Misusing The Commerce Clause
August 26, 2010 by Bob Livingston
When questioned about the authority of the onerous, overreaching laws they’ve passed — laws like Obamacare, Wall Street reform and bank bailouts — members of Congress have cited the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
That clause, found in Article 1, Section 8, reads:
The Congress shall have Power… To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes…
From our country’s founding into the 1930s, courts ruled that the Commerce Clause limited the ability of the Federal government to hinder the freedom of individuals, according to Andrew P. Napolitano, in his book, The Constitution in Exile. But that changed in 1937 as Congress continued to push New Deal legislation that increased the power of government and “(The U.S. Supreme Court) simply abrogated its role and stopped enforcing the Constitution’s limits on federal power.”
Since 1937, Congress and the courts have continually expanded government and that has resulted in less freedom for Americans. Now Congress believes everything it passes can affect commerce and therefore falls under its authority under the Commerce Clause.
But James Madison, the father of the Constitution and the fourth President, would not agree. He wrote:
“It is very certain that [the commerce clause] grew out of the abuse of the power by the importing States in taxing the non-importing, and was intended as a negative and preventive provision against injustice among the States themselves, rather than as a power to be used for the positive purposes of the General Government.”
As November — and another election day — approaches, Americans need to thoroughly examine their current Representative in the House and their Senator and determine whether he or she has voted in a way that expands governmental overreach, or in a way that upholds the Constitutional principles of the Founding Fathers.
If that Representative is found worthy, vote him or her back into office. If not, find an alternative. If your Senator passes the test and is on the ballot in November — a third of them are up for re-election — then re-elect him or her. But if he or she has failed the test, examine the alternative there.
Hopefully the alternative candidate will understand that Americans are tired of a Congress that grows government into an ever larger freedom-crushing leviathan and apparently doesn’t understand that the Constitution is there to limit government to its 18 enumerated powers. Anything beyond that is not Constitutional and should be abolished.