- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2010


Today’s 223rd anniversary of the promulgation of the U.S. Constitution occurs as Americans increasingly insist the federal government honor constitutional limits on federal power. The backlash against overweening government is boiling over in the Tea Party movement, town-hall meetings, demonstrations on the National Mall and in polling data.

The terms of the Constitution originally were clear. Section 8 of Article I enumerates the exact powers the federal government, through Congress, can exercise - and, by doing so, excludes all other powers. As James Madison, the chief conceptualizer of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist 39, “the proposed government cannot be deemed a national one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several states a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects.” Madison wrote this before adoption of the 10th Amendment, which restates, “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution … are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” This restriction of powers was intended to be the single greatest bulwark of American liberty.

President Obama and the Democratic Congress have blown through constitutional restraints in myriad ways. In seizing banks and car companies, taking equity ownership in formerly private enterprises, arbitrarily trampling the obligation of contracts by reassigning stock and bond holdings from the original owners to corrupt union bosses, and especially in mandating that private citizens purchase particular products against their will, these leftists violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution.

Hence we see Fortney H. Stark, a Democratic California congressman for 38 years, insist at a July 24 town-hall meeting that, “The federal government, yes, can do most anything in this country.” He claimed, “There are very few constitutional limits that would prevent the federal government from rules that could affect your private life.” This tirade was to counter a woman who dared say the “Constitution specifically enumerates certain powers to the fed, and leaves all other authority to the states or to the people.” On Oct. 23, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a California Democrat, expressed similar incredulity at the notion that the Constitution could possibly limit Congress‘ power to mandate the purchase of health insurance. “Are you serious?” she asked repeatedly.

Yes, Madame Speaker, the American people are serious about protecting their liberty against dangerously unlimited federal power. This Constitution Day is a fitting time for Americans to rededicate themselves to limiting such unilateral assumptions of power so freedom may survive.

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