RE: “It’s Unconstitutional”.

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!

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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20 Responses to RE: “It’s Unconstitutional”.

  1. The brush is not broad, its narrow.  The general welfare does not mean the government has the power to steal money from producers and give to non-producers or political allies, etc.The general welfare is VERY limited.  That’s the original intent of the Founders.  Original intent is critical to understanding what the Constitution really is. Without original intent the Constitution can mean anything to anybody.  It becomes a “living document” which is meaningless.The purpose of the Constitution is to shackle government so it cannot impinge on liberty.

  2. PervyPenguin says:

    Conservative republicans are people?News to me.

  3. agnophilo says:

    @LoBornlytesThoughtPalace – Declaring random things doesn’t make it so.  And the constitution IS a living document, sheesh.@PervyPenguin – Har.

  4. @agnophilo – What I said was specific not random in that it addressed and dismantled your central argument.

  5. agnophilo says:

    @LoBornlytesThoughtPalace – You didn’t even address my central argument.

  6. @agnophilo – There is no need to address an argument built on a false premise.  An argument built on a false premise is a false argument.To address your argument means that I would have to accept your hallucination about whatever it is you think you’re talking about.

  7. splinter1591 says:

    It’s all a manner of opinion and interpretation

  8. @LoBornlytesThoughtPalace – and now i shall address and dismantle *your* central argument: CUMULUS CLOUDS always. 

  9. agnophilo says:

    @splinter1591 – No, it’s a matter of congress passing laws within those general parameters.  Appeals to authority are just a way for people to avoid thinking, which was my point.

  10. splinter1591 says:

    @agnophilo – just because someone has different values or opinions then you doesn’t make them wrong”congress passing laws within those general parameters.”  there are people in congress, with opinions and different interpretations.  my point

  11. agnophilo says:

    @splinter1591 – I know, I’m saying it’s not a matter of interpreting the constitution so much as figuring out for ourselves what we should do, within the parameters therein. 

  12. The internet is unconstitutional! We are all unpatriotic hypocrites for using it to make discussion! 

  13. agnophilo says:

    @ElliottStrange – I know! And some people are probably using internet explorer – clearly we can tell from thomas jefferson’s correspondence he would use mozilla if he was here.  Duh.

  14. @agnophilo – We’ll have to draft an amendment for google chrome. 

  15. agnophilo says:

    @ElliottStrange – And we must make wikipedia our official state website.  It is an encyclopedia of the people, by the people and for the people who hate jews [citation needed].

  16. agnophilo says:

    @YouTOme – That’s a lotta ha : P

  17. why don’t we just get there already: THE CONSTITUTION IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. 

  18. I believe that section you quoted is often referred to as the “taxing and spending” clause, which is hotly debated (as far as how it should be interpreted) and has been so for a rather long time. Republicans and libertarians like to pretend that it doesn’t exist. If interpreted broadly, that clause allows congress to do anything it wants if that something is not specifically forbidden anywhere else in the constitution.It’s left up to Congress to determine what is necessary for the common defense and the general welfare and what taxes they need to collect to provide for these things. It is generally thought that the intention was for the federal government to intrude as little as possible into the lives of individual citizens – only when absolutely necessary. This interpretation is debatable, but even if taken to be entirely true would be a naive approach that has proven over time to not be entirely viable.

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