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Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 12/30/2010

What the tea party wants from the Constitution

By Ezra Klein

constitution1.JPG

I'm very curious to know what the GOP -- or the tea partyers they're presumably pandering to -- think will happen when every piece of legislation requires "a statement from its sponsor outlining where in the Constitution Congress is empowered to enact such legislation." What's the evidence that this will make legislation more, rather than less, constitutional, for whatever your definition of the Constitution is?

Let's take an example: Most legislation doesn't currently include a statement of constitutional authority. But there's one recent measure that did: Section 1501 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That is to say, the individual mandate.

"The individual responsibility requirement provided for in this section (in this subsection referred to as the requirement) is commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce," reads the opening paragraph. Shortly thereafter, the legislation makes itself more explicit: "In United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association (322 U.S. 533 (1944)), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that insurance is interstate commerce subject to Federal regulation."

Has that statement convinced the GOP that the individual mandate is constitutional? Of course not. Currently, two judges have ruled in favor of the provision and one judge has ruled against. The split has been clean across partisan lines. The political verdicts have been little different: Sen. Chuck Grassley went from co-sponsoring an individual mandate in June of 2009 when it was still an idea connected to Republicans to condemning it as unconstitutional a few months later when it was clear that President Obama owned it and no Republicans would be joining his health-care bill.

My friends on the right don't like to hear this, but the Constitution is not a clear document. Written more than 200 years ago, when America had 13 states and very different problems, it rarely speaks directly to the questions we ask it. The Second Amendment, for instance, says nothing about keeping a gun in the home if you've not signed up with a "well-regulated militia," but interpreting the Second Amendment broadly has been important to those who want to bear arms. And so they've done it.

That's their right, of course. Liberals pick and choose their moments of textual fidelity as well. But as the seemingly endless series of 5-4 splits on the Supreme Court shows, even the country's most experienced and decorated constitutional authorities routinely disagree, and sharply, over what the text means when applied to today's problems. To presume that people writing what they think the Constitution means -- or, in some cases, want to think it means -- at the bottom of every bill will change how they legislate doesn't demonstrate a reverence for the document. It demonstrates a disengagement with it as anything more than a symbol of what you and your ideological allies believe.

In reality, the tea party -- like most everyone else -- is less interested in living by the Constitution than in deciding what it means to live by the Constitution. When the constitutional disclaimers at the bottom of bills suit them, they'll respect them. When they don't -- as we've seen in the case of the individual mandate -- they won't.

Photo credit: Todd Gipstein/National Geographic/Getty Images.

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 11:55 AM ET
 
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Comments

Very good points, although the Constitution wasn't written in 1910.

Posted by: JeffN1 | December 30, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

The fact is, Tea Baggers wouldn't need "a statement from its sponsor outlining where in the Constitution Congress is empowered to enact such legislation" if the Tea Baggers would just go ahead and READ the U.S. Constitution themselves.

The only reason I can see why Tea Bagger would even think of making any such statement is because they have no idea what the U.S. Constitution actually says.

The U.S. Constitution empowers the U.S. Congress to do all they are doing, and no one in their right mind questions that fact.


Posted by: lindalovejones | December 30, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein completely misses the point w.r.t.this effort. Indeed the health care act tried to constitutionally justify itself, and upon reading said justification, the GOP concluded, correctly, that the it didn't pass constituional muster. That is the exact point of including something as described above, to take a moment and consider whether the constitution gives congress the power that they are attempting to use in a bill. Perhaps for this particular bill this debate would have been raging anyway, (then again perhaps not; maybe upon reading said lame justification, it was obvious to many that this bill needed to be changed), but future bills will have to pass through the same debate.

Posted by: octopi213 | December 30, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, the Tea Party is a puritanical political movement, much like fundamentalist christians are to religion. "Strict adherence" are the words you commonly hear from both groups. Whenever I hear those words I always run in the opposite direction. Many people I have talked with, who consider themselves "Tea Party members," are unclear as to the specific motives in the group. They seem to all want low taxes, less apparent government involvement and more religious affiliation. However, they also want those juicy government servics we all like, such as Medicare and Social Security, etc. I consider those opposing positions. I don't beleive strict adherence to the Constitution will resolve their conflict.

