Primer in Constitutional law – Congress’ enumerated powers

Canada Free Press – By Publius Huldah —— Bio and Archives–October 17, 2010

1. With the U.S. Constitution, We The People created the federal government. It is our “creature”, and has no powers other than those We granted to it in The Constitution.

Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828), says re “constitution”:

…In free states, the constitution is paramount to the statutes or laws enacted by the legislature, limiting and controlling its power; and in the United States, the legislature is created, and its powers designated, by the constitution.

If you, dear Reader, will study this paper and read the Constitution, you will know more about it than most State & federal judges, most law professors & lawyers, most who spout off on TV & radio, and anybody in Congress (except for Michele Bachmann and perhaps a few others). And you will certainly know more than anyone currently occupying any office in the executive branch of the federal government.

2. The federal government * has three branches: Article I of the Constitution creates the legislative branch (Congress) & lists its powers; Article II creates the executive branch & lists its powers; and Article III creates the judicial branch & lists its powers.

In this paper, we will consider only the enumerated powers of Congress. But the powers of the other two branches are likewise strictly limited and enumerated.

3. Congress is NOT authorized to pass any law on any subject just because a majority in Congress think the law is a good idea! Instead, the areas in which Congress is authorized to act are strictly limited and defined (“enumerated”). Article I, § 8, grants to Congress the powers:

To lay certain taxes;
To pay the debts of the United States;
To declare war and make rules of warfare, to raise and support armies and a navy and to make rules governing the military forces; to call forth the militia for certain purposes, and to make rules governing the militia;
To regulate commerce with foreign Nations, and among the States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish uniform Rules of Naturalization;
To establish uniform Laws on Bankruptcies;
To coin money and regulate the value thereof;
To fix the standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting;
To establish post offices and post roads;
To issue patents and copyrights;
To create courts inferior to the supreme court; and
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the Laws of Nations.

Other provisions of the Constitution grant Congress powers to make laws regarding: Click here to read more.