unnecessary: but there can be no harm in making such a declaration, if gentlemen will allow that the fact is as stated. I am sure I understand it so, and do therefore propose it.

                The real question is why you guys focus so much on one of the least important parts of the constitution. Sort of how you selectively focus on Madison’s writing. Almost as if you’re picking and choosing what to emphasize to accord with your policy preferences.

                1. Tony, did you read Madison’s statement? He means that the words are superfluous because they are already clearly understood to be included in the rest of the Constitution, NOT because they don’t apply. Madison can’t imagine anyone could possibly need those words included – but apparently with idiots like you around, we need even stronger language.

            4. The necessary and proper clause is not a restriction as much as it is a granting of power

              If it were intended to be expansive then it would be superfluous to say that at all. 9A and 10A explicitly belie that opinion.

              The entire position is logically preposterous. Why enumerate powers if there we no limits to powers intended? Why write 9A and 10A?

              The only rational interpretation of necessary is just that, ‘necessary’. If the execution of an enumerated power cannot possibly be accomplished without a law then it’s necessary. That still doesn’t mean it’s proper, which is also another limitation.

              A good example would be torture, while it might be necessary to torture to get information for optimizing national defense it might not pass the ‘proper’ test.

              1. You’re begging the question that Congress is doing a bunch of unconstitutional things. They aren’t. The interstate commerce clause is simply more powerful than you want it to be.

                1. No, you misunderstand what the word regulate meant. The misuse of the power has come to make the word ‘regulate’ to mean ‘government meddling’ but that’s exactly the opposite of what it meant and they intended.

                  In fact the purpose of the power was to prevent states meddling to help one or the other party. Regulate means ‘to make regular’ there is no instance you can find where this is not what that word meant.

                  You’re begging the question that Congress is doing a bunch of unconstitutional things

                  Of course they do unconstitutional things, sometimes the supremes even rule so.

                  You’re still in a logical bind. The commerce clause, as currently applied, admits to no jurisdictional limit. Everything we do can and has been ‘interpreted’ to be commerce, whether we do it or abstain from doing it.

                  So the reality the congress admits to no jurisdictional limit either, because anyone can, and has, make a ‘plausible’ case that any human activity can impact commerce. Therefore it is still completely illogical to assume they would enumerate 23 powers when one alone was sufficient to accomplish everything anyone might dream of without limit.

                  In your view what do you think 9A and 10A actually referred to? Because according to the courts they seem to refer to almost nothing. The people retain no powers nor do the states since the commerce clause and taxing power have been ‘interpreted’ to cover every aspect of human life.

        4. “It could imply that Congress can make any damn law it wants”

          Which reminds me of the past few administrations…

        5. If government had a dick, I’d suck it.

    2. Actually, the Constitution was written more than 50 years ago, but whose counting.

      1. Old stuff is yucky and confusing!

  3. I can’t imagine that the reading will take long. The only part of the Constitution that either party has any use for is the Commerce Clause.

    1. Here’s the condensed version of the enabling Constitution:

      General welfare, regulate commerce, necessary and proper.

      Seven words is all that is needed to enable the federal government to do whatever the fuck it pleases.

      The rest can be ignored.

      1. Yeah. Clearly it was intended to allow everything, which makes you wonder why they even bothered to put the rest of it in there. How odd.

        1. To fill space. Like the eight songs on every Stones album that never get any radio play.

          1. The rest was just put in to provide some structure until the politicians could decide exactly how the government SHOULD be run.

      2. “General welfare’ was never a power unto itself as Madision made quite clear in Federalist 41:

        http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa41.htm

        1. So James Madison is God of All Laws now? Because he’s a founder you agree with?

          1. If there were an afterlife, I would smile beatifically upon you, Tony.

              1. Screw you, Mao. You’re always trying to outdo me at my own schtick. 60 million my ass! I was oppressing before oppressing was cool. You just jumped onto my haywagon.

                1. Hey guys, can I play too? Please? I promise to pass the 20 million mark, I promise.

            1. See? SEE?!?!

            2. Hey, where’d everybody go? You guys said 11:00, right? Am I late?

  4. Constitution, schmonstitution.

  5. Can someone recommend a book which deconstructs how the writers of the constitution defined ‘general welfare’?

    My simple google search gives me this website: http://www.usconstitution.net/…..ml#WELFARE

    I am simply seeking to understand the original intent of what, in my opinion, may be the 2 most intangible words in the document.

    thanks.

    1. From United States v. Butler (challenging new deal farm regulations) it appears that this was a matter of dispute from the very beginning, but that SCOTUS held that the it relates to the power to tax–i.e. that the government can tax to spend money on things that benefit the nation as a whole, but not localities.

      “The clause thought to authorize the legislation, the first, confers upon the Congress power ‘to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States. * * *’ It is not contended that this provision grants power to regulate agricultural production upon the theory that such legislation would promote the general welfare. The government concedes that the phrase ‘to provide for the general welfare’ qualifies the power ‘to lay and collect taxes.’ The view that the clause grants power to provide for the general welfare, independently of the taxing power, has never been authoritatively accepted. Mr. Justice Story points out that, if it were adopted, ‘it is obvious that under color of the generality of the words, to ‘provide for the common defence and general welfare’, the government of the United States is, in reality, a government of general and unlimited powers, notwithstanding the subsequent enumeration of specific powers.’11 The true construction undoubtedly is that the only thing granted is the power to tax for the purpose of providing funds for payment of the nation’s debts and making provision for the general welfare.

