Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"The power will have been deliberately assumed..."

Journal of the Senate of the United States of America,
May 3, 1854
"...If, in presenting my objections to this bill, I should say more than strictly belongs to the measure, or is required for the discharge of my official obligation, let it be attributed to a sincere desire to justify my act before those whose good opinion I so highly value, and to that earnestness which springs from my deliberate conviction that a strict adherence to the terms and purposes of the federal compact offers the best, if not the only, security for the preservation of our blessed inheritance of representative liberty...."
"...and it presents at the threshold the question whether any such act on the part of the federal government is warranted and sanctioned by the Constitution, the provisions and principles of which are to be protected and sustained as a first and paramount duty...."
"...The whole field of public beneficence is thrown open to the care and culture of the federal government. Generous impulses no longer encounter the limitations and control of our imperious fundamental law. For, however worthy may be the present object in itself, it is only one of a class. It is not exclusively worthy of benevolent regard. Whatever considerations dictate sympathy for this particular object, apply in like manner, if not in the same degree. . . . If Congress may and ought to provide for any one of these objects, it may and ought to provide for them all. And if it be done in this case, what answer shall be given when Congress shall be called upon, as it doubtless will be, to pursue a similar course of legislation in the others? It will obviously be vain to reply that the object is worthy, but that the application has taken a wrong direction. The power will have been deliberately assumed..."
"...And if it were admissible to contemplate the exercise of this power for any object whatever, I cannot avoid the belief that it would in the end be prejudicial, rather than beneficial...."

"...Are we not too prone to forget that the federal Union is the creature of the States, not they of the federal Union? We were the inhabitants of colonies, distinct in local government one from the other, before the revolution. By that revolution, the colonies each became an independent State. . . . And when the people of the several States had, in their State conventions, and thus alone, given effect and force to the Constitution, not content that any doubt should in future arise as to the scope and character of this act, they engrafted thereon the explicit declaration that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," ..."
"... I have never found anything in the Constitution which is susceptible of such a construction. No one of the enumerated powers touches the subject, or has even a remote analogy to it...."
"...If it were otherwise, all the rest of the Constitution, consisting of carefully-enumerated and cautiously-guarded grants of specific powers, would have been useless, if not delusive. It would be impossible, in that view, to escape from the conclusion that these were inserted only to mislead for the present, and, instead of enlightening and defining the pathway of the future, to involve its action in the mazes of doubtful construction. Such a conclusion the character of the men who framed that sacred instrument will never permit us to form. Indeed, to suppose it susceptible of any other construction, would be to consign all the rights of the States, and of the people of the States, to the mere discretion of Congress, and thus to clothe the federal government with authority to control the sovereign States, by which they would have been dwarfed into provinces or departments, and all sovereignty vested in an absolute consolidated central power, against which the spirit of liberty has so often, and in so many countries, struggled in vain. In my judgment, you cannot, by tributes to humanity, make any adequate compensation for the wrong you would inflict, by removing the sources of power and political action from those who are to be thereby affected...."

The rest of the article can be read by clicking the link above. The President goes on, and continues to makes some very good points concerning proper, and Constitutional, legislative authority. There are some quotations and obsevations at the end of the article as well....


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