Posted by: gfoster56 | December 30, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The constitution and bill of rights are supposed to be a shield protecting individualism yet providing necessary public services.

Liberals want it to be their little blanket paid for by others regardless the intrusion.

Posted by: Cryos | December 30, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Your blasphemy that the Constitution isn't the unerring word of our founders and judges' decisions should be interpreted in light of their partisan record is like Krugman's blasphemy that Republicans simply aren't serious about the deficit and their magic asterisks should be scrutinized with skepticism.

They're both refreshing to hear in a journalism environment that fails to report anything beyond talking points.

Posted by: will12 | December 30, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

". However, they also want those juicy government servics we all like, such as Medicare and Social Security, etc."

No, not really.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 30, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

What they want is for themselves to scream about the Constitution whenever it benefits them and to talk about changing it whenever it hurts them

We have seen it during the last 2 years

Someone does something and the Tea Party cries about how that is NOT in the Constitution.

Someone does something and the Tea Party cries about how the Constitution should be CHANGED

Huh?

Posted by: Bious | December 30, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

This article was nothing more than a personal option from Ezra Klein. This is not news reporting - I hope other writers of the Washington Post are not so cynical.

Posted by: Arcticreader | December 30, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Just put this at the top of every bill:

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States."

Posted by: zackpunk | December 30, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

What they want is for themselves to scream about the Constitution whenever it benefits them and to talk about changing it whenever it hurts them

We have seen it during the last 2 years

Someone does something and the Tea Party cries about how that is NOT in the Constitution.

Someone does something and the Tea Party cries about how the Constitution should be CHANGED

Huh?

Posted by: Bious | December 30, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the Judicial Branch empowered with interpreting the constitutionality of laws? Wouldn't Congress's assumption of this power be, in itself, unconstitutional?

Posted by: lkslongboarder | December 30, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"The U.S. Constitution empowers the U.S. Congress to do all they are doing, and no one in their right mind questions that fact."

you must not read much legal scholarship, or not be attuned to even left of center ideas of constitutional fidelity, translation, and federalism. [see, e.g., the morrison/raich tension and llessig's work]. at a min, there are significant concerns.

moreover, just because an article III institution isn't able to articulate a workable standard whereby an art. I (congressional) action is constitutionally inapposite, this doesn't mean that art. I actors don't have a separate duty (and ability) to adjudge the constitutionality. such a view was pretty much mainstream at the founding, and has only recently been abandoned (see, e.g., TJ's unnerving decision in the LA purchase).

indeed, this art. I focus is the thrust of new provisions, and I'm amazed to find it controversial.

we need to grow up.

Posted by: stantheman21 | December 30, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

You said, "In reality, the tea party -- like most everyone else -- is less interested in living by the Constitution than in deciding what it means to live by the Constitution." I think you miss the necessary point that the Constitution must be interpreted to be applied.

Obviously, the Founders did not put in the document all the complexities that we face (and have faced in the 2 centuries since its creation) adn their answers to it. I saw your convertsation on MSNBC this morning and it struck me that much of the government that we bemoan and enjoy is not directly called for in the Constitution.

For example, the idea of a Federal Reserve central bank was not developed until the dawn of the 20th century...yet I doubt that we would revert back to states coining money themselves!

Your point about how the interpretative hermeneutic changes with political and partisan expediency is well taken. Perhaps the issue is that we, both sides, have really departed from the Founders' vision/purpose/view and both fear what would happen if Americans as a whole took one position (strict construction or dynamic equivalence)....

Posted by: Andrew_Irmo | December 30, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, Ezra! The Tea Party is quite confused about the Constitution and think one can play with it based upon their preference for States' rights over one's federal citizenship status. For those less informed, look at this:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/09/07/acosta.tea.party.constitution/index.html

There are many other examples of this in articles about the Tea Party president speaking about repealing constitutional amendments. Apparently there's been talk about limiting judicial terms of office so judges can be 'voted' for by citizens instead of appointed by elected officials.

Hmmm, if the Constitution is the guiding light of judges, it shouldn't matter what party they belong to in reaching verdicts and reviewing lower court decisions. Would voters study their court records or align under party preferences?

The Tea Party wants to weaken the Federal Government and must remove federal programs like the SSA to do so. Every time medicare and medicaid funds cross state lines, medical care becomes a function of interstate commerce that Congress can regulate.

