Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day. -Thomas Jefferson
The primary focus of this blog has been to shine the spotlight on the current Constitutional crisis America is facing. By ‘Constitutional Crisis’, I mean the the current actions of the government to replace the American system which guarantees and protects liberty, with a system that is characterized as tyranny:
Arbitrary or despotic government; the severe and autocratic exercise of sovereign power, either vested constitutionally in one ruler, or usurped by him by breaking down the division and distribution of governmental powers. [emphasis added]
Whether the ultimate goal is communism, radical Islamic rule, sharia law, or fascism, tyranny is both the means and the end.
Tyranny is the main subject of Mark Levin’s book Liberty and Tyranny. Levin further discusses his ideas in this interview with Rush Limbaugh:
As noted in the first post on this subject, tyranny begins with an attack on the fundamental values of individual liberty and the limited, servant role of government.
Tyranny is precisely what our founders experienced with the British Crown, what they rebelled against, and what they sought to protect against in the Constitution. And this is what we are faced with today.
This article examines how tyranny has found its way into and is presently attacking every Article of the U.S. Constitution, and focuses specifically on Article I.
Overview: The Articles of the Constitution
The Preamble to the Constitution:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Based on this agreement between the people, we established a Constitution to guide a government that would achieve these goals. The Constitution has six sections:
- Article I. The Legislative Branch
- Article II. The Presidency
- Article III. The Judiciary
- Article IV. The States
- Article V. The Amendment process
- Article VI. The Legal Status of the Constitution
The broad tyranny that runs throughout the attack on the Articles of the Constitution is most visible in the expansion of government, or the concept of federalism:
A principle of government that defines the relationship between the central government at the national level and its constituent units at the regional, state, or local levels. Under this principle of government, power and authority is allocated between the national and local governmental units, such that each unit is delegated a sphere of power and authority only it can exercise, while other powers must be shared.
The federal government was given limited authority–enumerated powers. The 10th Amendment protects the residual powers of the state and the people. Congress has regularly exceeded its enumerated powers for decades, and more blatantly in this first decade of the 21st century.
This site identifies three mechanisms through which Congress has been able to achieve a vast expansion of federal power under Article I, Section 8, or the Commerce Clause:
The Interstate Commerce Clause–Article I, Section 8, authorizes Congress to “regulate commerce among the several states…and Indian nations”, and provides the basis for the greatest expansion of federal power. The crucial issue is the broad versus narrow interpretation of ‘commerce’, and in 1824 the Supreme Court took a very broad view of commerce, ruling that the federal government could regulate commerce that occurred among several states. Congress immediately moved to regulate railways, and then food, drugs, and other items simply by refusing entry of items into one state that didn’t meet federal standards.
When more conservative judges were appointed to the bench in 1918, the Supreme Court reversed this broad interpretation and began to strike down laws, such as the National Child Labor Law on the grounds that it exceeded the powers of the commerce clause. The court began to strike down some of the New Deal legislation until a frustrated FDR threatened to enlarge the Supreme Court to get around its rulings.
When key justices changed their mind in 1937, and when new members were added, the Supreme Court began upholding everything that had the magic ‘commerce clause’ in it. It was on this basis that the national government began enacting social security, national wage and hour laws, TV and radio regulation, environmental laws and gun laws.
The Court began a slow reversal in 1995 when it ruled against the Federal Gun Free Zones Act on the basis that it did not materially effect interstate commerce. In 2000 it struck down a portion of the Violence Against Women Act on the same basis.
Other clauses in Article I have been manipulated by Congress and the Executive to expand the power and scope of the federal government:
- The Spending Clause. Article I Section 8 authorizes the national government to “provide for the general welfare” of the Country, thus allowing it to spend money on worthwhile projects. Since the federal income tax was reintroduced in 1913 by the 16th Amendment, the national government had considerably more resources than the states. It gives some of this money back to the states but often with conditions, so that the federal government has been able to indirectly regulate areas where it otherwise lacks power. A wealthy state can refuse the federal money, but most states are so cash-strapped there is no choice. National highway funds have been used by the federal government to regulate speed limits, drinking age, and alcohol levels in drivers; recently the No Child Left Behind Act withholds federal education dollars depending on compliance with this program.
- The Taxing Clause. This clause allows the national government to “lay and collect taxes”. Normally taxes would be raised to fund those ‘worthy projects’ the government is authorized to do, and to provide for the national defense. But the government has used taxes to change behavior, such as smoking; alcohol consumption; and gasoline taxes (or prices) as a way to change driving patterns of Americans.
That health care insurance reform cannot be found in the Constitution or in any law is not in doubt.
That Congress has exceeded its enumerated powers, and abrogated others, is also not in doubt.
That Congress has found a way to grow government despite the restrictions of the Constitution by burying its intent in the Commerce Clause is now an issue we must face squarely, and thoughtfully.
This is the plan of the “designing and scheming men” our forefathers warned of, those who would use the legislative and executive branches to increase personal and corporate power at the expense of the people. The classic definition of tyranny.