Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What Our Constitution Permits

by Walter E. Williams - January 12th, 2011 -

President James Madison on March 3, 1817 vetoed a public works bill saying: "Having considered the bill this day presented to me entitled 'An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,' and which sets apart and pledges funds 'for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several States, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,' I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States and to return it with that objection to the House of Representatives, in which it originated."

Madison, who is sometimes referred to as the father of our Constitution, added to his veto statement, "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."

Here's my question to any member of the House who might vote for funds for "constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses": Was Madison just plain constitutionally ignorant or has the Constitution been amended to permit such spending?

The reality is that even some of the most conservative Americans are not really willing to live within the constraints of the Constitution as it was written. The new attempt by conservatives to require bills in Congress being considered for passage to state their Constitutional basis is going to lead to some really intriguing discussions of what our Constitution really means... and what Americans really understand to be the social contract that binds our nation. I hope that will be positive for our nation. I cannot assure it will be.

The conclusion of the article is a frightening portent of what we may find.
John Adams warned, "A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever." I am all too afraid that's where our nation stands today and the blame lies with the American people.

I am afraid too. Afraid that Mr. Williams is closer to the truth than most Americans, even Conservatives and Libertarians would like to believe about what the 21st Century will bring. Individual liberty is dying.


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