Barbara Rubin
www.armchairactivist.us

Posted by: agasaya1 | December 30, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

First, lets start calling the mandate what it really is, The Free-Rider Prevention Rule. Even conservative Avik Roy (see Ezra's Dec. 27 post), admits that is the purpose of the provision. One weak argument he makes against the rule is that free-riders' free ride is only about one-fourth the average per capita spending on health care. This point might warrant a debate on the size of the penalty for not complying with the rule that we all need insurance, but in fact strengthens the case that such a requirement is, as the Constitution the Tea Party professes to love says, necessary and proper.

Posted by: Demfacts | December 30, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that it could make a difference in some narrow situations. I seem to recall several Supreme Court cases that decided that a certain statute was constitutional, but not under the authority originally argued. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the case(s), but I thought it was something like, "this case does is not constitutional under the Necessary and Proper Clause, but it is constitutional under the Commerce Clause."

If the law itself set forth the authority, would that preclude this kind of judicial bait and switch?

Posted by: Lindy4 | December 30, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

The first thing the "tea partiers" need to do is read the Constitution. They need to read Article I, Section 8 (the powers of Congress). Then they need to understand each and every clause, especially Art. I, Section 8, Paragraph 14 (Necessary and Proper Clause). Then they can open their mouths and talk. Not before.

Posted by: diamond2 | December 30, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Natural Law: Look it up, Ezra. After that, we can have a enlightened discussion.

If you have no idea where to start looking, you might want to start with this video clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TSiJ2Gp058&feature=player_embedded

Posted by: RightKlik1 | December 30, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

This is a lot like the contention of these same people that they believe in the "literal truth" of their holy book, the Bible. There seems to be something about claiming that they're following some sacred instruction book that makes them think that they're better than somebody else. Of course, most of them have never read the Bible, or the Constitution (or any other book). What they imagine to be in these things is whatever they want to believe.

Posted by: DaveHarris | December 30, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"The Second Amendment.... but interpreting the Second Amendment broadly has been important to those who want to bear arms. And so they've done it."

You mean like when Congress tries to use the "General Welfare" clause to do what ever they please with our money?

No "broad interpretation" there!

Posted by: blckrain | December 30, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

These Constitution Thumpers are merely the modern version of Bible Thumpers. They neither study nor live by the book that they thump.

Posted by: Provincial | December 30, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

lkslongboarder: Actually, no. Judicial review was established by the Marshall Court fairly early on, but it appears nowhere in the Constitution. This further illustrates the idiocy of the TP/Bachmann "Congress is only allowed to do things that are *explicitly* stated in the Constitution" position.

Judicial review came to be accepted as a good way to fill the gap that the Constitution specified no method of enforcement for its constraints. It's pretty amazing how much the Founders got right, but they were creating this form of government largely from scratch, and it's not surprising that there were also plenty of things they didn't foresee.

Posted by: jimeh | December 30, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein: Your sophistry about the 2nd Amendment is amazing. If you can't "keep and bear arms" in your own house, where can you? If the "people" in the 2nd Amendment aren't the same "people" as in the 1st Amendment, just who are they? What should James Madison and the other Founding Fathers have done? Write a 2nd amendment of 10,000 words??

And BTW, a "well-regulated militia" is in the subordinate clause. Thus, membership in a militia is a requirement to have the right of self-defense.

Frankly, I don't think you're even trying to square your "progressive" desire for the federal government to control almost every aspect of our lives (with the exception of abortion, of course) with the limited powers granted the federal government by the Constitution.

Posted by: ElmerStoup | December 30, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I need a lot less than 3,000 characters to make a simple point Mr. Klein. You are an idiot. Period, end of sentence.

There is a myriad of "ancient documents" well over a hundred or 223 years old which are clearly understood. Your problem is you and your ilk don't like what the Constitution says. But don't worry, you are in good company. As I continue to research this matter, it is astonishing to find that there are judicial rulings going back to at least the early 1800's that start to shred the meanings clearly stated in that document.

Moreover, how dumb do you have to be to say the Constitution is not legally binding when all laws are supposed to derive in a logical and consistent manner from the Constitution? It is a really lame form of hypnosis. You think you know what you are talking about and sure don't.

