Judiciary Chair Cites Non-Existent Constitutional Clause in Justifying UnConstitutional Insurance Mandate
As of right now, 12 states have filed suits against the federal government for their unConstitutional requirement that all Americans must purchase health insurance. Never before has the federal government compelled Americans to purchase a product, regardless of the reason.
So where does it get this power?
That’s what CNS News asked Rep. John Conyers, House chair of the Judiciary Committee. Here’s what he said:
Conyers said: “Under several clauses, the good and welfare clause and a couple others. All the scholars, the constitutional scholars that I know — I’m chairman of the Judiciary committee, as you know — they all say that there’s nothing unconstitutional in this bill and if there were, I would have tried to correct it if I thought there were.”
There is no such clause, as CNS points out. Good only appears in the Constitution once, and not anywhere near the “general welfare” clause I’m certain Conyers is trying to say.
But even then, the general welfare clause does not give the government the authority to compel me, at the point of a gun, to buy gumballs, let alone health insurance.
This is not a topic readers of All American Blogger are unfamiliar with. At least three different authors there have written on this.
Travis Farral wrote “Uncommon Sense.” Andrew Min wrote “Spending and the general welfare.” And I wrote, “General Welfare Insanity or How We Are Spending Ourselves into Oblivion.”
They all come to the same conclusion. The Framers were right.
James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, shared the same opinion as Jefferson. In a letter to Edmund Pendleton in 1792, Madison wrote, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions.”
The Father of the Constitution believed that unlimited spending was completely unconstitutional. So what did he do about it? Madison wrote a list of what Congress could do. These are listed in Article 1, Section 8:
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 an 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, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
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.
Nowhere in there is there any mention of welfare or health care or any form of any kind of aid. But is this the only list of things the government can do? Yes, according to Madison:
With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators
Thomas Jefferson wrote repeatedly of such potential abuses of the Constitution:
“Aided by a little sophistry on the words “general welfare,” [the federal branch claim] a right to do not only the acts to effect that which are specifically enumerated and permitted, but whatsoever they shall think or pretend will be for the general welfare.”
-Thomas Jefferson to William Branch Giles, 1825. ME 16:147
“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.”
– Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on National Bank, 1791. ME 3:147
“They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please… Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straitly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect.”
– Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on National Bank, 1791. ME 3:148
“Where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.”
– Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798. ME 17:386
“I suppose an amendment to the Constitution, by consent of the States, necessary [for certain objects of public improvement], because the objects now recommended are not among those enumerated in the Constitution, and to which it permits the public moneys to be applied.”
– Thomas Jefferson: 6th Annual Message, 1806. ME 3:424
“The construction applied… to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate to Congress a power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imports, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States,” and “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof,” goes to the destruction of all limits prescribed to [the General Government’s] power by the Constitution… Words meant by the instrument to be subsidiary only to the execution of limited powers ought not to be construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument.”
– Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798. ME 17:385
“In every event, I would rather construe so narrowly as to oblige the nation to amend, and thus declare what powers they would agree to yield, than too broadly, and indeed, so broadly as to enable the executive and the Senate to do things which the Constitution forbids.”
– Thomas Jefferson: The Anas, 1793. ME 1:408
“I say… to the opinion of those who consider the grant of the treaty-making power as boundless: If it is, then we have no Constitution. If it has bounds, they can be no others than the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives.”
– Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Nicholas, 1803. ME 10:419
Jefferson makes a pointed case. If the Constitution gives Congress boundless authority, then we have no Constitution.
The “General Welfare Clause” is the refuge of an unConstitutional act and an unConstitutional thinker. Or, in Conyers case, a Constitutional illiterate.
The “General Welfare Clause” does not do what the leftists in Congress want it to do. The Framers made that very clear. Yet today we find Democrats using it to justify sending IRS agents to your house to collect money for a fine imposed on you because you didn’t buy what the government told you to buy.
Is that freedom, or is it tyranny?
Let’s end with a video about a man who understood the Constitution, and who had it taught to him by one of his constituents.
It’s very timely, considering the current discussion:
Crockett got it. Conyers clearly doesn’t. Some many others today never did or will.
Cross posted at All American Blogger.
Duane Lester is co-founder of All American Blogger, and the primary writer. Following graduation, Duane entered the United States Navy as a journalist. He spent five years touring the world, reporting on local news and sports. Following his enlistment, Duane spent almost 10 years working with adjudicated youth in residential treatment environments. Duane discovered politics after September 11. He credits Erich "Mancow" Muller for opening his eyes to his conservative beliefs. Since then, Duane has devoured books and literature on politics, reading everything he can from Adam Smith to Larry Elder to Thomas Sowell. He refers to his style of politics as "conserva-tarian", a mixture of conservative and libertarian beliefs.