Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Our Dysfunctional Republic Part 5

Article 1
The Legislative Branch


NOTE: Before I begin discussing the Constitution and what it actually says, I want to state that it would be worth everyone's time to read it, either before or during my discussion of the various articles. There is no way I can keep these essays brief if I go over each Article in microscopic detail. I am only trying to give an overview of what they say, and give a few examples of how our government is not playing by the rules, so to speak.

As we have already discussed, to legislate means to create laws. Article 1, Section 1of the Constitution states "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."

I would hope that most, if not all, Americans are aware that it is the job of Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, to create the laws which govern this country. However I wonder if they are aware of what the Constitution actually says regarding our Congress, and the limits it places upon what they can actually do.

Each branch of our federal government, as outlined in the Constitution, was set up to provide an intricate set of checks and balances so that no one branch held all the power or encroached upon another branch. This was done on purpose and has since been altered by the 17th amendment, which I will go into shortly.

It is clear by the following quote, found in Federalist #48 by James Madison, that the idea of keeping the individual branches of our government independent of each other was of great importance.

"It is agreed on all sides, that the powers properly belonging to one of the departments ought not to be directly and completely administered by either of the other departments. It is equally evident, that none of them ought to possess, directly or indirectly, an overruling influence over the others, in the administration of their respective powers. It will not be denied, that power is of an encroaching nature, and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it."

Each house of Congress had powers that were specifically theirs. For instance the House of Representatives has the power to impeach, yet the Senate has the power to try those impeachments. The House of Representatives has the authority to proposing bills that raise revenue, while the Senate has the power to add amendments to those bills.

All these separations were put into place for a specific reason, and to tinker with that delicate balance of power was to invite disaster. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution clearly states that "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof..."

In the Federalist Papers, both Alexander Hamilton and James Madison explain why this specific clause was put into the Constitution. In Federalist #27, Hamilton states,

"Various reasons have been suggested, in the course of these papers, to induce a probability that the general government will be better administered than the particular governments; the principal of which reasons are that the extension of the spheres of election will present a greater option, or latitude of choice, to the people; that through the medium of the State legislatures which are select bodies of men, and which are to appoint the members of the national Senate there is reason to expect that this branch will generally be composed with peculiar care and judgment"

In Federalist #62 Madison states, "It is equally unnecessary to dilate on the appointment of senators by the State legislatures. Among the various modes which might have been devised for constituting this branch of the government, that which has been proposed by the convention is probably the most congenial with the public opinion. It is recommended by the double advantage of favoring a select appointment, and of giving to the State governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former, and may form a convenient link between the two systems."

It was clear that the framers of the Constitution wanted the Senate to be tied to the state legislatures, which would give the states some say in the makeup and decision making of the federal government. All that changed with the 17th Amendment, which reads, "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof..." The states no longer have any say in the action of the federal government. The various state legislatures are reduced to mere lobbyists who can only urge the government to act in their behalf, where as before they had direct access via the ability to elect Senators who were beholden to the states.

The 17th Amendment was passed to correct procedural problems in which states went without representation in the Senate due to them being deadlocked when attempting to select a Senator to represent them in Congress. It would have been better to correct this procedural problem while leaving the states the power to select their own Senators. Now the states have slowly begun to lose their sovereignty to the federal government.

Now I would like to take some time to cover the specific powers granted to our Congress according to the Constitution. According to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, the Congress is only granted authority to legislate on the following items.

-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, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States

-To borrow money on the credit of the United States

-To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes

-To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States

-To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures

-To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States

-To establish post offices and post roads

-To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

-To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

-To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

-To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

-To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

-To provide and maintain a navy;

-To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

-To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

-To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

-To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;--

-To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Briefly now I would like to go over some of the authorities that Congress has not followed according to their constitutional mandate.

First off, the Congress has the power to coin money. Repeatedly they have given that power away to a central bank whose only interest is in their own profits. Andrew Jackson, the 17th President of the United States fought long and hard to do away with one of these central banks. Now we are under the influence of the Federal Reserve Bank, another privately owned bank that has been given a charter to coin our money and regulate its value. Thomas Jefferson had this to say about the banking industry, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the Congresses can give away the power to coin money and regulate its value to privately owned banks, therefore they have no right to do so.