Now, fortunately, enough people have begun to wake up such that a real public discourse can begin.

Posted by: metaqubit | December 30, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

When the constitutional disclaimers at the bottom of bills suit them, they'll respect them. When they don't -- as we've seen in the case of the individual mandate -- they won't....
===================================
Duh!

I don't know if the term "Tea Party" come into existence before or "Hypocrisy." My guess is "Tea Party" predates "Hypocrisy."

The Hillbillies, Hicks and Rubes that voted for the Nutcase Wackadoodles, "Pox on Thee for Screwing the Nation."

Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein completely misses the point w.r.t.this effort. Indeed the health care act tried to constitutionally justify itself, and upon reading said justification, the GOP concluded, correctly, that the it didn't pass constituional muster. That is the exact point of including something as described above, to take a moment and consider whether the constitution gives congress the power that they are attempting to use in a bill. Perhaps for this particular bill this debate would have been raging anyway, (then again perhaps not; maybe upon reading said lame justification, it was obvious to many that this bill needed to be changed), but future bills will have to pass through the same debate.

Posted by: octopi213
____________________
no, the point is that whether the mandate had made this statement or not, or if this rule had been adopted at the time and the disclaimer read just like this, the political debate over the constitutionality would have been the same, with opponents on one side and proponents on the other - nothing would change.

The constitutionality of pending legislation can be raised by anyone at any time, and frequently is, and is part of the debate on any bill where it is raised as a serious question.

the proposed rule accomplishes exactly nothing

Posted by: JoeT1 | December 30, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Congrats on your Breitbart & Drudge links today Ezra! Enjoy the snowball effect of some crazy comments coming your way ...

Posted by: kromerm | December 30, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"The Second Amendment, for instance, says nothing about keeping a gun in the home if you've not signed up with a "well-regulated militia," but interpreting the Second Amendment broadly has been important to those who want to bear arms. And so they've done it."

Are you kidding me?

When I read this:

"A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

I see two parts:

Why the right is important (the well regulated militia being essential to the free state) and the right itself (right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed).

The whole point of including a right to bear arms was so that people could protect their liberties against tyranny, both foreign and domestic.

Posted by: justin84 | December 30, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Early in the 20th Century, Chief Justice Edward Douglas White of the U.S. Supreme Court once said, "There is great danger it seems to me to arise from the constant habit which prevails where anything is opposed or objected to, of referring, without rhyme or reason, to the constitution as a means of preventing its accomplishment, thus creating the general impression that the constitution is but a barrier to progress instead of being the broad highway through which alone true progbress may be enjoyed."

Posted by: chris65 | December 30, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

@metaqubit

"You think you know what you are talking about and sure don't."

Bach atcha.

Posted by: Amminadab | December 30, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Oops. Left out the "not" in the second sentence of the second paragraph of my post at 2:00 PM.

The sentence should read: Thus, membership in a militia is not a requirement to have the right of self-defense.

And, metaqubit, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by: ElmerStoup | December 30, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Most of my friends in law say that constitutional judgements are the worst to read, because so much of them are based on personal bias.

Posted by: NeonBlueStocking | December 30, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Where in the Constitution does it say that a bill must have a statement of Constitutional Authority?

So let the bill proponent randomly select an article as the basis for the bill. Who is going to decide whether it meets the test or not?

Ah....the party with the majority.

I can't decide if I should go to watch the Ringling Brothers Circus or attend the Ding-a-Ling proceedings in the House.

Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein completely misses the point w.r.t.this effort. Indeed the health care act tried to constitutionally justify itself, and upon reading said justification, the GOP concluded, correctly, that the it didn't pass constituional muster. That is the exact point of including something as described above, to take a moment and consider whether the constitution gives congress the power that they are attempting to use in a bill. Perhaps for this particular bill this debate would have been raging anyway, (then again perhaps not; maybe upon reading said lame justification, it was obvious to many that this bill needed to be changed), but future bills will have to pass through the same debate.

Posted by: octopi213
____________________
no, the point is that whether the mandate had made this statement or not, or if this rule had been adopted at the time and the disclaimer read just like this, the political debate over the constitutionality would have been the same, with opponents on one side and proponents on the other - nothing would change.

