Diary

The Commerce Clause and the Need for a Good Dictionary

“The Commerce Clause” is one of the most talked about topics in American politics today because it is being used as the justification for healthcare “reform” and so many other intrusions of the Congress into the lives of the American people.  It is clear that this clause should be investigated within the historical and Constitutional framework that it was created.

So what is this clause and what does it mean for us?  Quite simply, the clause states that Congress shall have the power “t regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes” (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3).  The key word in the clause is obviously the verb “regulate” and while so many Constitutional lawyers have been debating the term, I wonder why more haven’t simply picked up a dictionary.  Dictionary.com gives the following meanings for the term “regulate”:

–verb (used with object),-lat·ed, -lat·ing.

1. to control or direct by a rule, principle, method, etc.: to regulate household expenses.
2. to adjust to some standard or requirement, as amount, degree, etc.: to regulate the temperature.
3. to adjust so as to ensure accuracy of operation: to regulate a watch.
4. to put in good order: to regulate the digestion.
It is the first definition that the power hungry Congressmen use to justify their agendas, but it is clear that the Founders of the Constitution – who wrote the Constitution after much debate – meant to use the other definitions that really means “to put in good order”, “to adjust so as to ensure accuracy of operations” – simply “to make regular”.  The Founders didn’t want one state to be deprived of trade with another and in essence, be deprived of the means of survival.  The Founders wanted to make sure that the Federal Government insured the proper and even treatment of the states.  To think otherwise is ignorant.  Simply look at the debate that took place at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  The delegates debated about the amount of power the Federal Government should have.  There was a deep fear about giving the Federal Government too much power and in the end, returning to the tyranny of government they fought and died to escape.
If you are still unconvinced, look at the rest of the Constitution – especially Article 1 Section 9 of the Constitution that lists limits that bind Congress.  Do you think it was just a coincidence that the Founders immediately listed limits after specifying the  rights of Congress?  Among other things, Article 1 Section 9 of the Constitution states that “No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.”  You can see here that the idea of making commerce regular – even and just between the states – is a primary concern of the Founders and is the real meaning of the Commerce Clause.
More over, it seems to me from this latest statement that the back room deals where Congressmen are bribed for the votes is clearly not Constitutional even if the Congressmen themselves are not rewarded.  This is true no matter how much they say that the process is merely politics and the way things are done.
I hope that my commentary on the subject clears up the Commerce Clause.  I find the liberal use of it by the Liberals quite funny and intriguing since many – including President Obama – have said that the Constitution is a flawed document.  It seems that there is at least one part of the Constitution that they like well enough to use it time and time again to justify their actions.  It is just a shame that their basic understanding of the Constitution is flawed – not the document itself.  Perhaps they should have just picked up a dictionary.