john w k wrote:
Madison's Notes on the convention of 1787 reveals that Charles Pinckney, on August 18th during the federal convention
, proposed a power to be vested in Congress "To establish seminaries for the promotion of literature and the arts and sciences",
but this proposal, as many other proposals, was rejected by the Convention, and the only power agreed upon by the Framers and Ratifiers relating to the advancement of science, was the limited power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts"
. How? "... by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
See Art.1, Sec. 8. U.S.Constitution
American Constitutional Research Service
So what? What does Charles Pinckney's alleged views on copyrights and patents have to do with governmental funding of scientific research? And, what difference does it make anyway? If you're not claiming that the Constitution prohibits Congress from funding scientific research, why are you labeling Frist as an enemy of the written constitution?
Here is what Hamilton said Federalist No. 78:
The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated.
Congress commands the purse! Are you now going to argue against Hamilton and the Federalist Papers?
But Debra my dear, I seen nothing in your quote from Hamilton which appears in Federalist Paper 78, to remotely suggest Congress is authorized to spend money from that ‘purse” on whatever objects it so desires.
Congress may use its taxing powers to provide for the Debt, the common Defense, and the general Welfare of the United States. Congress indeed commands the purse.
I guess no such indication appears because Hamilton forcefully states the following observation in Federalist 83, in reference to the general welfare clause, "...the power of Congress...shall extend to certain enumerated cases. This specification of particulars evidently excludes all pretension to a general legislative authority, because an affirmative grant of special powers would be absurd as well as useless if a general authority was intended..."
You are not only wrong, but you are misrepresenting Hamilton's words. The Federalist 83 concerns the right to trial by jury. See:
The Federalist 83
The Judiciary Continued in Relation to Trial by Jury
Author: Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton's statement was NOT in reference to the general welfare clause as you claim; his statement was in reference to legal maxims of interpretation: A specification of particulars is an exclusion of generals and the expression of one thing is the exclusion of another.
Some objected and worried that the federal government would deprive them of the right to trial by jury in civil cases if that right was not explicitly protected by the constitution. Hamilton attempted to alleviate their fears and demonstrate the "proper use and true meaning" of the legal maxims of interpretation. Hamilton said:
Having now seen that the maxims relied upon will not bear the use made of them, let us endeavor to ascertain their proper use and true meaning. This will be best done by examples. The plan of the convention declares that the power of Congress, or, in other words, of the NATIONAL LEGISLATURE, shall extend to certain enumerated cases. This specification of particulars evidently excludes all pretension to a general legislative authority, because an affirmative grant of special powers would be absurd, as well as useless, if a general authority was intended.
In like manner the judicial authority of the federal judicatures is declared by the Constitution to comprehend certain cases particularly specified. The expression of those cases marks the precise limits, beyond which the federal courts cannot extend their jurisdiction, because the objects of their cognizance being enumerated, the specification would be nugatory if it did not exclude all ideas of more extensive authority.
Accordingly, you have misrepresented that Hamilton was speaking in reference to the general welfare clause. He was NOT. He was speaking of ALL of Congress's enumerated powers--that ours is a government of limited powers. The taxing power in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1, is just ONE of those enumerated powers. And of course, the "general welfare" clause qualifies the taxing power.
If you really want to know how broadly and how liberally Hamilton viewed the taxing power, you should read the Federalist Papers 30-36 and his other writings.
Everyone agrees that our government is one of limited and enumerated powers. That's NOT the issue. The issue is whether Congress may use its taxing power for the general welfare--and Congress most certainly may. Using its taxing power for the general welfare of the nation is one of Congress's enumerated powers.
Hamilton’s words in Federalist No. 83 are also in harmony with that of Jefferson:
"Our tenet ever was, and, indeed, it is almost the only landmark that divides the Federalists from the Republicans, that Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated; and that, as it was never meant they should provided for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently that the specification of power is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money." (letter from Jefferson to Gallatin, June 16th, 1817)
No one ever said that Congress has unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare. That's not the issue. No one is saying that Congress can make any old law it wants to make because it might serve the public interest or the general welfare. However, Congress does have enumerated powers and one of those powers is Congress's taxing and spending power which may indeed be used for the general welfare.
And Madison, in No. 41 Federalist, explaining the meaning of the general welfare clause to gain the approval of the proposed constitution, states the following:
"It has been urged and echoed, that the power "to lay and collect taxes...to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the United States amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor [the anti federalists] for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction...But what color can this objection have, when a specification of the object alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not ever separated by a longer pause than a semicolon?...For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power...But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning...is an absurdity."
Likewise, in the Virginia ratification Convention Madison explains the general welfare phrase in the following manner so as to gain ratification of the constitution:
"the powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction."[3 Elliots 95] [also see Nicholas, 3 Elliot 443 regarding the general welfare clause, which he pointed out "was united, not to the general power of legislation, but to the particular power of laying and collecting taxes...."]
Likewise, George Mason, in the Virginia ratification Convention informs the convention
"The Congress should have power to provide for the general welfare of the Union, I grant. But I wish a clause in the Constitution, with respect to all powers which are not granted, that they are retained by the states. Otherwise the power of providing for the general welfare may be perverted to its destruction.".[3 Elliots 442]
For this very reason the Tenth Amendment was quickly ratified, to intentionally put to rest any question whatsoever regarding the general welfare clause and thereby cut off the pretext to allow Congress to extended its powers via the wording “promote the general welfare“ and tax and spend for whatever purpose it may desire..
But according to our resident legal analyst , Debra, Congress and the SCOTUS are free to do what they so desire, and in spite of the intent and beliefs under which our constitution was agreed upon by the people.
Our government is one of limited powers. The fact that Congress's enumerated taxing power was subject to considerable debate and dispute doesn't prove what the "general welfare" clause means; it only proves that there was NO CONSENSUS on the meaning. Accordingly, your allegation that the people collectively agreed on the meaning of the general welfare clause before the Constitution was adopted is without merit.
The fact that Congress (including Federalists and Anti-Federalists) used Congress's taxing power to collect taxes and appropriate money for the general welfare from the very beginning amply demonstrates that they believed that Congress had power over the purse to pay the national debt, to provide for the general defense, and to provide for the general welfare as set forth in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1.
Power over the purse, as qualified by the provisions in Congress's enumerated taxing power, does not mean that Congress can do what is otherwise prohibited by the Constitution.
Justice Story writes in his commentaries: "If the Constitution was ratified under the belief, sedulously propagated on all sides, that such protection was afforded, would it not now be a fraud upon the whole people to give a different construction to its powers?"
None of the people's protections or securities guaranteed by the Constitution are affected by Congress's power to tax and consequently spend for the general welfare of the nation.
Justice Story never argued that Congress did not have the power to tax and spend for the general welfare. Justice Story wrote:
'The Constitution was, from its very origin, contemplated to be the frame of a national government, of special and enumerated powers, and not of general and unlimited powers.'
'A power to lay taxes for the common defence and general welfare of the United States is not in common sense a general power. It is limited to those objects. It cannot constitutionally transcend them.'
See U.S. v. BUTLER, 297 U.S. 1 (1936).
No one is arguing with you that our government is one of limited powers. That's not the issue. Congress was specifically conferred the power to tax for the purpose of providing funds for payment of the nation's debts and making provision for the general welfare. No one has ever argued that the power to provide for the general welfare exists independently of the taxing power. So long as Congress limits its taxing and spending powers to paying our national debt, and providing for the common defense and general welfare of the nation as set forth in the Constitution, Congress is not transcending its constitutional powers.