The constitutionality of pending legislation can be raised by anyone at any time, and frequently is, and is part of the debate on any bill where it is raised as a serious question.

the proposed rule accomplishes exactly nothing

Posted by: JoeT1

You clearly did not understand my point. I said perhaps for THIS PARTICULAR BILL the debate would exist anyway, there is no way to be certain. However for future bills, it forces the proponents to at least attempt to justify the powers they are trying to give to congress. I also speculated that perhaps because this bill included a woeful attempt to justify it's reach, it made it that more obvious to those reading it that the argument was poor and not justified by the constitution. There is no way we will know for sure, since this provision was included in this bill.

Posted by: octopi213 | December 30, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I need a lot less than 3,000 characters to make a simple point Mr. Klein. You are an idiot. Period, end of sentence.

There is a myriad of "ancient documents" well over a hundred or 223 years old which are clearly understood. Your problem is you and your ilk don't like what the Constitution says. But don't worry, you are in good company. As I continue to research this matter, it is astonishing to find that there are judicial rulings going back to at least the early 1800's that start to shred the meanings clearly stated in that document.

Moreover, how dumb do you have to be to say the Constitution is not legally binding when all laws are supposed to derive in a logical and consistent manner from the Constitution? It is a really lame form of hypnosis. You think you know what you are talking about and sure don't.

Now, fortunately, enough people have begun to wake up such that a real public discourse can begin.

Posted by: metaqubit | December 30, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

This article is an April Fool's joke, right?

Posted by: Quenn | December 30, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Ezra. I see one thing that needs to happen for you to become a competent political pundent. That is...learn history. First the personal mandate for healthcare. Yes insurance is commerce. But no one has ever been "forced" to take part in commerce they did not want to participate in. Others point to auto insurance. But no one is forced to buy an auto. Yet. But give Congress the power to "compel" commerce simply due to the fact that you are alive...who knows where that could lead. Next you aproach the second amendment with the idea you must be "signed up" in a militia. My young friend, you are the militia! Again, history shows us that the "militia" is the exact reason the Japanese never launched an infantry attack on the US in WWII. And that is from their words. Finally, words mean things. While the country is much larger that it was 200+ years ago, to say that the problems we face are different from those the founders faced, is to ignore the great beauty of the document. All our "problems" are the result of human nature. That has not and will not change. It has been said that politics is the science of you and I getting along. Technology has presented us with boundless opportunity. But the basic "problem" of what we do with it again comes down to human nature. Do we allow the rich to walk upon the rights of the poor. Do we allow a corporation (a grouping of people) to destroy the property and rights of others to their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness?
No, the problems facing us as a nation have not changed. And if they ever should, the founders made provision to change that insightful, guiding document, our Constitution. And while I currently disagree with much of your slant on things. I am sure you will mature into a level headed adult. And by the way Ezra. Your generation did not invent kinky sex. Nor did I type political twice in the first sentence.

Posted by: TStewart2 | December 30, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the 2nd Amendment is extremely clear.

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The actionable part of that statement is "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." If we need to re-write it for geniuses like Ezra, we could say "you can't restrict gun ownership". What's so murky about that?

The confusion stems from court cases. The Constitution itself is one of the clearest, most forward-thinking documents ever written.

Posted by: lug21 | December 30, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

If a bill introduced by Democrats clearly falls within the Constitutional guidelines......


.......Must the Tea Party then vote in favor of the bill? Or use their personal bias and vote against it?

Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

ezra and others please understand this, the Bill of Rights in the Constitution does not grants any rights. It does not give people the right to free speech, gun ownership, due process and other rights. Amazing that someone from the 'Tea Party' admits this. However, what it does say, that people have all the rights granted by their creator and the Gov't has no authority to take them away ("shall make no law"). See, our rights are not granted by our gov't because if they did, then they would have the authority to take them away.

Our Constitution is all about limiting their authority not granting. If it was about power of the federal gov't then it would clearly state, the gov't has the authority to create any law that would restrict ones Rights.

This is the main difference between our Bill of Rights and the Union Nation's Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR). The UNDHR states that people have Rights unless resticted by law. So the UN believes that a country's gov't easily limits peoples rights by just making a Law.

