It’s Our Constitution — Not Kavanaugh

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It's Our Constitution — Not Kavanaugh

U.S.A.-( One of the best statements of how the Framers saw the role of the federal government is found in Federalist Paper 45, written by James Madison, who is known as the “Father of the Constitution”: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. … The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.” Today's reality is the polar opposite of that vision. The powers of the federal government are numerous and indefinite, and those of state governments are few and defined.

If confirmed, Brett Kavanaugh will bring to the U.S. Supreme Court a vision closer to that of the Framers than the vision of those who believe that the Constitution is a “living document.” Those Americans rallying against Kavanaugh's confirmation are really against the U.S. Constitution rather than the man — Judge Kavanaugh — whom I believe would take seriously his oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Was Madison misinformed or just plain ignorant about the powers delegated to Congress? Before we answer, let's examine statements of other possibly “misinformed” Americans. In 1796, on the floor of the House of Representatives, William Giles of Virginia condemned a relief measure for fire victims, saying the purpose and the right of Congress is to attend to not what generosity and humanity require but instead what their duty requires. In 1854, President Franklin Pierce vetoed a bill intended to help the mentally ill, writing to the Senate, “I can not find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Government the great almoner of public charity.” He added that to approve such spending would “be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive of the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.” President Grover Cleveland out-vetoed his predecessors by vetoing 584 acts of Congress, including many congressional spending bills, during his two terms as president in the late 1800s. His often-given veto message was, “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution.” By the way, President Cleveland was a Democrat.

Were the Founding Fathers, previous congressmen and previous presidents who could not find constitutional authority for today's massive federal government intervention just plain stupid, ignorant, callous and uncaring? Article 1 of the Constitution defines the role of Congress. Its Section 8 lists powers delegated to Congress. I examined our Constitution, looking to see whether an Article 5 amendment had been enacted authorizing Congress to spend money for business bailouts, prescription drugs, education, Social Security and thousands of other spending measures in today's federal budget. I found no such amendment. Contrary to what our Constitution permits, Congress taxes and spends for anything upon which it can muster a majority vote.

But I found a constitutional loophole that many congressmen use as a blank check, as well as justification to control most aspects of our lives — namely, the general welfare clause. The Constitution's preamble contains the phrase “promote the general Welfare,” and Article 1, Section 8 contains the phrase “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” What did the Framers mean by “general Welfare”? In 1817, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated.” Madison wrote: “With respect to the words ‘general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

Case closed: It's our Constitution that's the problem for leftist interventionists — not Brett Kavanaugh.

About Walter E.WilliamsWalter E.Williams

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. Williams is also the author of several books. Among these are The State Against Blacks, later made into a television documentary, America: A Minority Viewpoint, All It Takes Is Guts, South Africa's War Against Capitalism, More Liberty Means Less Government, Liberty Versus The Tyranny of Socialism, and recently his autobiography, Up From The Projects.

  • 18 thoughts on “It’s Our Constitution — Not Kavanaugh

    1. Or. Take it as a living document, not from people who were originally here, aka American Indians. So it is a documented alien, being subjected to the torture of being gutted, cut to pieces and outright shredded. Is it not what the commie/socialist/demonkkkrats want us to do but protect aliens? Well.. to arms, to arms, to restate a several hundred year old quote…

      Can we not get the commies to move to their utopia of Venezuela and Hawaii? Let them have the entire state of Hawaii, just leave us the fuck alone. That gorilla that keeps ignoring the piece of crap that keeps poking him with a stick til he goes off suddenly giving him a wooden enema? Well, the commies have just about reached the limit to the number of poles til the pain hits them….. everybody on the left keeps poking, the right keeps taking it…. well just about splinter time.

    2. And yet, though I see this discussed often enough – THE CONSTITUTION DOES RESTRAIN STATE POWERS AS WELL!

      10th AMENDMENT:
      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.