      Nevertheless, the government asserts that warrant is found in this clause for the adoption of the Agricultural Adjustment Act. The argument is that Congress may appropriate and authorize the spending of moneys for the ‘general welfare’; that the phrase should be liberally

      Page 65

      construed to cover anything conducive to national welfare; that decision as to what will promote such welfare rests with Congress alone, and the courts may not review its determination; and, finally, that the appropriation under attack was in fact for the general welfare of the United States.

      The Congress is expressly empowered to lay taxes to provide for the general welfare. Funds in the Treasury as a result of taxation may be expended only through appropriation. Article 1, ? 9, cl. 7. They can never accomplish the objects for which they were collected, unless the power to appropriate is as broad as the power to tax. The necessary implication from the terms of the grant is that the public funds may be appropriated ‘to provide for the general welfare of the United States.’ These words cannot be meaningless, else they would not have been used. The conclusion must be that they were intended to limit and define the granted power to raise and to expend money. How shall they be construed to effectuate the intent of the instrument?

      Since the foundation of the nation, sharp differences of opinion have persisted as to the true interpretation of the phrase. Madison asserted it amounted to no more than a reference to the other powers enumerated in the subsequent clauses of the same section; that, as the United States is a government of limited and enumerated powers, the grant of power to tax and spend for the general national welfare must be confined to the enumerated legislative fields committed to the Congress. In this view the phrase is mere tautology, for taxation and appropriation are or may be necessary incidents of the exercise of any of the enumerated legislative powers. Hamilton, on the other hand, maintained the clause confers a power separate and distinct from those later enumerated is not restricted in meaning by the grant of them, and Congress consequently has a substantive power to tax and to ap-

      Page 66

      propriate, limited only by the requirement that it shall be exercised to provide for the general welfare of the United States. Each contention has had the support of those whose views are entitled to weight. This court has noticed the question, but has never found it necessary to decide which is the true construction. Mr. Justice Story, in his Commentaries, espouses the Hamiltonian position.12 We shall not review the writings of public men and commentators or discuss the legislative practice. Study of all these leads us to conclude that the reading advocated by Mr. Justice Story is the correct one. While, therefore, the power to tax is not unlimited, its confines are set in the clause which confers it, and not in those of section 8 which bestow and define the legislative powers of the Congress. It results that the power of Congress to authorize expenditure of public moneys for public purposes is not limited by the direct grants of legislative power found in the Constitution.

      But the adoption of the broader construction leaves the power to spend subject to limitations.

      As Story says: ‘The Constitution was, from its very origin, contemplated to be the frame of a national government, of special and enumerated powers, and not of general and unlimited powers.’13

      Again he says: ‘A power to lay taxes for the common defence and general welfare of the United States is not in common sense a general power. It is limited to those objects. It cannot constitutionally transcend them.’14

      That the qualifying phrase must be given effect all advocates of broad construction admit. Hamilton in his

      Page 67

      well known Report on Manufactures, states that the purpose must be ‘general, and not local.’15 Monroe, an advocate of Hamilton’s doctrine, wrote: ‘Have Congress a right to raise and appropriate the money to any and to every purpose according to their will and pleasure? They certainly have not.’16 Story says that if the tax be not proposed for the common defense or general welfare, but for other objects wholly extraneous, it would be wholly indefensible upon constitutional principles.17 And he makes it clear that the powers of taxation and appropriation extend only to matters of national, as distinguished from local, welfare.

    2. It’s more or less synonymous with the phrase “public goods” on a word-by-word basis, yes?

    3. I can tell you that it sure as shit did not mean handing out checks to people for sitting on their asses, and certainly not paying them even more for having reproduced.

      I have no doubt that they meant for the general good and well-being of the country, but I also have no doubt that their understanding of that was quite different than most people’s today.

      First, the “general welfare” we’re talking about is NOT the one in the preamble – the preamble is merely that: an introduction to explain what the document is and the reasons that motivated them to write it, and it does not empower the federal government to do anything. The general welfare clause in Article I, Section 8, in contrast, expressly authorizes Congress to impose taxes, duties, imposts and excises “to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.”

      In this context, I feel relatively confident that “the general welfare of the United States” means expenditures that are necessary and proper for the country as a whole. I also believe, however, that the notion of what actions are within Congress’s power as expenditures that are necessary and proper for the “general welfare” of the United States must be understood as those that are consistent with the specifically enumerated powers in Art. I, Sec. 8. Because if it meant Congress can spend money for whatever it thinks is good for the country, then the rest of Art. I, Sec. 8, which set forth specific, limited powers of Congress, would be mere surplusage and completely unnecessary. Since the general rule of construction is that all language is presumed to have effect and be consistent with other language, this can’t be the right result. So it can’t be the case that the Framers understood the power of Congress to collect taxes to provide for the general welfare of the U.S. to mean that Congress could just spend whatever money on whatever it thought was a good idea. It can spend that money in pursuit of the express powers set forth in Art. I, Sec. 8.

      1. it sure as shit did not mean handing out checks to people for sitting on their asses
        Two things:
        1) The states do welfare, not the fed [but see #2]. People on here talk a lot about the constitution but misapply (almost all of) it to the states.