Their is a movement that want impose a second and third generation of Human Rights. Basically, these are things that people should given or entitle to. I.E. clean drink water, fair wages, and food. But these are not Rights but a redistubution that gives gov't to take from one and give to another. Or how I see it, taking the property rights of one and giving that property to another. That is far form a Human Right.

I just see that some the left and some on the right wants to ignore the our Rights because it limit the power and control over our property. I mean, they don’t let any crisis go to waste.

Posted by: dmambrose | December 30, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

In any case, the Constitution per se really isn't important. If there was a constitutional amendment specifically permitting (for example) the mandate, then the Constitution should either be amended or discarded in favor of a new document.

The Constitution is referred to by the tea party because it provides for a limited government when the Democrats are trying to expand government. I will admit that even a strict reading of it provides too much power to the federal (and state) governments. I will also admit that many tea partiers feel free to ignore the constitution when their preferred party is in power (which is why there was no tea party under Bush).

The Constitution is a good but imperfect document. When choosing between appealing to liberty or to the text of the Constitution, I choose liberty every time.

People should be free to live their lives as they see fit, as long as they respect the lives, liberties and properties of their fellows. Full stop.

Posted by: justin84 | December 30, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse


Ezra, If one wants to know the Founders' intent on a provision of the Constitution then all one has to do is read the Founders' writings, speeeches to Congress, etc.

Here, for instance, puts to rest a lot of the Left's misinterpretation of the General Welfare clause:

"James Madison referring to a bill to subsidize Cod fisherman said to the First Congress:

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers to every State, county and parish and pay them out of the public treasure; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, everything from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress…..Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundation and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America."

I have had to post Madisons' quote a lot lately.

Also, someone asserted that if the Federal Reserve didn't print money would we want the States to start doing it. In accordance with Article I, Section 8, that authority would revert back to Congress not the States.


Posted by: janet8 | December 30, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

".... Yes insurance is commerce. But no one has ever been "forced" to take part in commerce they did not want to participate in...."

Posted by: TStewart2 | December 30, 2010 2:31 PM
======================================
Why can't I drive on the road I paid to have built and maintained without being compelled to buy the insurance?

And no one is forcing anyone to "live" either. As a matter of fact, there is no mandate to buy the health care insurance. You have choices to pay a fine, leave the country, hide, go to jail, etc.

Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"But no one has ever been "forced" to take part in commerce they did not want to participate in."

Apparently back in the 1790s, Congress tried to force all able bodied young men to buy guns and ammo. Not sure on what constitutional grounds it was justified on (though of course this was just as bad as today's insurance mandate).

See the section on "Militia in the decades following ratification".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Posted by: justin84 | December 30, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"Early in the 20th Century, Chief Justice Edward Douglas White of the U.S. Supreme Court once said, 'There is great danger it seems to me to arise from the constant habit which prevails where anything is opposed or objected to, of referring, without rhyme or reason, to the constitution as a means of preventing its accomplishment, thus creating the general impression that the constitution is but a barrier to progress instead of being the broad highway through which alone true progbress [sic] may be enjoyed.'"
--------------------------------------
chris 65: Did you realize that Justice White voted to enshrine segregation in the 1896 case, Plessy v. Ferguson?

Personally, I like Justice Harlan's dissent which said that the plain words of the 14th Amendment forbad the "badges of servitude" which the "separate but equal doctrine" imposed on blacks. In other words, Justice White and his brethren, save John Harlan, found a "penumbra" to justify their racist notions of proper public policy.

I guess liberals want justices who make stuff up as they go along because liberals think they'll always get to pick the justices, but it doesn't always work out that way.

Posted by: ElmerStoup | December 30, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

As others have noted: Ezra Klein is credentialed, not educated. Critical thinking isn't one of his capabilities.

Posted by: FeedTheHogs | December 30, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

dmambrose: Excellent post.

Also, as a footnote, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" was taken from John Locke's ideas of natural rights as "Life, Liberty and Property."

If our founders had wanted a re-distribution of wealth they would not have changed the word "Property" to "Pursuit of Happiness."

Which means America gives people the "opportunity" to create their own wealth.