Another power granted to Congress is that of declaring war. This is a touchy subject for many, with our current involvement in Iraq. Yet it is clearly stated that it is the Congress only who can declare war. How many wars have been fought without a declaration of war by Congress? Congress has given the President the authority to use military force, once again in their history, although in my opinion they made a terrible blunder when they stated in the Authorization For Use Of United States Armed Forces by saying, "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to.." This was a blank check for the president, which he has abused and put our country into serious debt and at the same time increasing anti-American sentiments among a majority of the Arab countries of the world.

Finally the Congress has the power to call forth the militia to "execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions" The dictionary defines an invasion as, an act or instance of invading, and one of the definitions for invade is to encroach upon. Illegal immigration on the scale with which we now suffer from can be considered nothing less than an invasion. Yet our Congress refuses to call forth the militia to defend our borders. The National Guard has been sent in limited numbers and with severe restrictions upon what it's duties are, so in effect they are useless against the tide of humanity that breaches our nations borders every day. With the current war on terror this is an unacceptable neglect of their constitutional obligation to defend our nation.

Those are just a few examples of their negligence. I am sure if you wanted to you could find more yourself, but for brevities sake I am trying to keep this as short as possible.

The next area of Article I of the Constitution is Section 9, the restrictions placed upon Congress. Section 9 states,

-The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

-The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

-No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

-No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

-No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

-No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one state, be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties in another.

-No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

-No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

The are two parts of section 9 that I would like to discuss. The first is this, "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." On September 28, 2006 the Senate signed the Military Commissions Act, which effectively grants the president the power to do just that, suspend habeas corpus for those whom he deems are attempting to harm this country. According to President Bush, the fact that the media was discussing certain policies the president was using in his war on terror was causing our country harm,. "For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America."

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said the following about the Military Commissions Act, "The bill before us would not merely suspend the great writ—the great writ—the writ of habeas corpus, it just eliminates it permanently. " We are not facing any rebellion, not that I am aware of anyway, and we are not being invaded, otherwise our Congress would have called forth the militia to defend us from it. So would Congress sign a bill which does away with such an important right? It is clearly a violation of their Constitutional powers to do so, and it is something you should be deeply concerned about.

Thomas Jefferson had this to say about the suspension of habeas corpus, "Why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections and rebellions? Examine the history of England. See how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas corpus law have been worthy of that suspension. They have been either real treasons, wherein the parties might as well have been charged at once, or sham plots, where it was shameful they should ever have been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein the suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, that operation is now become habitual and the minds of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant suspension."

The last part of Section 9 I would like to cover is this, "No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid..." Yet the 16th amendment changed all that by stating that, "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration." To understand the original intent of the Constitution you need to understand what a capitation is. Capitation, in regards to taxes, is a tax on the wages of the earner. Therefore prior to 1913, when the 16th amendment was ratified, there was no tax on your income.

As I previously mentioned in Part 1 of this series, William Henry Harrison said, “The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed.” Now why would any sane person propose a Constitutional amendment that would impose a tax upon the wages he earned? There are numerous people who have studied this and many have come to the conclusion that the 16th amendment was never properly ratified due to procedural mistakes. I am not here to argue that or not. I only want to discuss that as original designed, the Constitution granted Congress no power to tax your wages.

Jefferson said about taxes, "To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of the United States, that is to say, 'to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare.' For the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union."

There are numerous cases presently were people have researched the income tax laws and found them to be invalid. These people have petitioned the government to show them the law that states a persons income is subject to a direct tax. The government has refused to provide this information. Why would our government refuse to settle this once and for all by providing proof that this law exists? It does make you wonder about the validity of the 16th amendment and the continual plunder of the wages of the American public. Whatever the case, it goes against the original intent of the Constitution prior to the ratification of the 16th amendment.

Finally, Section 10 of Article 1 outlines the restrictions placed upon the states by the Constitution. They are as follows,

-No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

-No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

-No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

That is it, Article 1, the powers and authority granted to the Legislative branch of our government. I would urge each of you to read through it in its entirety and ponder the things that our government is doing, or considering doing. This is even more important now that an election cycle is underway. Their is talk among many of the candidates of a government health care program. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the government has the right or authority to mandate health care. There are so many areas that our government has overstepped it's authority that I could go on for pages. I have only just scratched the surface. I am hoping that you will take the time to think about what your congressman and senator is doing and hold them accountable to their oath to uphold the Constitution. After all, without it they have no power to begin with.

to be continued...

1 comment:

The Zombieslayer said...

All these separations were put into place for a specific reason, and to tinker with that delicate balance of power was to invite disaster.

Agreed.

As for the wars, the Executive Branch has been doing covert wars now for too long.