Publius-Huldah's Blog

Understanding the Constitution

Why Congress May Lawfully Require Citizens to Buy Guns & Ammunition, But Not To Submit To Obamacare.

By Publius Huldah.

Harvard Law School was embarrassed recently when one of its graduates, the putative President of the United States, demonstrated that he was unaware that the supreme Court has constitutional authority to declare an act of Congress unconstitutional.1

And after reading a recent paper by Harvard law professor Einer Elhauge, one wonders whether the academic standards (or is it the moral standards?) of that once great school have collapsed.

Professor Elhauge says in “If Health Insurance Mandates Are Unconstitutional, Why Did the Founding Fathers Back Them?” (The New Republic, April 13, 2012), that Congress may force us to buy health insurance   because in 1792, our Framers required all male citizens to buy guns; and in 1798 required ship owners using U.S. ports (dock-Yards) to pay a fee to the federal government in order to fund hospitals for sick or disabled seamen at the U.S. ports.

Oh! What tangled webs are woven when law professors write about Our Constitution!

I have already proved that Art. I, Sec. 8, next to last clause (which grants to Congress “exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever” over dock-Yards and the other federal enclaves) is what authorizes Congress to assess the fee from ship owners who use the federal dock-Yards. See: Merchant Seamen in 1798, Health Care on Federal Enclaves, and Really Silly Journalists.

Now I will show you where the Constitution grants authority to Congress to require adult citizens to get armed!

The Constitution Authorizes Congress To Require Citizens to Buy Guns and Ammunition.

In 1792, Congress passed “An Act more effectually to provide for the National Defense by establishing an Uniform Militia throughout the United States”.2 This Act required all able-bodied male citizens (except for federal officers and employees) between the ages of 18 and under 45 to enroll in their State Militia, get a gun and ammunition, and train.

Does Congress have authority in the Constitution to require this?  Yes!  Article I, Sec. 8, clause 16 says Congress has the Power:

“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;” [boldface mine]

That is what authorizes Congress to require adult male citizens to buy guns and ammunition.

As Section 1 of the Militia Act of 1792 reflects, the “Militia” is the citizenry!  Our Framers thought it such a fine idea that The People be armed, that they required it by law!  See, e.g., the second half of Federalist Paper No. 46 where James Madison, Father of Our Constitution, speaks of how wonderful it is that the American People are armed – and why they need to be. 3

So!  In the case of Congress’ requiring adult citizens to buy guns and ammunition, Congress has specific authority under Art. I, Sec. 8, cl.16.

In the case of Congress’ requiring ship owners who use the federal dock-Yards to pay the fees to fund the marine hospitals at the dock-Yards, Congress is granted by Art. I, Sec.8, next to last clause, a general legislative power over the federal enclaves, such as dock-Yards.4

But for the country at large, Congress has no broad grant of legislative powers. There, Congress’ powers are few, limited, and strictly defined.  See: Congress’ Enumerated Powers.

Now, let us look at obamacare.

What Clause in The Constitution Authorizes Congress to Force Us into Obamacare?

Nothing! Over the Country at large (as opposed to the federal enclaves), Congress has only enumerated powers.  These enumerated powers are listed in Art. I, Sec. 8, clauses 1-16 and in the Amendments addressing civil and voting rights. No enumerated power authorizes the federal government to force us into obamacare.

So, Professor Elhauge introduces a nasty bit of poison.  He says:

“Nevermind that nothing in the text or history of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause indicates that Congress cannot mandate commercial purchases.”

Do you see what he is doing? Surely he knows that obamacare is not authorized by any enumerated power.  So!  He asserts that nothing in the commerce clause says Congress can’t force us into obamacare.  He thus seeks to pervert Our Constitution from one of enumerated powers only, to an abomination which says the federal government can do whatever it pleases as long as the commerce clause doesn’t forbid it.

Furthermore, what he says is demonstrably false.  The Federalist Papers & Madison’s Journal of the Federal Convention show that the purpose of the interstate commerce clause is to prevent the States from imposing tolls & tariffs on articles of merchandize as they are transported through the States for purposes of buying and selling. For actual quotes from Our Framers and irrefutable Proof that this is the purpose of the interstate commerce clause, see: “Does the Interstate Commerce Clause Authorize Congress to Force Us to Buy Health Insurance?”.

