Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The federal government ONLY POSSESSES those powers delegated to it
It is common for many people, especially politicians and judges, to think of the Constitution in fragmented terms, isolating this part and that part to suit the particular needs of any given situation however, the entire Constitution is, when properly construed, consistent throughout. If we take the Bill of Rights, for instance, those Amendments do not add or subtract anything from the Original Constitution, the fact is that they were already Rights prior to the writing and ratification of the Constitution. The federal government ONLY POSSESSES those powers delegated to it, this fact is evident in Article 1, Section 1 when it declares those powers to be VESTED in Congress. The word VESTED is defined as FIXED, meaning the powers of Congress are cannot be based on any contingency authority except those which are expressly delegated, this, by definition, would exclude the idea that there can be a broad interpretation of implied powers available to Congress.
The structure of the entire Constitution is articulated concisely within the 10th Amendment, it defines the foundation of limited government, it reinforces the doctrine of the federal system that the Constitutional Compact, agreed to and ratified as a Contract between the States, created. It is not merely that the 10th Amendment acts as a barrier against federal intrusions on the liberties of the individual and the authority of the States, the 10th Amendment expounds the entire Constitutional Compact of federalism. Without doubt, the Congress and Supreme Court have used an extremely broad interpretation through the doctrine of implied powers, yet there is no other principle that serves as the foundation of the entire purpose and plan of the original Constitution and it is fully expressed in the 10th Amendment. That principle is that the federal government only possesses those powers that are specifically delegated to it by the Constitution and no others. When the Framers wrote the 10th Amendment, all they were doing was reiterating the entire principle upon which the government of the United States rests.
The Constitutional Compact, created by the States, deputized the federal government and delegated to it certain limited and enumerated powers. Many of the Framers believed that since those powers were indeed limited and were enumerated within the Constitution that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary and could, in fact, cause several issues in the future due to the specificity of the Bill of Rights. They were concerned that the Bill of Rights would be interpreted as the only Rights or that they would be used to limit the Rights of the People and the States through a broader interpretation that there were no other negatives issued against federal powers except those first 10 Amendments. Of course, the 9th Amendment, the sister to the 10th, gave an extremely broader view of the Rights reserved to the People, explaining that there were Rights that were not enumerated within the Constitution, but were nonetheless, just as as exacting as though they were enumerated.
Therefore, since it is completely impossible to list all the Rights of the Citizens of these States united in a Compact of Union, there exist Rights that the government cannot define or legislate to contravene. The fact that there is an absence of those Rights enumerated does not, in any sense or construction, deny the fact that those Rights do indeed exist and are just as inalienable and therefore, un-restrainable as those that are enumerated within the Bill of Rights. Indeed, James Madison stated: ''It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution.''
The solution to this potential problem is the 9th Amendment to the Constitution: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Of course, the 9th Amendment has been essentially ignored by the Courts, and, I might add by those who, for whatever reason, would deny all manner of Rights to other Americans. This denial of Rights has occurred on both the right and the left of the political spectrum. It is therefore, beyond doubt that the Framers of the Constitution believed and asserted that there are additional fundamental rights, that are protected from governmental infringement, which exist along with those fundamental rights specifically mentioned in the first eight Amendments to the Constitution.
Since the Constitution only conferred those limited powers that are enumerated in the Constitution itself, it was assumed that the federal government could not reach beyond that which was granted to it. The Framers of the Constitution, using the normal rules of statutory construction, insisted that by forbidding the federal government within certain areas, would allow it to act in areas that were not specifically forbidden by the Constitution. The remedy to such a possibility was the 10th Amendment, which is a bulwark against the government using implied powers to deny or restrain the limitation of any of the Bill of Rights. Thus, as a statutory construction or interpretation, this rule, the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, prevents the inference that the Bill of Rights might, in an instance of misconstrued interpretation, imply that the federal government has powers other than those enumerated, and as such, could be used by the government to limit or infringe upon the Rights declared within the Bill of Rights.
Vanhorne's Lessee v. Dorrance, 2 Dallas 304 at 308 (U.S. Cir. Ct. Pa.1795)
"What is the Constitution? It is a form of government delineated by the mighty hand of the People in which certain first principles of fundamental law are established. The Constitution is certain and fixed: it contains the permanent will of the People, and is the Supreme Law of the Land; it is Paramount to the will of the legislature, and can be revoked only by the Authority that made it. The life-giving principle and the death-doing stroke must proceed from the same hand. What are legislatures? Creatures of the Constitution; they owe their existence to the Constitution; they derive their powers from the Constitution. It is their commission ; and, therefore, all their acts must be conformable to it, or else they will be Void. The Constitution is the Will of the People themselves in their original, Sovereign, and unlimited capacity. Law is the work of the legislature in their subordinate and derivative capacity. The one is the work of the creator, and the other of the creature. The Constitution fixes the limits to the exercise of the legislative authority, and prescribes the orbit within which it must move. In short, gentlemen, the Constitution is the sun of the political system, around which all legislative, executive, and judicial bodies must revolve. Whatever may be the case with other countries, yet in this there can be no doubt that every act of the legislature repugnant to the Constitution if ABSOLUTELY VOID."