(Richard Scotti) – The legitimate and only authority of the federal government of a constitutional republic originates with the people – as codified by the Constitution. When Constitutions are ignored, the people are right to question what authority remains. When Constitutions are ignored, only tyranny remains.
The House Health Care Bill is the best example of government tyranny – for the government is planning to take further wealth of the people, and demand, under threat of penalties and imprisonment, that government-controlled health care be purchased.
Our elected officials rarely ask the question: “Is this bill Constitutional.” When engaged on the issue, our representatives often display a dumfounded look – as if they have never even considered the issue.
Some elected officials believe that a bill is constitutional merely because it passes Congress and is made into law. Others have a grossly distorted view of the enumerated powers of the federal government.
Our Declaration of Independence stated the natural law that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This consent was then implemented through the Constitution. In Article 1, Section 1, Clause I, the Constitution states that “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States…”
This is the first hint that the authority of Congress is expressly limited.
This clause was followed by an enumeration of specific limited powers of Congress, in Article 1, Section 8. Nowhere in this enumeration, or anywhere else in the Constitution, do the people grant Congress the power to tax to implement a universal health care program, or to interfere with the people’s health care choices, or to direct employers to provide health insurance, or to force people to purchase health insurance they may not want.
To eliminate all doubt about the scope of central government control, our Founding Fathers gave us the Tenth Amendment, which states: “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.”
In other words, if a power is not expressly granted to the federal government – the federal government DOES NOT have such power, and such power resides only in the States or the people.
So why do we care so much about the Tenth Amendment?
We don’t blindly follow it simply because it is there. It serves a critical purpose. As five-term U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater once explained: “There is a reason for its reservation of States Rights. Not only does it prevent the accumulation of power in a central government that is remote from the people and relatively immune from popular constraints; it also recognizes the principle that essentially problems are best dealt with by the people most directly concerned.”
Liberal congressmen sometimes erroneously cite the “General Welfare Clause”, the “Necessary and Proper Clause,” or the “Commerce Clause” of the Constitution as authority to assume greater power. Through these clauses government has become a cancerous growth, risking the eventual elimination of all remaining vestiges of liberty. None of these clauses grant Congress the authority to pass the health care legislation currently being discussed.
General Welfare Clause. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 gives Congress the “Power to lay and collect taxes . . . to provide for the Common Defence and general Welfare of the United States . . . .”
This clause is a general preamble to the specific enumerate powers that follow. It does not mean that Congress may tax the people to accomplish anything it thinks is a good idea. It would have been nonsensical for the Founders to grant Congress specific enumerated powers, and then add that Congress can do whatever it wants.
Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 41, explained that the “general welfare” clause was not intended to uncap the limitations on Congressional authority. President James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” and President Thomas Jefferson, shared that view.
For the first 150 years of our country’s history, it was generally accepted that the “general welfare” clause was actually a limitation on congressional authority – meaning that if one of the enumerated powers applied, then Congress could tax and spend in the exercise of that power, provided it was serving the “general welfare” of the country. That all changed in 1937, when the Supreme Court adopted the “New Deal” progressivism of the era, in U.S. v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1937).
The Court freed Congress from the enumerated powers, and held Congress could tax and spend for whatever it wanted as long as it served the “general welfare.” This perverse interpretation has led us into near economic collapse, with excessive taxation, excessive debt, and massive loss of freedom. In any event, even under the Court’s expansive interpretation, a government-controlled health care program is neither necessary nor reasonable to promote the “general welfare” of the United States.
Commerce Clause. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 gives Congress the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States…”
The Supreme Court has interpreted this Clause to justify many types of liberty-infringing regulations over activities that involve more than one state or cross state lines. But it would be a gross distortion of the original intent to use this clause to tax individuals to support a new nationwide healthcare system, or to control a person’s decision whether to buy health insurance, or to control an employer’s decision whether to offer health insurance.
Necessary and Proper Clause. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18, gives Congress the power “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers…” The only thing this Clause does is to give Congress a little flexibility in accomplishing its express duties – none of which have anything to do with health care.
A federal government takeover of the health care system plainly violates the Constitution. Our federal government is acting against the will of the people, and in derogation of the consent granted to it in 1787. Our Constitution is being ignored, and we must speak out to stop this tyranny, and pray that our words will be enough.
(Richard F. Scotti is Chairman of the Clark County Republican Party)