Obamacare is unconstitutional as outside the scope of the legislative powers granted to Congress by Our Constitution. And it does much more than force us to buy medical insurance. Obamacare turns medical care over to the federal government to control. Bureaucrats in the Department of Health and Human Services will decide who gets medical treatment and what treatment they will get; and who will be denied medical treatment. If you think the federal government is doing a great job feeling up old ladies and little children at airports, wait until they are deciding whether you get medical care or “the painkiller”.

Folks! The Time has come that we must recognize that social security and Medicare are also unconstitutional as outside the scope of the legislative powers granted to Congress by Our Constitution. We must confess that it is wicked to seek to live at other peoples’ expense! And when a People renounce Personal Responsibility – as we did when we embraced social security & Medicare – the federal government takes control.

Social security and Medicare are fiscally bankrupt. Obamacare, which will prevent old people from getting medical care, is the progressives’ way of dealing with the unfunded liabilities in these programs: Kill off old people by preventing them from getting medical care!

The Piper will be paid. Shall we pay him by killing off old people?

Or, shall we return to Personal Responsibility and dismantle (in an orderly fashion) the wicked, unconstitutional, and fiscally unworkable social security and Medicare programs?

Endnotes:

1 Our Framers gave us an elegant system of Checks & Balances: Each branch of the federal government has a “check” on the other two branches.  This is expressed primarily in the Oath of Office (Art. VI, cl. 3 & Art. II, Sec. 1, last clause) which requires each branch to obey the Constitution and not the other branches! The supreme Court’s check on Congress is to declare their Acts unconstitutional:   See (in addition to the Oath) Art. III, Sec. 2, cl. 1; Federalist No. 78 (8th -15th paras); and Marbury v. Madison (1803).

Congress’ check on the judicial branch is to impeach and remove federal judges who usurp power (Federalist No. 81, 8th para).

2 Here is the URL for the Militia Act of 1792:  Read it! And note how short it is.  http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=001/llsl001.db&recNum=394

3 In “The Patriot”, Mel Gibson’s character commanded a South Carolina Militia – civilians who took up arms against the British. Everyone knew that “the Militia” was the armed citizenry – farmers, trappers, shopkeepers, clergy, etc.  It still is.

4 Attorney Hal Rounds provides fascinating additional information on this issue: “Ships will dump sick sailors wherever they may make landfall, and the locals have the burden of dealing with the victim. Their care then raises the legal right to compensation for their services, which the law of nations allows to be levied against the nation, not just the owners, of the ship.” For Mr. Round’s full comment see the Postscript of April 7, 2012 here. PH

May 3, 2012
Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to MySpaceAdd to NewsvineAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

May 3, 2012 Posted by | Einer Elhauge, federal enclaves, Health Care, Interstate Commerce Clause, Medicare, Merchant Seamen healthcare, Militia, obamacare, Personal Responsibility, social security | , , , | 26 Comments

Merchant Seamen In 1798, Health Care On Federal Enclaves, And Really Silly Journalists.

By Publius Huldah.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing; and no one illustrates this Principle better than Forbes’ writer Rick Unger in his article, “Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance – In 1798”,  Washington Post writer Greg Sargent and Georgetown University history professor Adam Rothman.

In 1798, Congress passed An Act for the relief of sick and disabled Seamen which required the master of every American ship arriving from foreign ports to any port of the United States, and American ships engaged in the coastal trade using those ports, to pay a small fee to the federal government for every seaman employed on his ship. The funds so raised were used to care for sick and disabled seamen in the marine hospitals established in the ports of the United States.

So!  Unger cited this 1798 Act and chortled with glee that our Framers supported “socialized medicine”; and so the “political right-wing” should stop “pretending” that our Founding Fathers would oppose obamacare.

Greg Sargent chimed in to the same effect, and quoted history professor Adam Rothman for the idiotic propositions that

“…the post-revolutionary generation clearly thought that the national government had a role in subsidizing health care … that in itself is pretty remarkable and a strong refutation of the basic principles that some Tea Party types offer … This defies a lot of stereotypes about limited government in the early republic.”

