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Jewish World Review
April 17, 2009
/ 23 Nisan 5769
Rediscovering the 10th Amendment Too Little, Too Late
The New Deal, launched almost 80 years ago, represented a giant leap
toward collectivism. But only in the last few weeks, as a result of
President Barack Obama's New Deal Reloaded, have some 20 states
rediscovered the Constitution and the 10th Amendment.
Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution sets forth the
limited duties and obligations of the federal
government. The Founding Fathers designed a federal government that
focuses primarily on national security, the rules of naturalization and
a handful of other matters. And the Ninth and 10th amendments to the
Constitution leave all other rights and powers to the people and to the
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, standing with members of his state Legislature,
said: "The 10th Amendment was enacted by folks who remembered what it
was like to have a very oppressive government to be under the thumb
of tyrants in an all-powerful government. Unfortunately, the protections
it guarantees have melted away over the course of the years."
During the early days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal,
the Supreme Court actually ruled that the Constitution meant what it
said and said what it meant. The court, for example, unanimously struck
down the National Industrial Recovery Act as the result of a lawsuit by
a chicken slaughterhouse, which resented federal control of its business
because it operated exclusively within New York state. So the Supreme
Court pointed to Article I, Section 8, which reads, "Congress shall have
Power . (t)o regulate Commerce . among the several States," and said the
Constitution limited Congress to legislation involving interstate
commerce, not intrastate commerce. The court was also concerned about
the delegated, enumerated balance of power among the three branches of
government legislative, executive and judicial especially the
president's use of legislative power, because FDR issued the executive
order authorizing the code imposed on intrastate commerce. Chief Justice
Charles Evans Hughes wrote: "The President, in approving a code, may
impose his own conditions, adding to or taking from what is proposed. .
(T)he discretion of the President in approving or prescribing codes, and
thus enacting laws for the government of trade and industry throughout
the country, is virtually unfettered."
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Gov. Perry likened the intrusion of the federal government to boiling a
frog: Heat the water slowly and gradually so the frog doesn't react
until it's too late and it perishes. Thus, Perry opposes
constitutional-law-professor-turned-President Obama's massive federal
intrusion into the states via the "bailout" plans.
But the resistance represents too little, too late.
In describing the constant blatant assault on the Constitution, one
hardly knows where to start. The federal government runs Social
Security, a 50-state Ponzi scheme that makes Bernie Madoff look like an
underachiever. What about Medicaid? It is a federal/state program of
health care for the poor. What about the Department of Education? It
unconstitutionally involves the federal government in state-run
education and comes with rules and mandates attached to the money.
Gov. Perry, mind you, intends to accept some
federal bailout money because, as he puts it, Texans sent Washington the
money in the first place. He refuses, however, to accept federal money,
such as unemployment compensation dollars, because of the strings
attached. But the very unconstitutionality of the federal government
engaging in activities beyond those specified under Article I, Section
8, and sticking its nose conditions or no into the lives of the
states doesn't seem to bother him. In other words, it's OK for the
federal government to play nanny and violate the Constitution
provided it does so without strings.
Ever since the ratification of the Constitution, federal lawmakers have
attempted to circumvent it. President Franklin Pierce vetoed an 1854
bill to help the mentally ill, saying, "I cannot find any authority in
the Constitution for public charity" and that such spending "would be
contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and subversive
to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded."
And President Grover Cleveland, when vetoing an 1887 appropriation to
help drought-stricken counties in Texas, said: "I feel obliged to
withhold my approval of the plan to indulge in benevolent and charitable
sentiment through the appropriation of public funds. . I find no warrant
for such an appropriation in the Constitution."
Today large numbers of Americans, to the extent that they even know
about Article I, Section 8, couldn't care less about it.
FDR personified this view at the swearing-in ceremony for his second
term. He later said that when it came to the words "support the
Constitution of the United States," he thought, "Yes, but it's the
Constitution as I understand it, flexible enough
to meet any new problem of democracy not the kind of Constitution
your court has raised up as a barrier to progress and democracy."
What 10th Amendment?
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