Ron Paul – The Revolution: A Manifesto – Page 44 through Page 48

Page 44: The Bush administration abused executive orders and signing statements more than any other administration in the history of the US. American presidents must vow not to use these tactics to circumvent constitutional legislative procedure. Much of the revived interest in the constitution focuses on the Bill of Rights. It should be remembered that the constitution does not exist solely to protect the rights listed in the Bill of Rights. The purpose of the constitution is to limit the federal government’s power across the board. Thomas Jefferson held that the Tenth Amendment, all powers not expressly delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states, was the most important aspect of the constitution.

Quote: “Again, an American president must pledge never to use the signing statement as an alternative, unconstitutional form of legislative power, and the congress and the American people should hold him to it.”

Quote: “However, Americans must remember that the constitution was designed not merely to prevent the federal government from violating the rights that later appeared in the Bill of Rights. It was also intended to limit the federal government’s overall scope. Article 1, Section 8, lists the power of congress. Common law held such lists to be exhaustive.”

Page 45: The purpose of the tenth amendment was to ensure that laws would not be imposed by distant legislatures that would be impossible to control. Jefferson believed that no law could be passed by the federal government if the power was not listed in Article 1, Section 8, of the constitution, with no exceptions. Jefferson warned against deviating from the plain meaning of the text and interpreting the constitution in order to conform to current political agendas. In order to live in a free society, the federal government must be bound by the constitution.

Quote: “If a proposed federal law was not listed among the powers granted to congress in Article 1, Section 8, then no matter how otherwise attractive it seemed, it had to be rejected on constitutional grounds. If it were especially wise or desirable, there would be no difficulty in amending the constitution to allow for it.”

Quote (Thomas Jefferson): “Our particular security is in possession of a written constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.”

Page 46: If Americans are going to allow the federal government to ignore the amendment process and interpret the constitution as they see fit, there is really no point in having a constitution at all. Jefferson’s ideas on the constitution were indicative of the ideas held by his state’s representatives to the ratifying convention. The representatives from Virginia included Edmund Randolph, George Nicholas, Patrick Henry, and John Taylor of Caroline. Being overly trusting of the government is a sure road to despotism. The federal government must not be trusted to act responsibly but rather must be forced to comply with the rules laid down by the constitution. Many argue that the “general welfare” and the “necessary and proper” clauses of the constitution give the federal government additional powers.

Quote (Thomas Jefferson): “Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism. Free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence….In matters of Power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.”

Page 47: James Madison argued that if congress can do whatever they want in the name of the general welfare than government is no longer limited. The intent of the framers was not to give the federal government unlimited powers. If they did intend to give the federal government unlimited powers, there was no point in enumerating the powers of congress in Article 1, Section 8. Alexander Hamilton believed that the general welfare clause did give congress very broad powers. However, his opinion was not commonly held amongst the delegates to the constitutional convention. Hamilton also contradicted himself, supporting broad powers for congress in his 1791 Report on Manufacturers while denying congress the same powers in the Federalist No. 17 and Federalist No. 34.

Quote (James Madison): “If congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.”

Quote (James Madison): “With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

Page 48: Patrick Henry was deeply concerned about open-ended nature of the words “general-welfare”. It would be easy enough for government officials to argue that literally any action was for the general welfare of the citizens. The constitution is not a “living” document. It words cannot be interpreted differently depending on the times we are living in. There is clearly defined process for changing the constitution. It must be amended. Those who favor a “living” constitution prefer to have the constitution constantly reinterpreted by the federal courts as times and situations change. The federal government has no right to unilaterally change the meaning of the terms of its contract with the people without first consulting the people.


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