Constitutional Law And Meaning
Our Constitution and it’s meaning. This is a new series exploring both the US Constitution and our state Constitution and how these documents should be applied to our way of life. Some will object to these writings and some will argue against them. Others will learn what the real responsibility of our government and our leaders really are and how they should actually be acting on our behalf. It is up to you to decide if our leaders are doing their part and if what is presented is correct. Everything that will be presented is documented and verifiable through our nations own records. With this said, let us begin. The Constitution is essentially a rule book for government. It’s guiding principle is the concept that the state is a source of corruptive power and ultimate tyranny. The Federal government’s responsibilities were confined to a few enumerated powers which were mainly national security and the public welfare. The main objective of American government was very high limitations of government interference with the lives of the people. Article 1, section 8 defines these powers very well. In a nutshell, these powers are the collecting of certain taxes, how those taxes are levied, the borrowing of monies on credit of the Federal government, establish uniform rules of naturalization and uniform laws of Bankruptcies, to regulate commerce with foreign nations and the several states as well as Indian Tribes, to provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the united States. To “coin” money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign “coin” and fix the standard of weights and measures, to promote the sciences and useful arts, constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court, to establish post offices and post roads, declare war and raise and support armies and a navy and create the powers for said armies and the navy. The above are the limitations. Question being presented today. What is providing for the general welfare of the people? Is Snap benefits, Section 8 housing, free health care and the like a part of providing for the general welfare of the people? The answer may surprise you. Back in 1828, Noah Webster wrote the first US Dictionary. His reason? He saw that lawyers and politicians were constantly trying to change the meaning of the words used in the Federal Government’s Constitution. His intention was to preserve the original meanings of the words used in the Constitution. That dictionary is now available online. We looked up the word welfare. Here is the meaning as it existed in 1828. Welfare: noun. 1. Exemption from misfortune, sickness, calamity or evil; the enjoyment of health and the common blessings of life; prosperity; happiness; applied to persons. 2. Exemption from the unusual evil or calamity; the enjoyment of peace and prosperity, or the ordinary blessings of society and civil government; applied to states. What the definition does not state is that government is responsible for proving the people with food, clothing, health care, money, housing or the like. Providing for the welfare of the people is actually providing for the protection of the people to enjoy the freedoms of their own prosperity. It was meant as a limiting power and not an ever expanding power. So let’s go to the top authority here. James Madison who spoke as President on the powers given to Congress through the US Constitution regarding Proving for the common defense and general welfare. Madison speaking on the Bonus Bill stated the following: The power to regulate commerce
Among the several States can not include a power to construct roads and canals, and to improve the navigation of water courses in order to facilitate, promote, and secure such a commerce without latitude of construction departing from the ordinary import of the terms….. To refer the power in question to the clause “to provide for the common defense and general welfare” would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation, as rendering the special and careful enumeration of powers which follow the clause nugatory and improper. Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them. Again, James Madison in 1794 wrote disapprovingly of a $15,000.00 appropriation for French refugees: “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” 1796 William Giles of Virginia condemned a relief measure for fire victims and insisted that it was not the purpose nor the right of Congress to “attend to what generosity and humanity require, but to what the Constitution and their duty require.” 1827, Davy Crockett, House of Representatives, Tennessee: “We must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not attempt to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon the floor knows it. We have the right as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money. 1854; President Franklin Pierce; “I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity.” President Grover Cleveland vetoed hundreds of spending bills during his two terms in office. He famously wrote, “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution.” 1828; William Drayton, Senator, South Carolina reminded his peers; “If Congress can determine what constitutes the general welfare and can appropriate money for it’s advancement, where is the limitation to carry into execution whatever can be effected by money?’ Where we are today is up to you to decide if we are on the right course. History is clear on the real limitations on our representatives. But are they following those limitations?
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