People often argue (and when I say people, I mean conservative republicans) that something is unconstitutional simply because it is not specifically mentioned in the original constitution. They treat the constitution like scripture dogmatically handed down from the Founding Fathers that us mere mortals cannot possibly improve or expand upon. Hallowed be thy names, oh Founders!
But lets entertain this mentality for a moment. What else isn’t specifically mentioned in the constitution?
Helicopters. Should the army not be able to use them anymore?
Nuclear weapons. Should we dismantle or sell our stockpile?
Assault weapons, land mines, cruise missiles and so on.
You get the idea.
No, of course these things are not mentioned in the constitution. The constitution does not micro-manage these things, in this area it gives congress a broad brush by simply saying it has the power to “provide for the common defense”. Congress determines the fine details through the democratic process, voting, passing laws etc. People who don’t know their civics think that unless something is specifically ordered in the constitution it is not US law. That isn’t how it works.
“That’s unconstitutional!” has become a catch-phrase used lazily by pundits to attack things they don’t agree with or that are proposed by the other side than the one they’re paid to cheer-lead for.
For instance pundits constantly claim that “welfare” programs are unconstitutional, but no one would propose that defense spending is unconstitutional. But here is how they are stated in article 1, section 8 of the constitution:
“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”
A broad brush in both cases. The specific details of how to do either are to be hashed out by congress.
It’s tragic I know, but if this gets out, the talking heads on TV might have to actually argue the merits of specific legislation rather than lazily falling back on bogus and vague claims of absolute authority which they themselves contradict whenever it suits them.
Oh the humanity!