Friday, June 4th, 2010
Thank you to our Guest Constitutional Scholar Blogger, Julia Shaw! And thank you to all who posted your comments today.
While reading Federalist 27, I found myself thinking, “How was Hamilton so wrong?”
He begins by arguing with one of the premises of the anti-federalists:
“As far as I have been able to divine the latent meaning of the objectors, it seems to originate in a presupposition that the people will be disinclined to the exercise of federal authority in any matter of an internal nature.”
Hamilton may be correct that people will be accepting of the federal government if it is well administered, but as Peter Roff so correctly points out in his coment today, it is impossible to effectively manage the behemoth the federal government has become. And while most people do not mind the exercise of federal authority in the internal matters enumerated as federal powers in the Constitution, what they do mind is the federal government’s usurpation of those powers that according to the 10th Amendment are ”reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
This quote startled me as well:
“The inference is, that the authority of the Union, and the affections of the citizens towards it, will be strengthened, rather than weakened, by its extension to what are called matters of internal concern.”
Ask any small businessperson who is struggling to comply with EPA, OSHA, IRS, and numerous other sources of “red tape,” if his or her affection towards the federal government is strengthened or weakened by all the mandates, regulations, rules and laws with which he must comply.
Hamilton could not have imagined the reach the modern day federal government has into U.S. citizen’s “internal” lives. He had no way of knowing the 17th Amendment would be added to the U.S. Constitution, one of many factors that threw off the systems of checks and balances the founders had so carefully constructed to avoid a power grab by the federal government.
Hamilton got this right, however:
“It will be sufficient here to remark, that until satisfactory reasons can be assigned to justify an opinion, that the federal government is likely to be administered in such a manner as to render it odious or contemptible to the people, there can be no reasonable foundation for the supposition that the laws of the Union will meet with any greater obstruction from them, or will stand in need of any other methods to enforce their execution, than the laws of the particular members.”
Many would argue that we are moving into the “odious and contemptible” zone with the ever expanding powers of the federal government contained in some of the legislation passed in the last few years. At least 13 states would deem the health care bill “odious and contemptible,” as they mount their constitutional challenges to it.
In the comments section tonight, Adam proposed an interesting idea – a fourth branch of government entitled the Accountability Branch. I would argue that branch already exists, but it goes by another name: “We The People.” We are charged with keeping the government accountable. As Janine wrote so eloquently in her Fox News Op Ed, Your Vote is Your Voice, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/04/30/janine-turner-supreme-court-justice-constitution-elections-elected/, our power to vote is the great leveler in restoring the balance to our government.
In order to use that power wisely, We The People, of the Accountability Branch, must be educated and awake. Thank you to all of you for your participation, and for your wakefulness! Let’s keep spreading the word, and inviting others to join us!
Good night and God Bless,