        States absolutely have the authority to create welfare programs, even under libertarian (and esp. states’ rights) views. States decide for themselves what they can do, as long as it’s not on a very short list of expressly forbidden powers, such as treaties and maritime law. [And certain amendments.]
        The idea is, if you don’t want your state to pay welfare, you should vote and agitate against it, or else move to another state. But it’s not “unconstitutional” or proscribed.
        (When you find that state to move to, let me know.)

        2) To the extent that the fed does subsidize state welfare or pays medicare or social security…the federal government has the unquestioned ability to do that if they desire. It’s not unconstitutional for them to help people (or whatever they call it).

        The only constitutional question is whether they have the right to force me to give them my money to allow them to hand out checks.

        1. —“It’s not unconstitutional for them to help people”—

          “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
          — James Madison

          He should know as he wrote most of it.

          1. Most of what Madison wrote was rejected. He presented a plan for a national government which at first was received favorably.

            1. Madison is considered by most scholars as the “Author of the Constitution” and wrote about one-third of the Federalist Papers supporting Ratification.

        2. Uh they do? I’m well aware that most state constitutions say some such, but they don’t have that right, it’s just something thugs do, and codify it.

          This is from my state’s constitution (Maryland)….

          Art. 43. That the Legislature ought to encourage the diffusion of knowledge and virtue, the extension of a judicious system of general education, the promotion of literature, the arts, sciences, agriculture, commerce and manufactures, and the general melioration of the condition of the People.

          but then there’s this…Article 1. That all Government of right originates from the People, is founded in compact only, and instituted solely for the good of the whole

          doesn’t good of the whole mean no special privileges? Yet somehow people are entitled to benefit from my labor.

          Yeah, I know, “good of the whole” means whatever you want it to mean.

    4. It was intended to allow the government to collect taxes for the purposes of maintaining government functionality. The only other time the term “general welfare” is in the preamble to the constitution. The preamble is a statement of purpose and does not confer any power to the government. Since a stated purpose of the constitution is to provide for the general welfare, then the reference to “general welfare” in this clause is meant to state that tax collection would be necessary to fulfill the protections defined in the constitution. In other words, the use of the phrases “common defence” and “general welfare” are allusions to the preamble and do not define any new power other than to complete the clause that allows the government to lay and collect taxes.

      I dont know where this is indicated on the internet, but that said, most constitutional google searches are likely to drum up articles written in context of legal precedent rather than historical or textual context as the former is much more popular than the latter.

  6. Giving Congress the wide-ranging authority to “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper” to provide for the “general Welfare,” for instance, gives every do-gooder who can cobble together 50 percent-plus-one of the vote the authority to define the common good.

    There’s a wide chasm between “providing for the General Welfare” and “imposing it.” The distinction is, unfortunately, lost in the minds of politicians.

    Under what authority does government dictate the parameters of marriage, for instance?

    None, which is why previous conservative politicians were talking about a marriage definition constitutional amendment (a dumb idea in itself). At least they were being more respectful of the constitution than Obama, Sustein and Nancy “Deer-In-Headlights” Pelosi.

    1. The point is also that the marriage amendment was brought up only because judges were finding a right to gay marriage that had eluded previous generations. Slippery sucker, those rights that the people drafting the document didn’t even realize were there.

      1. Is there a right to any kind of marriage in the constitution as the founders wrote it?

        1. Most of the routine, daily, individual liberties that we take for granted are not mentioned in any way in the Constitution – other than, perhaps, in the vaguely written “ink blot” (tm Judge Bork) of the 9th Amendment.

        2. No, marriage is a religious institution. You go down to your local church/mosque/synagogue to get it. Government really has no more business providing it than they do providing tires for your car. Wonder why people never sued over the marriage license thing under violation of the establishment clause.

          1. No, marriage is a religious institution.

            Marriage is a cultural institution. Religion must necessarily reinforce the existing culture, else it would not survive.

            1. right. look at the fact that nearly every society that ever existed on the face of the earth evolved some concept of marriage that we would recognize.

              they also evolved (often quite different) religion(s). but the latter did not create the former.

              the latter offered rules about the former, but religion tends to make rules about everything. that’s kind of its schtick

              1. they also evolved (often quite different) religion(s). but the latter did not create the former

                Either way, government has no business granting legitimacy to your marriages. Whether religion or culture created marriage, and which exerts a greater effect on it is irrelevant.

        3. Anything involving more than one person is not a Right. Rights are possessed by individuals, not groups, not two people taken together. Why is this so hard for some to understand?

          1. People have a right to interact with others as they so choose, and others possess the same right.

            This means: I have a right to interact–as a group.

            Of course, groups do not have exclusive rights i.e. black rights, women’s rights. Human beings have rights, and every minority (including the majority) possess those same rights.

            1. Individuals have a Right to associate with other individuals. If a bunch of individuals associate with one another to form a group, the group does not acquire Rights. My point stands.

      2. Our rights were not spelled out in the Constitution. There is no requirement to find a right in the Constitution in order for it to be a right. I have a right to sell apples to someone willing to enter into an exchange agreement with me, but you won’t find that written into the Constitution. Same goes for marriage – marriage between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a tree, whatever. Marriage is only a civil ceremony because the state needs to know how to hand out the spoils of its loot. I believe marriage is a religious institution, sanctioned by God. However, I do not care nor do I feel it to be within my power to prevent someone else from feeling the he should marry his car or his dog.

