Maintaining a vertical separation of powers
In all matters where upon liberty is the purposed goal of a united citizenry, active vigilance must be practiced at all times to prevent governments from devouring those rights which free people embrace. Thus it was that when the United States was formed, those freedoms were kept in the forefront of its founders' hearts and minds. Thirteen colonies joined together as States, individual entities united in their desire for independent liberty, under a unifying federal government and purposed to remain as such. With that intent firmly implanted upon their souls, the founders proceeded to craft what is perhaps one of the world's most influential documents: the Constitution of the United States.
Only seventeen powers are enumerated to congress as listed under article I, section 8, clause 18, of the United States Constitution. In addition, the ninth amendment to the Constitution stipulates that "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The tenth amendment goes even further to state that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Yet some proclaim that the Constitution is a "Living Document," vague in its wording, and hence, should be interpreted according to judicial opinion. Interestingly, as David Fowler points out, the term "Living Document" was not coined until 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt "appointed eight justices to the High Court who radically accommodated their 'interpretation' of the Constitution to comport with Roosevelt's expansion of central government authority and power." Up until the Civil War and the influences of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and F.D. Roosevelt, the Constitution was the strict Rule of Law for the United States, taken literally and as its writers intended.
This proposes a conundrum to those who maintain the "Living Document" theory. If the Constitution is so vague, how were our national leaders able to apply Constitutional law prior to judicial legislation? As the website FoundingFathers.info describes, the leaders were able to find their answers via the Federalist Papers - a collection of writings that describes the intent of the Constitution's writers. Published during the years of 1787 and 1788, the Federalist Papers is a series of essays outlining the new Constitutional government: how it would operate, its limits, and why it was the best choice for the United States.
Vertical separation of powers between the States and the Federal Government was intended with only limited powers constitutionally derived for the Fed. The United States Constitution was written and amended with this concept in mind, and has been maintained throughout the years. However, that concept has been under attack since 1937 and the states are losing the battle.
Philip Damon is an English major and maintains the blog: The Troubled Patriot. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb 25, 2010
Maintaining a Verticle Separation of Powers
As published on American Thinker: