Monday, October 29, 2007

Conservative Black Columnist Walter Williams Promotes HR 1359, The Enumerated Powers Act, Sponsored By Arizona Congressman John Shadegg

While one infamous black columnist, Leonard Pitts, continues to cry himself a river week after week over so-called "white racism" and the white backlash building in America over black-on-white marquee crimes such as the murders of Channon Christian/Chris Newsom and Emily Haddock, another more conservative black columnist, Walter Williams, continues to promote personal responsibility and a return to more constitutional government. Pictured above left, Congressman John Shadegg, originator of the Enumerated Powers Act.

In his latest column, presented today (October 29th, 2007) in the Anchorage Voice Of The Times, Walter Williams makes a pitch for the Enumerated Powers Act. This act, designated as HR 1359 during the current two-year lifespan of the 110th Congress, simply requires that any member of Congress include the constitutional authority in any piece of legislation introduced. Here is the specific language of HR 1359, which can also be viewed from two sources, Govtrack and Thomas (Library of Congress):


1st Session

H. R. 1359
To require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws, and for other purposes.


March 6, 2007
Mr. SHADEGG (for himself, Mr. WESTMORELAND, Mr. MILLER of Florida, Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey, Mr. LAMBORN, Mr. GINGREY, Mr. FLAKE, Mr. GOHMERT, Mr. MARCHANT, Ms. FOXX, Mr. BARTLETT of Maryland, Mr. BURTON of Indiana, Mr. HERGER, Mr. AKIN, Mr. CONAWAY, Mr. BISHOP of New York, Mr. PAUL, Mr. MCCOTTER, and Mrs. MYRICK) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Rules, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

To require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Enumerated Powers Act'.


(a) Constitutional Authority for This Act- This Act is enacted pursuant to the power granted Congress under article I, section 8, clause 18, of the United States Constitution and the power granted to each House of Congress under article I, section 5, clause 2, of the United States Constitution.

(b) Constitutional Authority Statement Required- Chapter 2 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 102 the following new section:

`Sec. 102a. Constitutional authority clause

`Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise and definite statement of the constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act. The failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in either House of Congress. The availability of this point of order does not affect any other available relief.'

(c) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 2 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 102 the following new item:

`102a. Constitutional authority clause.'.

As of post time, this bill has 29 co-sponsors, who are listed at the end of this post. Note that one of the sponsors is current Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul.

This bill has been introduced into the U.S. House by Arizona's Third District Congressman John Shadegg at the beginning of every two-year session since 1995. Each time it is introduced, it receives a new designation. It has also ended up buried in committee each time and allowed to die. It is currently in the House Judiciary Committee and the House Rules Committee.

According to Wikipedia, debate over the Enumerated Powers Act tends to revolve around two separate interpretational clauses about legislative powers. Strict constructionists use the "Necessary-And-Proper Clause as a justification for HR 1359. Strict constructionists interpret this clause to mean that Congress may make a law only if the inability to do so would cripple its ability to apply one of its enumerated powers. Their strict interpretation of the Tenth Amendment, which reads, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people", is cited as constitutional ground denying Congress the right to pass any law it sees fit.

However, opponents of HR 1359, or "loose constructionists", believe that a more "elastic clause" expands the authority of Congress to all areas tangentially related to one of its enumerated powers. It is often known as the "elastic clause" because of the great amount of leeway in interpretation it allows; depending on the interpretation, it can be "stretched" to expand the powers of Congress, or allowed to "contract", limiting Congress. In practical usage, the elastic clause has been paired with the commerce clause in particular to provide the constitutional basis for a wide variety of expansive federal laws. The Commerce Clause has been cited by Congress as its authority to pass laws in realms of human behavior not mentioned in the Constitution. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has nearly always upheld this argument, and has taken a broad view of what activities might affect interstate commerce. An example frequently used to illustrate this point is the Wickard v. Filburn (1942) case, in which growing wheat on one's own land for one's own consumption was ruled to affect interstate commerce.

In his column today, Walter Williams cites statements by two of our country's founders as support for the vision expressed in the Enumerated Powers Act. James Madison, in explaining the Constitution in Federalist Paper No. 45, said, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce."

James Madison also said, "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."

Thomas Jefferson took a similar approach. Regarding the "general welfare" clause so often used as a justification for bigger government, Jefferson said, "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated."

Here's the list of 29 co-sponsors, current as of October 20th, 2007. All Republicans - not a single Democrat amongst them. Conspicuous by his absence, Alaska Congressman Don Young. Surprisingly, Tom Tancredo (R-CO) is not on this list. This list represents the hard-core constitutional conservative caucus within the Republican Party:

Rep. Todd Akin [R-MO]
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett [R-MD]
Rep. Rob Bishop [R-UT]
Rep. John Boozman [R-AR]
Rep. Dan Burton [R-IN]
Rep. Michael Conaway [R-TX]
Rep. David Davis [R-TN]
Rep. John Duncan [R-TN]
Rep. Tom Feeney [R-FL]
Rep. Jeff Flake [R-AZ]
Rep. Virginia Foxx [R-NC]
Rep. Trent Franks [R-AZ]
Rep. Scott Garrett [R-NJ]
Rep. John Gingrey [R-GA]
Rep. Louis Gohmert [R-TX]
Rep. Robert Goodlatte [R-VA]
Rep. Dean Heller [R-NV]
Rep. Walter Herger [R-CA]
Rep. Doug Lamborn [R-CO]
Rep. Kenny Marchant [R-TX]
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter [R-MI]
Rep. Jeff Miller [R-FL]
Rep. Sue Myrick [R-NC]
Rep. Ronald Paul [R-TX] (Republican Presidential candidate)
Rep. Ted Poe [R-TX]
Rep. Clifford Stearns [R-FL]
Rep. Timothy Walberg [R-MI]
Rep. David Weldon [R-FL]
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland [R-GA]

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