        1. This was what I was getting at with my question. Well put.

          1. One of my o’s disappeared…

        2. You’re right – but if it’s not in there, it’s likely to be “lost” over the years. It’s a pretty big fight just to hold on to the rights that are spelled out, let alone the ones that are not.

      3. —“those rights that the people drafting the document didn’t even realize were there”—

        Amendment IX—The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

        1. Amendment IX—The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

          How are those ‘others’ defined? How can they not be denied if we don’t know what they are?

          1. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    2. Old Mexican you are cutting the clause short, it’s…”general Welfare of the United States”, the United States, not the people of the United States, and the power is tax, not makes laws for the general welfare of the United States.

      I think that you’ve seen others cut this clause off, and distort it so badly, that you’re reading it the way others have used it.

  7. “Republicans are talking about trying to return to Constitutional basis on new laws they write. Quick! Let’s bitch and moan about how they aren’t doing it enough! It wouldn’t be Reason if we, ya know, agreed with some of the actions that politicians may do!”

    1. drink?

      Also, why is your comment in quotes? Are you quoting yourself?

      1. For a poster named “Goobs”…

  8. Cato should offer free courses in Constitutional Law to anyone in Congress, including staffers. With free food and drink.

    1. Acceptance of free stuff would violate Congressional Ethics Guidelines. (try not to laugh)

      1. I’m sure there’s a way around that. Invite their spouses or something.

      2. What if we tell them we’re not giving it for free, we’re bribing them with it?

  9. “Republicans are talking about trying to return to Constitutional basis on new laws they write. Quick! Let’s bitch and moan about how they aren’t doing it enough! It wouldn’t be Reason if we, ya know, agreed with some of the actions that politicians may do!”

  10. As I note in http://blog.mises.org/9837/ran…..amendment/ , this comment by Joe Sobran is great:

    “What we need is an amendment forbidding the circumvention of the Constitution. It could read: “The Constitution shall not be circumvented. ” I just got a big laugh from any lawyers who may be reading this.”

    1. Or even better: “It means what it says. That is all.”

    2. Actually, we could get that result more effectively if we had an clause that said that if any law is deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, then anyone who voted for or signed the law would not be eligible for re-election or appointment to any federal office.

  11. Mass ignorance of the Constitution by America’s citizens, not its elected leaders, is the cause of its death. I would be surprised if 10% of American adults knew a damn thing about it – when it was written, the Preamble, Bill of Rights, etc.

    1. Maybe if snookie, or some other fucking dipshit TV or movie star had to read it before each show or movie. . .

  12. Fucking Constitution- how do it work?

    1. It’s like magnets, only different.

      1. Insane Constitution Posse?

    2. But its got electrolytes. . . its got what plants crave.

  13. We have a Constitution?

  14. All elected officials should be required to pass a test on the constitution. I bet most could not even pass the one given to immigrents who are becoming citizens. (You know, the legal way?)

  15. it sure as shit did not mean handing out checks to people for sitting on their asses
    Two things:
    1) The states do welfare, not the fed

    You might want to look into Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits, the fact that Medicaid is about 70% federally funded, etc. ad trillionatum.

  16. The constitution was a great document back when it was written. Things were different then, it was a simpler time. They didn’t have a war on drugs that needed to be fought. It is a living document that changes to mean what we need it to mean over time.

    1. Well said. You sound just like some of the college educated liberals I get into arguments with.

      1. Is he serious???

        1. Jim IS serious. You don’t mess around with Jim .

  17. Constitutional fetishism has a few flaws:

    The constitution isn’t a sacred text, though the right treats it as such. Countries with no constitution at all (like Britain) do just fine, while countries with written constitutions modeled on the American one (like certain Latin American countries) can be prone to having very bad governments. It’s a tool, not a holy book.

    Second, those claiming the loudest that they’re being the strictest adherents to the constitution are those who happen to find all of their policy preferences in the constitution. And they’re hypocrites about it. Take Antonin Scalia, who recently said that the 14th amendment doesn’t apply to women. Of course he was perfectly happy to apply it to white male George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore.

    Constitutional fetishism is a way for someone (usually on the right) to claim, without substantiation, that his policy preferences are sanctioned by the constitution and others’ are not. That we have someone on the supreme court dealing in such obvious duplicity is highly irritating.

    1. The UK most certainly does have a constitution. There it is a tradition, bound up in law, of limited government. It’s not as limited as ours, perhaps in part due to the fact that we have rules that are harder to change, but it’s still a constitution in the legal sense.

      The Romans had a similar constitution.

      If you oppose constitutions, what you really oppose is the concept of defined or limited government. There’s really no way out of that. You might as well say that every person gets a vote on everything, and there are no limits on majoritarian power. Of course, that would quickly break down into some individuals seizing power, but at least it would’ve happened democratically to begin with.

      1. I’m absolutely in favor of limits on majority rule, through a constitution or whatever. I’m not opposed to constitutions, I just don’t think they should be worshiped as sacred texts.

        I think people who make arguments for a particular policy change should start at the policy, not the constitution. If it’s a good enough policy, then making it law is just a matter or process, whether that’s a majority referendum, a vote in Congress, or a constitutional amendment, whatever is necessary.

        1. It’s not a sacred text. Few libertarians, for instance, would argue that it wasn’t flawed. After all, we’re in the mess we’re in due to the Constitution arguably not going far enough or being clear enough.