Posted by: janet8 | December 30, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Under exactly which rock does the WaPo find these ignorant buffoons posing as journalists. U. S. v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association is irrelevant to the ObamaCare debate as it is totally silent on federally-coerced economic activity. Doesn't mean squat or add to the discussion of forcing individuals to purchase health insurance. On the other hand, U.S. v. Emerson (270 F.3d 203 (2001) explicitly upheld the right of individuals to keep and bear arms "REGARDLESS of whether the particular individual is then actually a member of a militia." It would appear young Ezra is about as sharp as a bag of wet mice (no offense intended to mice).

Posted by: jpost1 | December 30, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

God, wingnuts are idiots. Just look at these comments.

And wingnuts are 100% irony impaired.

They LOVE the Constitution, except the parts they want repealed.

Morans.

Posted by: BirchMan | December 30, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Given that you just admitted to not understanding what the United States Constitution means (http://www.breitbart.tv/liberal-star-blogger-ezra-klein-constitution-has-no-binding-power-on-anything-confusing-because-its-over-100-years-old/), I do not believe you are qualified to post any arguments referencing this document. By what means test does the Washington Post hire journalists?

Posted by: johnpublic1 | December 30, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

This article is an April Fool's joke, right?

Posted by: Quenn | December 30, 2010 2:25 PM
=======================================
We may think it is a Joke, the Fools are serious about it! Anything ritualistic, they just go Apes and Bananas!

Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I believe in the Freedom of the Press, Ezra. Furthermore, I believe that I should get the Washington Post for free because it is my Right. Since I can not really afford your paper, either the Post loses money on my free subscription, charge my neighbor twice the going rate for his subscription or you work for free.

Posted by: dmambrose | December 30, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

...By what means test does the Washington Post hire journalists?

Posted by: johnpublic1 | December 30, 2010 3:06 PM
=================================
The Constitution.

Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

God, wingnuts are idiots. Just look at these comments.

And wingnuts are 100% irony impaired.

They LOVE the Constitution, except the parts they want repealed.

Morans.

Posted by: BirchMan | December 30, 2010 3:05 PM
====================================
So much redundancy!

Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

When does the Ship of Fools arrive in DC?

Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

In all honesty I think you've hit the nail on the head. Most people have no clue what The Constitution actually says. Tea Partiers are just a symbolic bunch. Republicans will read it into the congressional record on January 6th and that will be enough to pander to that bunch.

http://www.doubledutchpolitics.com/2010/12/republicans-to-read-the-constitution-aloud-at-beginning-of-112th-congress/

Posted by: RyanC1384 | December 30, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

obviously, sucks to be ezra klein and his ilk of terrorist enablers in the America of Reagan

Posted by: M_Algore | December 30, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that the constitutionality of each bill is considered by Congress' legal counsel during the drafting process. I spent 8 years as legislative counsel at the state level, and frequently had to counsel legislators about the unconsitutionality of what they were proposing. It was my version of informed consent, as I also emphasized that passing such legislation would subject the state to the costs of defending lawsuits that challenged the law. That cost factor was often sufficient to cause a legislator to withdraw a bill request (especially if they were concerned about how that might play out in the press), although a few legislators pressed forward anyway, because they wanted to make a point as a matter of principle (and they knew the bills would not even be considered in committee, anyway). Sometimes these consultations even changed the content of the bill for the better, however.

So, as a practical matter, what the new rule does is formalize this process in the form of a written statement that will be available to everyone, not just delivered in a private consultation with the bill sponsor. It does sound, however, that if legal counsel concludes something is not authorized by the Constitution, they couldn't issue such a statement, which would theoretically prevent a bill from being filed. What's going to happen the first time legal counsel reaches this conclusion with one of the GOP's bills? Behind the scenes tension between legislators and lawyers, which isn't really a good thing.

What concerns me is (1) whether it will increase the research burden on the lawyers, who will need to cite case law to support their conclusion each time, and (2) whether it will increase the pressure on the lawyers to produce a certain result. In my state (as in many others), the lawyers responsible for bill drafting were non-partisan. I would not have wanted this kind of formal requirement, or potential pressure and meddling on a partisan basis trying to influence a particular outcome. Ethically, that would have been untenable, as a government attorney's duty is to serve the public interest, not the party in power.

But this rule seems more about posturing than practical matters, anyway.

Posted by: reach4astar2 | December 30, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Fairish piece. And I mean that as a genuine compliment.

