Tuesday, April 3, 2007

More on Legislative Absolutism

In a landmark Supreme Court case involving legislation beyond what is Constitutionally authorized, Justice Harlan issued a powerful dissent. Below is a portion of it, taken from Downes v. Bidwell, 182 US 244 (1901).

"The idea prevails with some, indeed it has found expression in arguments at the bar, that we have in this country substantially two national governments; one to be maintained under the Constitution, with all of its restrictions; the other to be maintained by Congress outside and independent of that instrument, by exercising such power as other nations of the earth are accustomed to…I take leave to say that, if the principles thus announced should ever receive the sanction of a majority of this court, a radical and mischievous change in our system of government will result. We will, in that event, pass from the era of constitutional liberty, guarded and protected by a written constitution into an era of legislative absolutism…IT WILL BE AN EVIL DAY FOR AMERICAN LIBERTY IF THE THEORY OF A GOVERNMENT OUTSIDE THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND FINDS LODGEMENT IN OUR CONSTITUTIONAL JURISPRUDENCE. No higher duty rests upon this court than to exert its full authority to prevent all violations of the principles of the Constitution." [emphasis in original]

For the last 100 years it has been "an evil day for American liberty", just as Justice Harlan predicted. Legislative Absolutism intrudes into almost all aspects of our lives, via national laws involving powers not delegated to the central Government by the Constitution. For some odd reason, most Americans actually believe that Congress can pass any law it so desires; and that it is up to the Supreme Court to strike down laws that are unconstitutional. The second half of that last sentence is true, but the first half is not. Congress is limited by the Constitution.

Congress has no Constitutional authority to authorize funding for---just a few examples---items such as: education (billions of dollars); an indoor rainforest project in Iowa ($50 million); the International Fund for Ireland ($18.5 million); HUD (over $500 billion); or, the Food Stamp Program (billions of dollars). If the central government stayed within its Constitutional limits, then there would be no national debt imposing the hidden tax of inflation, and all government operations could be paid for with corporate taxes, excise taxes, duties, and imposts.

[NOTE: It is important for each individual to realize that consumers are the ones who pay Corporate taxes (in addition to the misapplied Individual Income Tax). The amount of the tax is proportionately built into the price of each product. How many times do you want to pay income taxes?!]