Wednesday, April 17, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case of extraordinary impact on the Constitution and the power of the federal government to control every aspect of citizens’ lives. Not surprisingly, it’s a case you’ve never heard of.
United States v. Kebodeaux is of such immeasurable importance that if the Obama administration is victorious, it will — perhaps irreversibly — accelerate the consolidation of all power in Washington, D.C. As one commentator observed, should the court decide in favor of the president, he will have “gained total power to rule the lives of US citizens from cradle to grave.”
How is this usurpation accomplished? By way of the assumption by the federal government of powers reserved to the states, specifically that spectrum of authority over the individual known as “police power.”
The Constitution as drafted and ratified by the states granted to the federal government a limited slate of powers (described by James Madison as “few and defined”), leaving the residue in the hands of the states.
Among the powers not delegated by the states to the federal government in the Constitution is the “general power of governing,” that is to say “police power.” This direct influence over the life, liberty, and property of citizens is reserved by the state governments.
There are, admittedly, a couple of exceptions. For example, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution places the military and obviously federal property within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Also, the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 expanded the scope of the federal government, including the addition of a few “police powers” formerly restricted to the states.
An example of the practical execution of this power is the array of state laws governing abortion, voting eligibility, marriage, etc. Notably, in recent years, the federal government has legislated in each of these areas.
Unfortunately, state legislatures have — perhaps unwittingly — participated in the centralization in Washington of all power. According to the facts of the creation of the Constitution and the explicit text of the 10th Amendment, states may rightfully reject any federal act that exceeds the narrow range of powers granted to it in the Constitution. However, the federal government has grown so powerful and the states proportionately have become so weak that the federal government can now unconstitutionally compel obedience to its many mandates by withholding billions in grant money and “matching funds” from insubordinate states.
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