          Without agreement on foundational principles and structure, a republic can’t hold on to the thing it needs more to survive: legitimacy. If government is totally arbitrary and capricious–whether exercised by a tyrant or the masses–people are simply not going to play ball over the long term. We face some dangers of that today, with regulation and legislation reaching near-Biblical levels of complexity.

          1. Yeah it definitely seems prudent to have a solid foundation to government that can’t be capriciously altered.

          2. …reaching near-Biblical levels of complexity

            Jesus defined the entire book in two sentences:

            “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

            The second is this:

            “Love your neighbor as yourself”

            Like the constitution, it ain’t that hard to understand (unless you’re trying to get around it, that is, then apparently being over “100 years old” makes it incomprehensible…)

            1. Right, it’s pretty simple

              Federal government – external matters

              State governments – internal matters

            2. The Bible is infinitely more difficult to interpret than the constitution (especially since it is often self-contradictory). Yet we still require a judicial branch to interpret the latter, and it’s hardly been an uncontroversial process.

              1. It isn’t self-contradictory.

                The hardest part about understanding the constitution is realizing it has severe limits and that you have to convice a lot of people that what you want is the right thing to do — much eaiser to just make it up as you go along.

              2. “The Bible is infinitely more difficult to interpret”

                Especially that part about the goat and the carpet seller. Sheesh, that always confuses me.

      2. If you oppose constitutions, what you really oppose is the concept of defined or limited government.

        I am sure Tony gives a shit about limited government. More importantly at least in Tony’s demented world opposing the constitution means you oppose liberalism. ie rights that the state cannot take from you.

        This is just more evidence that Tony is not a liberal.

    2. The constitution isn’t a sacred text…

      True. That ‘rights’ crap is such a nuisance.

      1. Rights are magical either.

    3. Tony is up on parroting all the Democrat memes.

      Constitutional fetisism” is the new buzz phrase that all the lefty troops are regurgitating now.

    4. To talk about “Constitutional fetishism” in an era when the fundamental intentions of the document or ignored on a routine basis is nutty. Is it fetishism to expect that the government actually adhere to the law of the land? The meanings and intentions of the Constitution has been so far distorted and the federal government has taken powers onto to itself so far beyond those granted by the Constitution it just sounds ridiculous to even invoke the epithet “Constitutional fetishism”.

    5. Coming from someone like you who fetishizes government, Tony, it’s getting more and more difficult to not laugh off the ass when you post.

  18. And no matter how many times you guys assert otherwise, the constitution is not a libertarian document. It is not about limited government. It was written for the exact opposite purpose: to strengthen the federal government. All of the self-proclaimed constitutional scholars claiming it’s a document that sanctions libertarian or Republican policy preferences and nothing else have either not read the document or are lying.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with having libertarian policy preferences, but there is no need to pretend that the constitution gives them an imprimatur. That’s not honest debate, that’s a form of intimidation. The way a preacher tells you how to live because the Bible says so. Just argue the case for your policy preferences, stop pretending they are extra magical.

    1. This is also totally wrong. Forget about all of the reams of supporting statements and scholarship (even leftwing scholars don’t generally dispute the nature of the Constitution) that establish that the Constitution sets out enumerated, limited powers for the the federal government, just read the thing. It’s so obvious as to call into question the motives of anyone who argues otherwise.

      On top of that, if you mean that the states decided that the federal government could stand to be stronger than it was under the Articles, well, yes, but they didn’t go from 1 to 11. They went up to maybe 3.5.

      One of the reasons–perhaps the only real reason–libertarians get lumped in with conservatives is that we do prefer the more limited government embodied in the Constitution. So yes, we get to legitimately claim that we’re more philosophically aligned with the Founders. Tough shit, huh?

      1. That is highly debatable, and my point is that it’s completely irrelevant. Who gives a shit whether you are in sync with the founders–they were not gods. I’m just asking you to defend your policy preferences based on how they would make society better, not because the constitution or founders require it. First of all, it’s not anything like 100% clear what the constitution or founders would prefer. Second, the constitution can be amended. There’s nothing wrong with having a policy preference that requires amending the constitution, as it’s not a sacred text.

        But it’s also true that conservatives and libertarians like to ignore large chunks of the constitution, not to mention centuries of case law precedents. And that is really what determine what the constitution means–not a psychic connection with its dead authors.

        So you propose that the country has been living in sin for most of its existence, with all those unconstitutional laws. I say, if case law precedent, being the only thing that actually has the authority to say what the constitution means at a given time, sanctions those laws, then they are by definition constitutional. You haven’t been winning that argument–just the one that exists inside your head.

        1. Do you mean case law like Plessy v Ferguson?

          Which directly contradicted the 13th & 14th amendments that had been in effect for thirty years when that decision came down.

          That kind of case law?

          And if that case law was the infallible final word on the meaning of those amendments, why was it reversed fifty odd years later?

          Jackass!

          1. Who said anything about it being infallible?

            You people should stop trying to find a deity at the center of everything.

            1. you people

              1. Hey this is not the place for oversensitive liberals and your oppressive political correctness.

        2. “I’m just asking you to defend your policy preferences based on how they would make society better, not because the constitution or founders require it.”
          Jesus. H. F-ing. Christ.

