Has Congress Failed Us? (18 of 20)

The rights and privileges of the people are restricted. The fault lies with Congress. The supreme Court holds that the federal government has power to regulate insurance on the basis that it is interstate commerce. The Congress is guilty. The president issues executive decrees having the force of law and these decrees deprive men of their right to civil trial by jury. It is Congress that has betrayed the American people.

Congress ought to be the strongest branch of the government, and the guarantor of the rights of the people. congress represents the people. All legislative powers of the federal government have been delegated to it. The people expect their rights to be preserved. It is their right to have them upheld inviolate.

The Constitution lists the delegations of authority that the sovereign people have given to their legislative department. It may collect taxes, duties and imposts, borrow money and pay the debts of the government. It is authorized to regulate commerce with foreign nations and between states. It can make rules governing naturalization and pass uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies. The power to coin money and regulate its value, and to fix the standards of weights and measures have been delegated to it. Copyrights and patents, the punishment of counterfeiting, and the establishing of post offices and post roads are among its functions.

The Congress can declare war and make rules governing captures on land an water. It can raise and support armies and navies and make rules to govern them; however, no money can be appropriated for the use of the army for a longer term than two years. It can provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.

The Congress can define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, as well as other offenses against the laws of nations. It can create federal courts. It has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, and over all forts, magazines, arsenals, dock yards, and such that may be acquired in the several states.

The Congress has power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper to carry into execution any of the functions delegated to it in the Constitution. But that is all the power it has. No act can be done which cannot be justified under a specific clause or phrase in the supreme law of the land.

The fault with Congress has not been that it has not enough power to perform the functions that need to be performed by a national government. The trouble has been that the delegations of authority have been so construed by the lawmakers as to permit the passage of laws which will dictate the domestic and internal affairs of the states.

The single phrase in the Constitution that has given rise to more litigation than any other is the one authorizing Congress to regulate commerce among the states. That seems plain enough when taken at its face value, and it was probably plain enough to the men who wrote the document and to the people who originally adopted it.

To regulate commerce among the states is simply to establish rules which shall govern the transportation of items of commerce from one state to another. But, as it has developed, it is not quite that simple. The congress has chosen to regulate all things incident to the manufacture of goods which after their manufacture may be transported into another state. This type of regulation includes wages and hours, social security, labor conditions, price control, and nearly all matters pertaining to social and economic conditions.

The Supreme Court which interprets and sustains or rejects the enactments of Congress has over along period of time, and by repeatedly broadening the definition of interstate commerce, finally come tot he point where it upholds such legislation as being within the delegation of authority of Congress to act. One constitutional authority concludes that, “the commerce power, as interpreted in case after case, now seems sufficiently broad to provide grounds for control of almost all aspects of the economic life of the nation.”

The fault is not with the courts. They are bound to sustain the legislation if they can. The fault is not with the president, at least not ultimately. He can act in the legislative field only under delegations of authority from Congress. The fault lies with the Congress, or perhaps ultimately with the people, for sending to Congress men who will vote for social and economic measures which usurp the powers of states over their internal and domestic matters.

Unless America wants a strong central government controlled from Washington and that necessarily by bureaus, her Congress must be required to confine regulations governing commerce to goods in transit, and return the control of manufacturing back to the states. It is a question as to whether the people prefer local self-government or centralized bureaucracy. The can have either. The Congress can give them either. It is their Congress.

This Article was serialized in 20 segments
which appeared on the editorial page (page 4) of
The Deseret News, 19 March 1945 through 10 April 1945.

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