Friday, November 6, 2009

Why even ask Roland Burris that question?

I can see a tree and a concrete parking barrier right behind him, and either of them could have explained it better. Don't be lazy, reporter guy.

So Roland Burris says the Constitution contains a clause empowering Congress to "provide for" the health of American citizens. Turns out he was thinking of the preamble to the Constitution, which A) Doesn't say that, and B) is a preamble.

Seriously, children and politicians everywhere, I realize that the preamble to the U.S. Constitution says the words ". . . promote the general welfare . . ." But the thing is, those ellipses aren't just random, they kind of matter. Specifically, the ones right before the phrase that justifies a huge amount of our federal government stand in for the words "in order to," among others. They were never meant to bestow any power upon any part of the federal government. That is done very explicitly later on in the clauses designed for the purpose. All the preamble says about the general welfare is that it's one reason for the powers and limitations that will be created in the main body of the document.
To say that the powers and limitations put on Congress in Article One (By the Beard of Odin's Manservant, it's right there on the same page, people) are irrelevant because of the clause that was only supposed to explain why those powers and limitations are there in the first place is perverse.

And here's what the Roland Burrises of the world may genuinely not understand: when the preamble says that the Constitution is ordained in order to accomplish some objective, such as promoting the general welfare, it means that the limits on federal powers contained in the Constitution were conceived for that purpose just as much as any of the powers. The Constitution is a document of strict limits on the federal government for a reason. If nothing else, it should worry us that we're using laws that were intended to limit federal power as our excuse to remove all limits on federal power. When you use Super Glue as a solvent, bad things happen.

1 comment:

Jay G said...

Aw, c'mon. Next you're going to tell us that "separation of Church and State" isn't anywhere in the Constitution either!