    2. The libertarian leanings of the Constitution are not the issue, being able to freely engage in certain actions is the issue. I want Wickard (or Fillburn, can’t remember which one) to be freely able to grow wheat without government interference. That his choice affects interstate commerce and drives down the price of wheat or affects a farmer elsewhere is irrelevant. That some farmer may go bankrupt, and another business my benefit from the money Wickard saved by growing his own wheat is equally as irrelevant. The economic results may be disheartening to some, but Congress has no business interjecting itself into them. Results-based jurisprudence, which we find detestable with such things such as free speech (ie, arrest a newspaper editor for criticizing dear leader), is equally as detestable with commerce (ie, make him buy his wheat because he might drive the price down otherwise). The Constitution originally provided for this ability, but was soon usurped by the central planners. The liberty of contract provided for this, but has been conveniently ignored. We need Randy Barnett’s Bill of Federalism more than ever.

      1. I would say that I agree that commerce should be as unrestricted as possible, as long as it’s sufficiently regulated to prevent abuses. But I wouldn’t say the constitution demands that, necessarily. The constitution is more a power-giving document than a power-restricting one.

    3. It is not about limited government. It was written for the exact opposite purpose: to strengthen the federal government.

      Yes it is about limited government and ‘limited’ meant the create a union of the existing states so they would speak with one voice to foreign entities. It was to create a kind of ‘free trade’ zone (thought they didn’t call it that) including all the states. If it was to forward *unlimited* government it would not be needed to begin with.

      1. Without a constitution (or some other form of a national social contract), there would be no federal government, so it’s hard to see how it would achieve power at all, let alone unlimited power. The constitution’s express purpose was to make the central government stronger than before.

        It doesn’t possess magical powers that would deter a tyrant (why would a tyrant care what it says?). Though, in the process of creating a strong central government, it does provide for limitations on it so that it is sustainable and accountable to the people. That’s not the same thing as saying the constitution establishes a libertarian form of government.

        1. It doesn’t possess magical powers that would deter a tyrant (why would a tyrant care what it says?).

          Oh, we know… believe us, we know.

        2. That’s not the same thing as saying the constitution establishes a libertarian form of government.

          But in all seriousness, it does not possess magical powers, but what it does is deny any one person or branch of government those types of powers. No, the constitution doesn’t establish a libertarian government, it establishes an extremely limited form of government with balanced and clearly enumerated powers– and a bill of rights which, if you read carefully is essentially a treatise on what government can’t do.

          Remember, Tyrants don’t just seize powers, they must be granted those powers. Even if they attempt to seize power by force, the force itself must be granted to the tyrant. Otherwise the tyrant looks pretty stupid standing on the podium screaming out his decrees while no one listens.

          So no, it’s not a libertarian government, it’s a government that pays the highest respect to liberty, which libertarians kind of, you know, lean toward.

          “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” –Thomas Jefferson

          1. I agree that it’s supposed to create a government that respects individual rights. Though, interestingly, even as the scope of federal power has increased with time, individual rights have also expanded to cover more people.

            I just disagree that the constitution “establishes an extremely limited form of government.” It establishes a very powerful federal government, in fact. It just, smartly, provides for certain checks on that power.

            “Limited” after all is a relative term. Relative to anything that came before in this territory, it is the strongest government that has ever existed.

            1. Though, interestingly, even as the scope of federal power has increased with time, individual rights have also expanded to cover more people.

              Interesting use of symantecs. I would argue that that individual rights weren’t so much expanded, but institutional discrimination was reduced, allowing the individual rights the constitution spelled out, quite clearly, to be properly applied.

              I just disagree that the constitution “establishes an extremely limited form of government.” It establishes a very powerful federal government, in fact. It just, smartly, provides for certain checks on that power.

              I don’t see how you could come to that conclusion when reading the text. The enumerated powers are an embarassing treatise on what the federal government only has the power to do. What it did do (which libertarians have to come to grips with at some point) was establish “laboratories of democracy” within the states.

              Wiki has a pretty decent description:

              The 10th Amendment states that all prerogatives not vested in the federal government nor prohibited of the states are reserved to the states and to the people, which means that the only prerogatives of the Congress (as well as the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch) are limited to those explicitly stated in the Constitution.

              What that means is the states may be free to do decidedly un-libertarian things.

              Regardless, it did not establish a “powerful federal government”. For instance, here’s James Madison’s famous veto of a “public works bill” by Congress because any ‘public works funds’ could not be allocated as enumerated by the constitution. Mr. Madison writes:

              The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers, or that it falls by any just interpretation with the power to make laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution those or other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.

              “The power to regulate commerce among the several States” can not include a power to construct roads and canals, and to improve the navigation of water courses in order to facilitate, promote, and secure such commerce without a latitude of construction departing from the ordinary import of the terms strengthened by the known inconveniences which doubtless led to the grant of this remedial power to Congress.

              Clearly, not the mark of an all-powerful federal government.

              The commerce clause, for instance, was not a doctrine allowing congress to regulate individual behavior across the nation. On the contrary, it was designed to maintain the U.S. as a free trade zone, not allowing States to collude or place undue restrictions on commerce.

              Again, the idea was a limit to government power (in this case, a limit to that of the states), not a declaration a monopoly upon it.

              1. Again, it doesn’t really matter to me what the Commerce Clause was designed for, or what one founder’s opinion of it was. You should explain why we ought to go back to a certain understanding and why that would be good. Something isn’t good just because the founders thought it or the constitution spells it out. Your (and Madison’s) understanding obviously hasn’t prevailed in case law. That doesn’t mean we’re living in a lawless hellhole, it means the system itself has determined that the constitution means something other than what you think it does.

