Congress Shall Have the Power...

Franklin Roosevelt was an impressive president. He brought us through the Depression and World War II. He did so, in part, by stuffing the Supreme Court. Limitations on the powers of the federal government vanished. His pet court allowed him to do whatever he pleased. The precedents left behind have been available to every president and Congress since.

Some of this was in the interests of solving the large problems faced during his administration. We cannot go back to the original Constitution, restoring a government suited for sparsely populated agricultural states. We thus must either abandon rule of law, or rewrite the Constitution to allow the best of the powers already usurped. Thus, I am including many powers, not because all need be granted, but because we should at least consider if these powers ought to be granted. Again, most of these powers are already effectively usurped. They are being exercised by the government improperly, and denying most of them would cause considerable upheaval.

For example, we are not going to get rid of the FBI, BATF and Secret Service purely on the basis that the federal government does not have police powers. The courts have been looking the other way, pretending that the federal government has police authority, for far too long. There are too many precedents ignoring the text of the Constitution, or at least the intent of the authors, and there are too many prudential concerns validating a modern need for police organizations of national scope. No, we must expressly grant the federal government police powers, as only if police powers are granted can limitations be placed on such powers.

Police powers are just one obvious example. I am including a great number of powers here. In my opinion, these are all usurped powers, powers claimed by the federal government improperly. I could quite agree that some of these powers might be excluded rather than specifically granted, and that additional limitations might be placed.

Congress shall have the power to establish police forces, to enforce the laws and protect the people on federally owned land, to protect federal employees while performing their duties, to enforce federal law, to protect the privileges, immunities and rights of the People when not adequately protected by the states, and to coordinate and distribute information between state and local police organizations.

Congress shall create no class of individuals, such as federal officers or federal employees, that are protected over and above other citizens of the United States. Congress shall write no law protecting federal property from destruction, theft or copy, to a degree above and beyond normal protections established for private property. Congress shall write no criminal law that usurps jurisdiction of criminal acts from state governments based on the criminal act occurring on federal property, on federal military bases, or upon national parks, or upon other federal areas located within the borders of a state. (Congress shall retain full and exclusive legislative authority over the District of Columbia, and such other US territories and possessions over which no state or local legislative body has jurisdiction.)

Congress has the power to write laws applying on military bases, national parks, or other federal properties unique to the character and function of such properties, but such laws shall not be construed to over ride or usurp state jurisdiction over basic criminal laws protecting rights, life and property.

Congress shall have the power to write laws protecting the privileges, immunities and rights of US Citizens, but federal enforcement of said laws shall be deferred without court finding that the states have failed in their protection of the rights, privileges and immunities of the People.

The intent is that if the states are doing their jobs, the federals should leave be. If the states fail to protect the rights of the People, the federals should have full authority to step in.

Congress shall have the power to regulate interstate communications, commerce and transportation for purposes of increasing safety, efficiency and convenience. Congress may allocate funds to support communications and transportation infrastructure, but shall not create a government monopoly in these areas, nor use tax subsidies to compete with private service providers.

South Carolina once nearly succeeded from the Union when the industrial north kept allocating federal funds to dredging harbors and canals. Since that time, it has been pretty well accepted that Congress can subsidize any form of infrastructure. Let's make it explicit.

Congress shall have the power to require safe storage and transport of hazardous materials, but shall otherwise write no law taxing, registering nor prohibiting the transport of specific classes of property across state borders. Laws prohibiting classes of objects or specific materials from private possession are reserved to the states.

Take that, you nasty interstate commerce clause! We might allow out right bans of highly toxic or unstable materials, but the interstate commerce clause has been so thoroughly over used by the federal government, that I am almost inclined to remove it entirely.

Congress shall have the power to subsidize farm products, to guarantee markets for crops vital to the national well being, to assure production of said crops is sufficient to assure independence from imported goods.

If we are going to give the industrial states their pork, we have to legitimize agricultural pork as well, or do we?

It is the Right of the People to communicate privately. Congress shall write no law restricting privacy in communications, establishing key escrow, limiting key length, or similarly defeating communications privacy.

Congress shall have the power to prohibit classes of objects from entering the US through international trade, for controlling international contraband, for controlling smuggling, and restricting ownership of international contraband.

The above is already implied by the authority to regulate international commerce, and may not be really necessary.

Congress shall have the power to restrict release of hazardous materials and pollutants into the environment, and to acquire lands for preservation in the state of nature, and for recreation.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general welfare of the United States; but all Duties, and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; and no expenditure may be allocated without specifying the Power of Congress or of the Government which justifies the expenditure.

Gray indicates a proposed deletion. The Courts have ruled that the Congress may spend money for any purpose it wishes, so long as that purpose has something to do with the common Defense or the general welfare. This interpretation allows the Congress to invent new functions for the federal government, so long as the function is focused on the spending of money. Like the Ninth Amendment's potential expansion of rights, the gray clause above is used as basis for indefinite expansion of federal government.

Congress shall make no distribution of funds to the states dependent on conditions that the state shall defer to federal policy demands.

The above blocks another method Congress uses to acquire control in areas never intended by the Constitution. Congress does expand its authority through bribe and blackmail.

Let's Hold a Constitutional Convention

Rights - Powers - War - Jury