A step over the line
Published Tue, Oct 9 2007 9:25 AM
Technorati Tags: Courts, Federalism, States Rights, Founders
I'm sure that if you've read my rantings here you've figured out by now that I think the federal government has amassed considerably more power than it was ever authorized under the constitution. I'd like to see a return to the government our constitution authorized.
I'd also like to think that I'm a realist. It just isn't going to happen in my lifetime. At least, not without more people thinking about what the constitution actually says instead of what they want it to mean.
Our constitution was designed to limit the powers of the federal government to only those necessary to bind the states into a single nation so that it could put a unified face before the world. Governance and provision for the people was a power that was left to the states.
Today the left wants the federal government to provide ever more and more social services, at the expense of the richest of the taxpayers. Things like social security, medicare, and the SChip program are not things that the federal government has any business providing.
Whether these programs are beneficial or not isn't the point. Whether they are popular or not isn't the point. The federal government has exceeded its authority and usurped powers that rightly belong to the states to provide them.
If these programs provide benefit to the people, and if the people really want them, then they aught to be provided by the states, with programs tailored to the needs of the individual states. The federal constitution reserves the power to do this to the states.
Thomas Jefferson understood this. The PatriotPost's Founders Quote Daily quotes him regarding the foundation of our government.
"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, not longer susceptible of any definition."
-- Thomas Jefferson (Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, 15 February 1791)
Sadly, that single step was taken long ago when the supreme court declared a "property right" in an appointed office. The court declared that it had no jurisdiction in that case, but went on to establish for itself a role that the constitution did not give it, that of final arbiter of how the constitution should be interpreted.
It's too bad that Alexander Hamilton was wrong when he wrote Federalist #81. He was trying to respond to the objection that
"The authority of the proposed Supreme Court of the United States, which is to be a separate and independent body, will be superior to that of the legislature. The power of construing the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution will enable that court to mould them into whatever shape it may think proper; especially as its decisions will not be in any manner subject to the revision or correction of the legislative body. This is as unprecedented as it is dangerous. ... But the errors and usurpations of the Supreme Court of the United States will be uncontrollable and remediless."
He stated that
This upon examination, will be found to be made up altogether of false reasoning upon misconceived fact.
In the first place, there is not a syllable in the plan under consideration which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution, or which gives them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed by the courts of every State.
The case of Marbury v Madison proved him wrong regarding the "false reasoning". All it took was a single chief justice to decide that a power never granted to the court in fact belonged to it.
That single step over the line was the beginning of a judicial oligarchy that has replaced our republic. A small group of unelected and essentially unaccountable men and women now have complete authority over the federal, state, and local governments.
The congress takes on powers that were never granted to it and the supreme court aids and abets them. Congress authorizes social programs that are the province of the states and the supreme court looks on with approval. Congress enacts laws that restrict our freedom of political speech (McCain-Feingold comes to mind) and the supreme court blesses them.
And now nothing restrains the federal government from taking power that does not belong to it.
Cross posted at NW Bloggers.
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