                1. the system itself has determined that the constitution means something other than what you think it does. Either it means what it means, or it means nothing.

                  Are you being serious here? The US constitution was an agreement between certain parties (the states) to have a common government (the United States/federal government) for certain expressed purposes, with limited and declared powers for such. Without those parties agreeing to changes per their agreement (Article V, amendments) those elected under that authority are under that authority, not authorities above it, and as such may do only what the US constitution says they may do.

                  The federal government is to act as the states agent, much as a lawyer would, and may not determine for itself what the US constitution says. It is just stupid (though factually true) to say that the system has determined the US constitution to say something other than what it does. If “the system” says I am the property of others it that then OK? No. People are corrupt or lazy, or dumb (your situation) and will do wrong to others, but you say that’s ok because it’s “the system”.

                  1. To add, just because certain parties have been able to violate the agreement, and continually get away with, does that make it legitimate? Obviously not when you disagree with the results, but how is that an objective standard?

                    1. But what objective authority are you appealing to? Your own opinion? What Congress does is legitimate if the prescribed means of determining legitimacy do so. There is no other way. You can say you’d prefer that the system be different, but as long as the courts determine its actions legal, Congress is not violating any higher principle, since there is no such thing.

                    2. Well, the country was in fact founded on the basis of some higher principle as described in the Declaration. I would hold that there is a higher, abiding principle that must apply regardless of what the Constitution may say or may be interpreted to say. Imagine if we follow your argument to any of a thousand logical conclusions. The Constitution can and has been interpreted in such a way in some cases that law has been made which runs directly contrary to its obvious intention. “…shall not be infringed” has interpreted to mean “…shall be infringed.” and so on.

                      Technically, the court is the final arbiter of the meaning of the Constitution, but when that interpretation runs directly contrary to the spirit of the “higher principle” on which the country was supposedly based – the notion that we are granted by our creator (whatever that may mean to any particular individual) certain inalienable rights, then it loses any legitimacy and none of us are legitimately subject to it.

                    3. Ha, I wrote “you people should stop trying to find a deity at the center of everything” above before even reading this.

                      Sorry, you lose the argument when you have to appeal to sky fairies.

                    4. But you’re still loyal to the sky fairies here, right, Tony?

        3. Well Tony you don’t seem to care one bit what the Constitution says……Does that make you a tyrant?

          …..Hey everyone Tonie’s Liberal is showing…..

    4. So… government should have no limits, Tony? Or should it only have limits when Team Blue is in the minority?

      1. Oh look FIFY is setting up a strawman. It must be a day of the week.

        1. Answer the goddamned question, prick. Or are you afraid?

          1. Yes, governments should have limits.

            1. FINally.

              Now… howzabout your party live by those limits, Tony?

              1. OH, hell, here it comes…

            2. Only when Team Blue is in power!

              1. Only when Team Red is in power!

                1. CRIPPLE FIGHT!!!!!!

                  1. I love reading this site, but when the choice is between a group of people who believe the government shouldn’t have the power to tie its shoes and those who think the people shouldn’t be left to the wolves of the free market, who do you think is going to win?

                    I hope those of you who believe in only the strictest interpretation of the Constitution aren’t living west of the Mississippi. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Purchase

                    As long as we’re at it, I hope you aren’t living in the South.

                    Or you aren’t black, although I suspect the crowd here is intelligent enough to realize that race is a construct and the amendment process legitimate; unless its the 16th, because you know, the intentions of the founding fathers.

                    Look, I appreciate where you guys are coming from; the federal government is clearly overstepping its original mandate, but it has from the start.

    5. Negative rights are bad.

    6. Not that there’s anything wrong with having libertarian policy preferences, but there is no need to pretend that the constitution gives them an imprimatur. That’s not honest debate, that’s a form of intimidation… and if any form of government is allowed to intimidate, it’s MINE.

  19. So, because the Constitution has become too complex for many of us to decipher…

    This is a pretty remarkable feat considering the bulk of it has barely changed.

    1. Perhaps a better way of phrasing it is “Because government schools are barely teaching students to read and write, let alone understand historical or legal context …”

  20. “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

    Lysander Spooner

    1. That’s actually a pretty stupid statement. The Constitution itself does not have ‘power’. That resides in those willing to uphold it (or trash it). When people start making up the rules as we go and change them when it pleases, we stop being a nation.

      1. When people start making up the rules as we go and change them when it pleases, we stop being a nation the government loses its legitimacy.

  21. Constitution? Isn’t that the thing Lincoln and the Reconstruction congress threw away?

    After all if powers are delegated/granted, how can holding a gun to someone’s head and saying ” sign here” be considered delegating.

  22. The appearance of the law must be maintained at all times… especially while it is being broken.

    1. Oddly, that’s exactly why so much lip service is paid to it by those who want to destroy limited government. The seeming contradiction is explained by the fact that the Constitution is, in many respects, simply a religious icon of the state, rather than a still-active foundational document.

  23. Considering that the Founding Fathers were terrorists and this land was stolen, first from the natives, then from legitimate British rule, the Constitution should be dead. Thankfully, America is back in the right hands, unbeknown to its peasants. Of course, you guys can pretend you’re still free, technology has a tendency to do enable such feelings.

    Consider yourself owned by the East India Trading Company.