But Unger’s, Sargent’s and Rothman’s statements are so transparently ignorant they can be disposed of in a few paragraphs:

Congress’ Three Categories of Legislative Powers

One:  Congress has only limited legislative powers over the Country at large. These legislative powers are restricted to war, international commerce & relations; and domestically, the creation of an uniform commercial system:  weights & measures, patents & copyrights, a monetary system based on gold & silver, bankruptcy laws, and mail delivery. Various Amendments granted to Congress certain powers over civil rights. These enumerated powers are the only areas wherein the national government has lawful (constitutional) authority over The States and The People in The States.  In all other matters [except those listed at Art. I, Sec. 10] the States and The People retained supremacy, independence, and sovereignty.

TwoArticle I, Sec. 8, clause 17, U.S. Constitution, says:

“The Congress shall have Power 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 Legislatures of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;”  [boldface mine]

“Exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever” over “dock-Yards”. Do you see?  It is this clause which grants to Congress authority to establish marine hospitals on dock-Yards belonging to the United States.  Congress has a general legislative authority over the federal enclaves, such as dock-Yards. That legislative authority is limited only by the Bill of Rights.

In Federalist Paper No. 43 at 2., James Madison explains in three short paragraphs [read them!] why the federal government must have “complete authority” over the federal enclaves listed at Art. I, Sec. 8, cl.17.

Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 32 (2nd para), comments also on the grant of “EXCLUSIVE LEGISLATION” over the federal enclaves [capitals are Hamilton’s] in “The last clause but one in the eighth section of the first article…”

Do you see?  That grant of “exclusive legislation” is restricted to the federal enclaves.

Three:  Article IV, Sec. 3, cl. 2,  grants to Congress the “Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States…”  Madison shows in Federalist No. 43 at 5. that “the Territory” referred primarily to the Western Territory before it was formed into States.

That’s it, Folks!

So!  While Rick Unger crowed in his article,

“While I’m sure a number of readers are scratching their heads in the effort to find the distinction between the circumstances of 1798 and today, I think you’ll find it difficult.”

It’s not difficult at all!  All one has to do is read Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 17, which permits Congress to make such a law for American ships using the dock-Yards belonging to the United States. That’s what “exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever” means.  Do you see?

Congress has no such legislative authority for the Country at large. There, it is limited and   enumerated. PH

April 5, 2012

Postscript Added April 7, 2012:

Attorney Hal Rounds (Memphis, TN), gave me the following fascinating information:

“My GGrandfather was a U.S. Consul, his last post was in Nova Scotia. Among his records is a series of reports regarding how he arranged for the isolation, shelter, and nursing in Nova Scotia of an American sailor ill with smallpox. The ship left, after disembarking the now useless – and contagious – victim. This care necessitated local expenses and hiring. I do not know what, if any, of the cost was borne by the ship owner, and what portion was by the U.S. Government. (The sailor survived, and eventually was sent on his way.)

But the duties of a nation extend to some services to its citizens abroad. These are, of course, governed by treaties and customary traditions. So, a law requiring a ship operator to insure his crew fits in with the federal authority to regulate “commerce with foreign nations” and its jurisdiction over U.S. flag shipping outside, or traveling between, state jurisdictions. Because ships will dump sick sailors wherever they may make landfall, and the locals have the burden of dealing with the victim. Their care then raises the legal right to compensation for their services, which the law of nations allows to be levied against the nation, not just the owners, of the ship.

The requirement in 1798 addressed these concerns. It was not a requirement to subsidize health care for the citizenry at large, but to indemnify the federal government against claims that would arise in the course of the U.S. being a nation engaged in international trade, and, under the law of nations, responsible for the burdens its commerce threw upon foreigners; and to accommodate the demands the foreign vessels would dump on us.”

THANK YOU, Hal!  I showed how Congress had the authority to make the law; you explained why Congress needed to make the law, and provided additional constitutional authority for Congress to make the law.  PH

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to MySpaceAdd to NewsvineAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

April 5, 2012 Posted by | federal enclaves, Health Care, Merchant Seamen healthcare, obamacare | , , , , | 6 Comments

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 821 other followers