Home > General, Political, Politics, Pre Pulse Ramblings > Madison on the Meaning of the “General Welfare,” the “Purpose” of Enumerated Powers, and the “Definition” of Constitutional Government — Sorenson 22 (2): 109 — Publius: The Journal of Federalism

Madison on the Meaning of the “General Welfare,” the “Purpose” of Enumerated Powers, and the “Definition” of Constitutional Government — Sorenson 22 (2): 109 — Publius: The Journal of Federalism


Madison on the Meaning of the “General Welfare,” the “Purpose” of Enumerated Powers, and the “Definition” of Constitutional Government — Sorenson 22 (2): 109 — Publius: The Journal of Federalism.

James Madison was “…the principle author of the Constitution…” and also 4th President of the U.S.  He was a founding father.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Madison

I have this argument about Article 1 Section 8 with liberals and legal/judicial professionals often so I decided to “montage” my point.  Provided first below is the Constitutional article itself clearly enumerating the powers of the Congress.  Next is Federalist #41 written by James Madison, the AUTHOR of the Constitution.  Madison explained each and every enumerated power in his Federalist Papers 40-42, below is paragraph #25 of of Federalist 41; here Madison makes it very, very clear what he meant in Article 1 Section 8.  He wrote:
“…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? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity,…”
 
Madison is explaining how Article 1, Section 8 is constructed:  first a thesis statement (there will be enumerated powers covering these general subjects) and then the body of the paragraph (which specifically identifies what specifically those subject powers will be; a LIST if you will).
 
Clearly, Madison is saying there that the reason why the powers were listed (i.e., “enumerated”) was because these were the ONLY powers conferred. It was not meant to be a “general welfare clause” which could be used to fund anything the Congress wanted.  Hence, it means that health care, public education, Medicare, Medicaid, social security, welfare, etc.. are ALL UNCONSTITUTIONAL PER THE THINKING OF THAT DOCUMENT’S A-U-T-H-O-R.  Unless there is a constitutional amendment adding these actions as a power, they are not valid.  We got to a general welfare clause that funds anything thanks to the decade of rule by FDR filling the court with liberals who reinterpreted (and dispenses with over 120 years of precedent jurisprudence) Article 1, Section 8 and declared exactly what Madison said the article was not.
 
But we don’t need to look at his Federalist Papers (40-42) to  explain what he meant when he penned Article 1 Section 8, we can look to his presidency as well.  As president, Madison made it clear that laws adding powers not enumerated were unconstitutional and he VETOED legislation as chief executive–often.
 
“Madison warned Congress that the General Welfare Clause of the Constitution was never intended to become a Pandora’s Box for special-interest legislation, such as taxpayer subsidies to private business” (“How Capitalism Saved America:  The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present” by Thomas DiLorenzo; pg 82).
 
Madison vetoed one such bill, Madison: “…decided it was time to teach the nation a lesson in constitutionalism…” the congress “…failed to take into account the fact that Congress had enumerated powers under section eight of the first article of the Constitution…” (Ibid; pg 82) (“The Presidency of James Madison” by Robert Allen Rutland, pg 205).
 
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