      State governments can no more disarm citizens than they can repeal free speech or ban Islam!
      And yet . . . it is being done.

      Supreme Court???
      My Second Amendment rights have been EFFECTIVELY REPEALED for over four years now and counting!

    3. I ask why it is that elected politicians and officials submit to an oath of office in which they swear to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and yet their conduct is in direct opposition to their oath?

      The violation of said oath, especially where it alters any enumerated right of the people, is criminal at the very least.

      Thomas Jefferson said that any alteration of a right of the people can not be left to politicians alone, but must include the participation of the whole of the people. To leave such in the hands of the politicians alone yields to them the authority and power to alter or even eliminate any right of the people.

      One only need look at the issues of the 1st and 2nd Amendments and the acts of politicians today to realize how right Jefferson was.

    4. Dr. Williams
      Thank you, once again, for a clearly defined and understandable, article. You, sir, are a valuable asset to the citizens of the US. Your clear, understandable advice/information should be a must read primer for all educational enities and citizenship applicants. Not to do so furthers the downward spiral towards ignorance and apathy that, unfortunately, has become and seems to be the norm.

    5. It is a “living” document. But recall the famous statement by a living former President: “It depends what the meaning of is is.” Living does not mean changeable at the will of some. It means living in the same sense as “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” There is no exception included for frigidity, impotence, or any other reason.

      Dr. Williams, I believe the “great empowerment” emanates more from the Commerce Clause than the General Welfare provision. It’s still wrong.

      1. Pete, What is a living document? What is the legal import of being a living document as opposed to a dead document? If I have a living document is in my care and custody when it dies, then am I in trouble with the county prosecutor?
        Living document is propaganda made up by people that want to diminish your Right to say No to government. If you buy into the propaganda, soon you will have no ability to say No.

        1. I agree with you, Wild Bill, and I would add for the benefit of ‘Pete’ that the Constitution carries no prohibition against adultery. Regardless of how you feel about Biblical imperatives, they are not a matter of civil or criminal law, and that was a pathetic analogy.

            1. I usually avoid saying things like this, but Bill and Donald missed my meaning completely. “Living” is a way, as I intend it, to say the Constitution has the same meaning it had when it was written. Sorry if that’s too complex for your understanding.

            2. @Pete, No, we missed nothing. We disagreed with the part about “living document” and there was no need to comment about the part that we agreed with.
              If that is what you mean by “living” then you need to define your terms in advance because that is not what the leftists mean, Pete.

        2. Pete, if the constitution is to be considered a “living” document, that is to say it is constantly up for reinterpretation, which seems extremely dangerous. Would you agree? I prefer, as did Antonin Scalia, to be an originalist, and interpret the constitution as the authors intended, since they were extremely meticulous and thorough in the process of formulating a document that they knew would stand the test of time. After all, it wasn’t written overnight!

    6. I think that had the U.S. not become great so quickly; and not so rich so quickly and not so powerful so easily; the Constitution would be more closely held to. Too much money for politicians to make and too much power because of the money, and not enough statesmen; not to mention a pliable populace more concerned with their personal welfare for the now; than all the tomorrows.
      But still the best country I’ve ever lived in.

      1. @Alvin S, You have your finger on the pulse! We the People need to have more control over our employees in the Congress, federal Judiciary, federal bureaucracy, and Executive branch. And there needs to be a penalty for trying to legislatively, judicially, and bureaucratically diminish Constitutional Civil Rights. But first, we have to do our part to drain the Congressional swamp, this November.

    7. Mr Williams I appreciate your writings and always get something to consider from them. Our current Congress and their predesesors would do well to study your words and thoughts. Thank you for being a great American!

        1. Consider the fact that every one of our current members of Congress, handsomely paid employees I might add, are elected by their constituents on platforms promising much pork to their homelands, and it is no wonder that our federal government and the constitution itself has evolved into the “general Welfare” monstrosity that we are dealing with today!

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