Friday, August 8, 2014

The thirty enumerated powers

In order to prevent the Federal government from getting too big, and therefore gaining too much influence over the people, the founding fathers created Article II Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives congress only 30 enumerated powers.

So, what are enumerated powers? They are those powers specifically delegated to Congress by the U.S. Constitution.  That means that Congress only has the right to rule on these 30 things.

Article II section 8 lists all of these powers:
  1. To collect taxes in order to provide a common defense and general welfare of the people
  2. To borrow money on the credit of the United States
  3. To regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states, and with Indian tribes
  4. To establish an uinform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform laws regarding bankruptcies within the United States
  5. To coin money, regulate the value therof, and fix the standard of weights and measures.
  6. To provide punishment for counterfeiting the securities and Coin of the U.S.
  7. To establish a post office and post roads
  8. To promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries
  9. To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court
  10. To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
  11. To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
  12. To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
  13. To provide and maintain a Navy;
  14. To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
  15. To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
  16. 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;
  17. 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 Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
  18. To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
  19. No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws:and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
  20. The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
  21. In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
  22. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.
  23. The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
  24. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
  25. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
  26. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union;
  27. The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
  28. The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress
  29. The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment…
  30. The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
  31. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
Basically, Article II Section 8 limits the power of government to just a few things, including: standard weights and measures, coining money, post offices and post roads, the protection of intellectual property, and a national defense. Beyond these and a few other very specific items, there was not much for which the federal government was responsible.

These powers have obviously been loosely regarded by both Congress and the Supreme Court.  However, what is not listed here Congress has no legal authority to rule upon.  For all other issues Congress must refer to the 10th amendment: 
The 10th Amendment:  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
So by the law, the Congress has no right to make any laws regarding punishment except for the counterfeiting of money, treason, and impeachment.  All other laws regarding punishment, including murder and abortion, are reserved to the states, and therefore the people, to decide.

It was written this way to protect the rights of the states, and to limit the scope and power of the Federal government over the states. Another reason for this was to give states unlimited power, although they had limited funds to which to run government programs, as only the Federal government reserved the right to print money.

This system also allowed for the states to be risky with new programs, with other states copying the programs of other states that worked.  When a state's program failed, the other states would bail that state out.  If the Federal government failed, there would be on one, other than another country or group of countries (such as the United Nations) to bail it out. So this prevented the Federal government from taking unnecessary risk.

According to Kevin Price, "at, "What are 'enumerated powers' and why do they matter, "The Founders of this republic believed in the dispersion of power. They did such in order to maximize individual freedom and to protect the power of the states. This unique system helped to limit the amount of money taxpayers spent on programs they disagreed with because on the federal level, all the enumerated powers were beneficial to all. Meanwhile, people had the power and freedom to move from state to state in order to find a government that best suited their needs. That power to "vote with their feet" kept most state government very small."

According to the Constitution, the Congress has no right to make any law regarding retirement, insurance, health, nor education, leaving these institutions up to the states, and therefore the people, to decide.

In other words, the size, scope and influence of the current government in the United States is illegal and must be scaled back.