  24. The glibness sarcasm and irony of this piece are so blurred and over used that it makes the whole thing unreadable.

    Nice try though and i applaud the effort. Still the result sucks. Nothing I can say positive about it will change that fact.

  25. Is there a difference between “provide” and “promote”? As in “provide for the common defence” possibly meaning to actually do it; contrasted with “promote the general Welfare” possibly meaning to set in place the conditions for welfare to flourish throughout the land. Does anyone think that the Founders maybe could have just possibly intended a distinction. Otherwise why use different verbs?

    1. To liberals, “promoting” welfare = “giving money to able-bodied people”.

      1. Whereas we respect the true meaning of the Constitution, by giving money to able-bodied & wealthy people.

        1. You mean “not taking more of it in the first place”, right?

  26. Nice try though and i applaud the effort.

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  28. The only thing most liberals like about the Constitution, is that it’s written on hemp-based paper.

    NTTAWWT.

  29. …just galled the fuck out of some of these bastards to have to swear/affirm to uphold the very Constitution they’re busy bitching about…

    1. Dammit! One of my staffers must be a right-winger… that was gonna be a topic on my show!

      1. We’re all in Jim’s basement, rooting for you, Ed!

        1. Ewww! Musty old paper with flowery scribblings from long-dead rich white slave owners!

  30. You wrote ‘Giving Congress the wide-ranging authority to “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper” to provide for the “general Welfare,” ‘
    Please read the Constitution again – it says to “promote”, not “provide for”, the general welfare.
    I agree that it is confusing, especially if it is misquoted.
    Malcolm
    For reference: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
    Section 8 addresses the Powers of Congress, e.g., lay and collect taxes uniformly: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
    This does not authorize congress to provide for the general welfare.

  31. Perhaps, Democrats, who evidently know the Constitution so well that they have no need of hearing it read, can find the “Good and Welfare Clause” and “Good and Plenty Clause.” John Conyers said that both are in the Constitution and he is a Democrat, a lawyer, and has been in Congress for 46 years. Surely, Congressman Conyers is correct. I am, supposedly, just a dumb subject amongst the unwashed masses.

    “Under several clauses, the GOOD AND WELFARE CLAUSE and a couple others. All the scholars, the constitutional scholars that I know — I’m chairman of the Judiciary committee, as you know — they all say that there’s nothing unconstitutional in this bill and if there were, I would have tried to correct it if I thought there were.” – John Conyers

    “The government is empowered to do anything it deems necessary or useful under the ‘GOOD AND PLENTY’ CLAUSE. The Founding Fathers were wise enough to realize they couldn’t foresee the kinds of powers that would be needed in the future. So, they created language in that pretty much says we can do whatever we want if we think it’s for the benefit of the people. Forcing people to buy health insurance surely falls within this broad grant of authority.” – John Conyers

    http://hotair.com/archives/201…..re-clause/

    http://www.cnsnews.com/node/63182

    OK, libbies, are you “Good and Ready” to find the “Good and Welfare” and “Good and Plenty” Clauses? Are they before or after the “Three Musketeers,” “Kit-Kat” and “Snickers” Clauses?

  32. P.J. O’Rourke’s rules for governing are simple and beautiful, but can you imagine the “business” that the Fed’s could create for themselves if we did not specify EVERY SINGLE CONTINGENT from now to ETERNITY!

  33. “Perhaps the flaw in the document is its ambiguity rather than its complexity. Giving Congress the wide-ranging authority to “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper” to provide for the “general Welfare,” for instance, gives every do-gooder who can cobble together 50 percent-plus-one of the vote the authority to define the common good.”

    Guess the author can’t read any better than those who convolute the Constitution.

    There is no “general Welfare” clause. There is a specific clause that restricts Cognressional spending to the “general Welfare of the United States“. The United States is a Body-politic and rather than this being some blanket statement, the Framers restricted expenditures to the general welfare of the entirety, not to pieces or parts and certainly not to anything Congress just happens to decide is the general welfare. Is the general welfare the welfare of a single person or a single state? Half the people or half the states? Or is it EVERYONE?

    The “all laws necessary and proper” is restrictive NOT expansive. THINK. Why did the Framers have to include ANY statement granting Congress the power to pass laws after they gave Congress certain powers. If you think anything, think, “WOW. Congress didn’t even have the authority to pass laws to carry into execution the delegated powers UNTIL this clause was included.” AND why didn’t the Framers just say Congress can pass all the laws they want to carry into execution the foregoing powers rather than to place the restictions that the laws by BOTH necessary AND proper?

    Freaking ejits lacking logical language processing skills.

    I have yet to find people who don’t just take clauses out of context, without considering the entire Constitution and the interrelationships among the clauses. People who do this remind me of bible thumpers who grab fragments of that document and foul up the meaning.

    Our government schools drive the desire to learn out of those who attend them. A 2 yr old constantly asks Why? After graduating HS, there is not 1 in 10,000 that still ask that question. Ask “Why is that in there and why does it say what it does and not say something else?”

  34. I have to add the quote…

    “the issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago.”

    Really? I hate to borrow from Microsoft’s recent ad campaign, but … Really?

    What is so confusing to him about the Constitution? Perhaps, just perhaps, he hasn’t read it recently…

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  36. Get government replica uggs out of education and kids will get educated or fake uggs for sale not, as their parents desire. More of them will actually become educated without government than do now with it.

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