"Letters to the Editor"
The Wall Street Journal
Judge Don Willett addressed the caution of Benjamin Franklin, that we have a Republic, “if you can keep it.” I would assert that we already have not kept it. In fact, we have disastrously lost it.
The New Deal Supreme Court ruled that the “general welfare” clause [of the Constitution] means that the federal government can spend money on anything, and that the “interstate commerce” clause means that the federal government can regulate anything that “affects” interstate commerce.
As it happens, this interpretation of “general welfare” was proposed to President Washington by Alexander Hamilton. Both Jefferson and Madison sharply disputed it. Madison said that such an interpretation “would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.” While Jefferson said that the interpretation would render the Constitution “nugatory.” This is what has happened.
The New Deal interpretation of the “commerce clause,” of course, would give the federal government the power to do anything, as was candidly admitted not long ago by Democratic Congressman Pete Stark of California. It has been suggested, without much argument, that the federal government could require all Americans to eat broccoli.
In sum, then, the New Deal rulings created a government of absolute and unlimited power, not the Constitutional government of limited and enumerated powers. As Jefferson said, and would say, “This is not the government we fought for.”
But our modern judges, like Judge Willett, literally do not seem aware that something has gone wrong, even with the evidence of corruption, feudal patronage, and arbitrary and irresponsible authority that are now practiced in the United States, under the complacent toleration of both major political parties, not to mention academia and the press.
It is a sad Constitution Day in 2018.
Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D.
Other matters which the federal government has diverged from Constitutional government are:
Only Military reservations have anything to do with the Constitutional powers and duties of the federal government, with the provision that Indian Reservations correlate to the residual sovereignty of the Indian Nations, whose ownship is claimed by the Nations themselves, despite the power and control of the federal government over them. Otherwise, federal ownership is spurious, especially including National Forests and BLM lands, which were created on the false prinicple that their productive economic management required the control by the federal government. This Sovietizing nonsense has now been suplemented by the ideology and the practice of removing such lands from economic use, both for ostensibly environmental reasons but also often for reasons of vindicative political punishment, mainly directed against Republican Utah by Democratic Presidents (both Clinton and Obama).
The unconstitutional and often malicious nature of federal ownership of public lands, almost exclusively in the West, has been a matter of occasional complaint by Western States and by local landowners, who sometimes are persecuted in attempts to get them to cede their own lands to federal reservations, along with denial of traditional use permits on public lands. Complaints about federal ownership were briefly conspicuous as the "Sagebrush Rebellion" in the 1980's, but this has died down; and today nothing seems to be done by the victimized States to recover their lands, even notionally. The Senators who might be expected to promote the rights and interests of their States in Congress are curiously quiet. Yet it is a blatant and vicious misuse of federal power.