Here we have Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), an elected representative of the people who is sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, who doesn’t know where constitutional authority resides for congress to meddle in the health care system…yet she is perfectly willing to meddle, anyway.
From CNS News:
CNSNews.com asked Landrieu: “You mentioned that there will be no employer mandate [in the Senate health care bill] but there is an individual mandate, and several members of Congress have said that an individual mandate is unconstitutional. What part of the Constitution do you think gives Congress the authority to mandate that individuals have to purchase health insurance?”
Landrieu said: “Well, we’re very lucky as members of the Senate to have constitutional lawyers on our staff, so I’ll let them answer that.”
“But what I will say is that most certainly it is within Congress’ jurisdiction to come up with a way to have a health insurance funded with shared responsibility, is the way I like to, you know — government has a responsibility, individuals have a responsibility and business has a responsibility,” said Landrieu.
Well, if you are “most certain” that congress has the authority to enact a government health care system, you certainly should know upon what part of Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution your authority rests.
After all, Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution is where congress derives all it’s authority to do things; if it is not listed in Article 1 Section 8, congress has no authority in that area, and the Tenth Amendment affirms this:
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.
Landrieu is not alone in constitutional ignorance. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is also clueless, as is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI).
The founders who set up our government and wrote our Constitution were very clear that ours is a limited government of enumerated powers; were it not, our liberties would be in grave danger (as they are currently, since many in our government ignore the Constitution).
The Constitution says, “Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, &c., provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States”. I suppose the meaning of this clause to be, that Congress may collect taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare, in those cases wherein the Constitution empowers them to act for the general welfare. To suppose that it was meant to give them a distinct substantive power, to do any act which might tend to the general welfare, is to render all the enumerations useless, and to make their powers unlimited. – Thomas Jefferson
Our tenet ever was…that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated, and that, as it was never meant that they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money. – Thomas Jefferson
They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please…Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect. – Thomas Jefferson
Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated. – Thomas Jefferson
[Congressional jurisdiction of power] is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.” – James Madison
If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions. – James Madison
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined . . . to be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.” – James Madison
With respect to the two words ‘ general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. – James Madison
We must confine ourselves to the powers described in the Constitution, and the moment we pass it, we take an arbitrary stride towards a despotic Government. – James Jackson, First Congress
A wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. – Thomas Jefferson
The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If `Thou shalt not covet’ and `Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free. – John Adams, A Defense of the American Constitutions 1787
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. – James Madison
Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government. – James Madison
If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress. … Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America. – James Madison
[The purpose of a written constitution is] to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights. – Thomas Jefferson
Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. – Thomas Jefferson
I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. – James Madison
[T]he Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution. But this doctrine is not deducible from any circumstance peculiar to the plan of convention, but from the general theory of a limited Constitution. – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 81, 1788
The American people must not stand for this unconstitutional assault on our freedom. We the people must hold our leaders accountable for their oaths to uphold the U.S. Constitution…or we might as well stop calling ourselves a free people.