Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where Is Our Government Getting Their Powers Lately?

I remember learning about American History in a class by that name in public school, followed the next year by a class called American Government. The teachers didn't consider me at the top of the class (fairly enough), but I did learn a few things. One clear theme had to do with our Constitution and the Founders' intent for the document. They wished to keep the citizens as free as possible, leaving with them as many rights as possible. They also wanted to severely limit the powers of the Federal Government, leaving anything not specifically authorized for the feds to belong to the states or the citizens.

Watching all three branches of our Federal Government these days, one might wonder how those folks did in their schools' history and civics classes. More and more the central government is taking control of rights that used to belong to citizens and states. Hence we have many states today bringing suits against the Federal Government over health care requirements or immigration control. We could blame both the Legislative and Executive branches in those cases. And the courts have been leaning toward government and away in many cases, such as the Kelo case, where homeowners had to give up their property so a local business could build on their lots.

The U.S. Constitution's 9th Amendment says:

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

And the 10th says:

"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."

One can't really call that language "legalize" because its meaning is clear. The Federalist Papers are considered good insight into the Constitution's meaning and the Founders' intentions. Federalist 45 says, in part:

"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; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. 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, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

To the point of this particular blog overall is to protect the rights our Founders intended us to have in the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment. Reading the above quotes, does it seem Constitutional for the Supreme Court of the United States to tell a city's public school that it can't have prayer at a graduation ceremony? Look at the tag Discrimination Examples or Revisionism here to see examples, and then apply the three quotes above to see if they pass Constitutional muster.

Much of the current Tea Party phenomenon is fueled by frustration over seeing the Federal Government seemingly willing to ignore Constitutional limitations and the clear will of the people. We'll see what the election shows this fall. One might suspect that Tea Parties won't go away no matter what the outcome, because there are still many politicians of both major parties who not in good standing with the people they were elected to serve.

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