Odd Citizen

Odd Citizen
An Odd Citizen’s Search For Vanishing Freedoms

A Potato, a Baseball and the U.S. Constitution

June 16th, 2011

If someone pointed to a baseball and told me it was a potato it wouldn’t tempt me to cook it for dinner. I don’t think it would tempt you either, no matter how authoritative the source of the statement. There is a fundamental and obvious difference between a baseball and a potato. But when it comes to laws then it boils down to what the definition of “is” is.

The U.S. Constitution was written by some very wise and well educated men who also expressed their thoughts succinctly and clearly. So it baffles most of us who read and understand the English language how the Constitution’s plain meanings have been mangled and bent to justify all manner of Federal Government powers and expansions. So I was particularly interested to encounter online a copy of the Constitution in the U.S. Senate website, with the original language accompanied by an interpretation. I guess this is what our Senators refer to when they need reference to the Constitution.

Now I’m not a lawyer by any stretch of imagination, and I do concede that much of the damage to our republic has been done by those worthies of the Supreme Court. So I’ll just mention a few things I found in Section 8, where the “limited and enumerated” powers of the Federal Government are specified, along with their interpretation for use by the Senators.

The first of these is the notorious Commerce Clause, which gives congress the power to regulate “interstate commerce.”

This clause has been used as a huge loophole to justify federal power to regulate and do almost everything, most recently by Democrats to justify the constitutionality of Obamacare and EPA regulation of carbon dioxide. The winds blowing across state lines are apparently “interstate commerce,” thus making the EPA’s regulation of airborne pollution Constitutional. So wind is “commerce”, flowing rivers are “commerce”, trucking and communication are “commerce”.

Look at the Constitutional statement on the left and then at the interpretation on the right, where it states that “the ‘Commerce Clause’ is one of the most far-reaching grants of power to congress.”
Can that conclusion be reached by the plain meaning of the Constitution in which “interstate commerce” was plainly intended to mean commercial transactions over state lines? A power needed to keep one state from taxing and regulating commercial transactions involving other states? YAH, YAH, I know that the Supreme Court was defenestrated during the F.D.R administration and hasn’t ever regained its courage to do its duty.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all government programs now justified by the Commerce Clause were re-examined, and those that did not involve actual commerce, i.e., commercial transactions, were shut down forthwith?

OK, here’s another little gem. The Postal Clause shown below:

Where in the original language does it say that “Congress may also punish those who use the mails for unlawful purposes.”? Was that a pet notion of the guy who wrote this interpretation for our dear senators?

And where does it say that the Post Office must be a government monopoly?

And now to that clause beloved by politicians and bureaucrats, and tyrants, the “elastic clause”. Read the plain language on the left, then the explanation on the right.

The plain language specifies that the congress can “make laws necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution …“. The bold parts refer to those powers already defined in Section 8 and elsewhere in the Constitution. It doesn’t say that this is an ‘elastic clause’ that enlarges legislative power to let Congress do whatever they damn well please, but that’s the impression one gets from the description by the dear senators’ constitutional interpreter.

Of course, whole books are written on how the original meaning of the Constitution has been contorted and ignored to the detriment of the country. There are undoubtedly many learned experts out there who will tell me I’m uninformed and simple minded. But a potato isn’t a baseball, nor a baseball a potato no matter what the experts claim.

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