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THE POWERS OF CONGRESS

 

By Michael LeMieux
March 13, 2010
NewsWithViews.com

What are the powers of Congress? Can they do anything they want or are they supposed to be constrained in what they do?

We have all aware of the oaths that our legislators take to support and defend the Constitution. And logic would tell us that if the federal government was created by a Constitution and that constitution establishes powers and limitations on that government then that is what they should be guided by. But is that really happening?

Let’s take a look at one specific area of the constitution that most of you know as the interstate commerce clause. It is found in Article 1, Section 8, clause 4:
“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; “

If you notice there is not one mention of “interstate commerce” that we hear bandied about by politicians today. The term interstate commerce is a contrivance used as an expanded definition of the term to “regulate commerce… among the several states.” This begs the question – Did the founders, when writing the Constitution, mean “interstate commerce” or something totally different?

Let’s start with the plain language of the paragraph: “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States…” It states that Congress has the power to regulate Commerce first in the list with foreign Nations and also among the several states. Can Congress establish a minimum wage for foreign nations? Can Congress establish work conditions for foreign nations? Can Congress establish minimum age restrictions on foreign nations? Can Congress pass any law on a foreign Nation?

Obviously the answer is no. The framers never imagined that this clause ever intended Congress to make regulations to govern the work ethic within the several states, or establish labor standards across state lines.

Thomas Jefferson stated: “To make a thing which may be bought and sold is not to prescribe regulations for buying and selling. Besides, if this were an exercise of the power of regulating commerce, it would be void, as extending as much to the internal commerce of every state, as to its external.”

Blacks Law Dictionary, Seventh Edition defines commerce as: “The exchange of goods and services, esp. on a large scale involving transportation between cities, states, and nations.” Notice the Constitution speaks only of commerce and not industry.

So even here Congress’ only valid power is to regulate the exchange of goods and services among the several states. The means of regulating commerce prior to the Constitution was in laying duties and imposts. By setting certain taxes they would either encourage or discourage business within their states to expand desired commodities and industry. But it was also used to stifle trade of neighboring states by taxing them for traveling through the state. This created unfair trade for the neighboring states and the states desired that the central government would regulate trade to be fair among all the states.

In an 1785 Madison wrote in his resolution for empowering Congress to regulate trade that: “no state be at liberty to impose duties on any goods, wares, or merchandise, imported, by land or by water, from any other state, but may altogether prohibit the importation from any state of any particular species or description of goods, wares, or merchandise, of which the importation is at the same time prohibited from all other places whatsoever.”

And what happens when the government expands beyond the defined enumerated power? Regardless of the reason any expansion of federal power is a reduction in either state or individual sovereignty for they are balanced and as one moves the other must give way.

Justice Story commented on the power to regulate commerce when he stated:

“The question comes to this, whether a power, exclusively for the regulation of commerce, is a power for the regulation of manufactures? The statement of such a question would seem to involve its own answer. Can a power, granted for one purpose, be transferred to another? If it can, where is the limitation in the constitution? Are not commerce and manufactures as distinct, as commerce and agriculture? If they are, how can a power to regulate one arise from a power to regulate the other?

It is true, that commerce and manufactures are, or may be, intimately connected with each other. A regulation of one may injuriously or beneficially affect the other. But that is not the point in controversy. It is, whether congress has a right to regulate that, which is not committed to it, under a power, which is committed to it, simply because there is, or may be an intimate connexion between the powers…


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If this were admitted, the enumeration of the powers of congress would be wholly unnecessary and nugatory. Agriculture, colonies, capital, machinery, the ages of labour, the profits of stock, the rents of land, the punctual performance of contracts, and the diffusion of knowledge would all be within the scope of the power; for all of them bear an intimate relation to commerce. The result would be, that the powers of congress would embrace the widest extent of legislative functions, to the utter demolition of all constitutional boundaries between the state and national governments.”

As we can see from Justice Story’s statement that we are experiencing today exactly what he warned about! The Congress today believes that it can regulate anything if a nexus to commerce can be made, whether actual or not. In fact many of you may or may not know that the rationale for keeping guns out of schools was founded under the logic of interstate commerce.

The case was 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.

Correctly, the Supreme Court did not see it this way. The Court determined that the Commerce Clause did allow the Federal Government broad lawmaking powers, but they were not unlimited powers, and they did not apply to carrying handguns. They further specified that there was no evidence that carrying handguns affected the economy on a massive scale.

However this is just one case and Congress has passed thousands of laws based on the commerce clause that has absolutely nothing to do with commerce and everything to do with control.

Today we are strapped with massive debt that is steadily climbing to feed a leviathan that has been built on unconstitutional expansion. If one would take the time to research every federal agency, department, and program they would find that more than half of the entire federal government is established outside the enumerated powers of Article 1, Section 8.

This expansion is not about programs and helping society it is about control. Control over every aspect of our lives. There is not one aspect of our lives that the federal government has not regulated from the food we eat, the education of our children, the cars we drive, the gas we use, the medicine we take and even the toilets we… well you know.

The bottom line is until we demand our government cease and desist from any further expansion of unconstitutional power and stop ALL unconstitutional programs and actions and return this government to one that is constrained by its Constitutional boundaries our lives will not improve and the oppression of the American people will only continue to grow.

It has happened in every society since the existence of man that as government gains more and more power it becomes more and more corrupt and will always end up subjugating the masses to control the upheaval of those longing for freedom. It is not too late but the countdown has begun.

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We must work within our states to demand they hold the federal government accountable. Nullify laws and abolish all unconstitutional programs from operating within the state. Demand apportioned taxes through the state and not directly from the people and to enforce such make it a criminal offense for any employer to withhold federal taxes from wages. Return control of education to the states and refuse any further federal funds. Etc, etc. Educate yourself, your family, your neighbors and your friends on the Constitution, both federal and state and stand up for what is right. Now is the time to be a true patriot to freedom and liberty.

2010 Michael LeMieux - All Rights Reserved

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Michael 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


 

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It has happened in every society since the existence of man that as government gains more and more power it becomes more and more corrupt and will always end up subjugating the masses to control the upheaval of those longing for freedom.