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Most Constitutionalists seem to think that the Constitution limits the power of government in some way. It doesn’t. The purpose of the Constitution has always been to expand the power of the National government, and it has done so since its ratification. The usual tactic, especially in an unchallenged environment, is to point to Article I, Section 8 (what they call “enumerated powers”) as proof that these 17 or 18 powers constitute a comprehensive list of all things that the government is empowered to do. But by its very location, Article I, Section 8 which begins, “The Congress shall have the Power To…” can only apply to the CONGRESS.
Constitutionalists tend to be equally as committed to the somewhat arbitrary concept that there need to be separate branches of government, and the thoroughly inconsistent doctrine called the “separation of powers.” There seems to be a little disagreement, depending on whether you’re dealing with Hamiltonians or Madisonians as to whether the three branches should be “co-equal.” The Madisonians tend to point to the size and detail of Article I as proof that Congress should be the most powerful. The President is given fewer powers by comparison, but few believe that Congress should be able to tell a President what to do in war once one has been declared. Likewise, Article III is curiously absent of specifics. It does not describe how courts are to be set up, how many justices are to sit on them, or even how juries are to operate. Very much that is not reserved to Congress is left to inference. Some have suggested this is proof the courts are supposed to be the weakest branch. But they certainly would not want the courts to be weaker than Congress when deciding whether laws are unconstitutional.
What remains are the powers that are not enumerated. One of the parts of the Constitution most abused by Leftists is the “necessary and proper” clause. They will say that Congress can pass crazy laws like Obamacare because they are “necessary and proper.” Constitutionalists will usually counter by declaring that the Leftists did not read further into the passage, namely: “Congress shall have the power…To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers…” But Constitutionalists are just as guilty of failing to read the full context as the Leftists. The remainder of the sentence reads: “…and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” This makes clear there are powers granted by the Constitution that are NOT in Article I, Section 8. All one has to do is comb the Constitution in a candid and thorough manner to find such powers.
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Focusing on the last relevant term, “Officer thereof,” we have to recognize that this section does not refer to members of Congress. “Officer” refers to any elected or appointed members of the Executive and Judicial branches, including members of the Supreme Court, the President, and his Cabinet, which would also cover the “Departments.” Taken together, the “Government of the United States” Congress has power to do pretty much anything that is “necessary and proper” to carry out all powers granted to the Executive and Judicial branches as well as Congress. Needless to say, there are many—and most are not enumerated. This falls to the first of the relevant terms, “VESTED.” Sadly, I never hear Constitutionalists talking about the “VESTED” powers.
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