Posted by: Itzajob | December 30, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I think the late Robert Byrd put it best when he said that "everything in the Constitution is structural, or procedural". It sets up the machinery of government. It is up to us to decide what to do with the machine.

Posted by: Capn0ok | December 30, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, from this naive column and many of the comments following it, the left is still trying to figure out why and how they were hit with a train going 200 mph in November.

Many on the left will never understand. It's not in their character or nature to even conceive of a founding document that lays out both figuratively and literally the limitations on federal power, and the powers reserved for the states. This is why young Mr. Klein said on a TV interview today that the Constitution "has no binding power on anything," and it is confusing, because it is "more than 100 years old." One gets the impression from reading Mr. Klein's work that he is confused about a lot of things.

An emphasis on the basic framework of the Constitution is a huge roadblock for those who believe that the Congress can pass any law it wants, the courts --- if stacked with sufficient lefty judges --- will "interpret" the Constitution to find all kinds of rights and justification that were never written into the document, and the Executive can simply implement laws by Executive Order if it can't get the Congress and the courts to produce.

The train hit the soft middle of liberal philosophy in November. I expect that another train is headed down the tracks in 2012. Perhaps by then, at least some of the socialists and progressives at the WaPo will figure out who is driving the train and why. I doubt our little boy Ezra will; he'll need ten or twenty more years of life in the real world before he understands what life is all about.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | December 30, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Holy cow did it get crazy in here. A bunch of people who read a book with some legal information, spouting off about the Constitution like they have even the slightest idea what a "subordinate clause" actually is.

Most of you need to leave the legal thinking to the experts, and go back to looking for Obama's "real" birth certificate.

Posted by: samslaw25 | December 30, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Hey Klien, how old are you boy? Shouldn't you be writing about the latest Super Mario video game?

Posted by: luisramos21237 | December 30, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"Mr. Klein completely misses the point w.r.t.this effort. Indeed the health care act tried to constitutionally justify itself, and upon reading said justification, the GOP concluded, correctly, that the it didn't pass constituional muster," writes octopi.
------------
No, YOU miss the exact point Klein is making, and by doing so, make his point for him. When you say that the "GOP concluded, correctly" that is your opinion. You may think it's an objective fact, but sorry, it ain't.

Posted by: monk4hall | December 30, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

How is it possible for an American citizen to be so completely clueless about the single most important aspect of our country's very existence? Ezra Klein is a perfect example of liberal ignorance. If you put a million Ezra Klein's in a room with one million typewriters for one million years you will not get any Shakespeare. It is funny how liberals eschew the very principals that this country were founded upon.

Posted by: abortdemocrats | December 30, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Silly me. I thought it was up to the Judicial Branch to decide on the constitutionality of legislation.

Posted by: wireman65 | December 30, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

When the constitutional disclaimers at the bottom of bills suit them, they'll respect them. When they don't -- as we've seen in the case of the individual mandate -- they won't.

~~~

That has always been the case of Conservative Right-Wingers, Ezra Klein.

They and only they, believe that the Constitution was written for them, by them, and only for them; and that they are the only ones who have the authority to interpret it to fit inside of their little warped minds, revise it to fit inside of their little warped minds, and repeal certain parts of it to fit inside of their little warped minds.

So, now in order to fully get the Constitution to fit inside their little warped minds some more, they want to read it and discuss it on the House floor, before any and every little piece of legislation is written.

What childish immature Cretins these Conservatives are.

I am just calling it like I see it.

No more, No less.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | December 30, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

What a joke. It shows, yet again, the ignorance of the tea party -- and the hollowness of their grandstanding and pandering. That they're wasting their time on empty gestures like this shows that not only do they have any new answers, they don't have any answers. The joke, unfortunately, is on the American people who have to deal with these nutcases.

Posted by: monk4hall | December 30, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

If the teabaggers want to roll back the last 100+ yrs they should not use the internet which was invented by the Pentagon in the late 60's.

They should also not avail themselves to every modern health advancement (NIH) or Salk Polio vaccine or modern drugs approved by the FDA.

Refuse to eat USDA inspected meat and other food products.

Refuse to travel on interstates use railways or use regulated utilities.

Refuse to use VA care or benefits in the GI Bill.

Let their kids work in unsafe sweatshops.

Live in housing that does not meet safe building codes.

All of these things are not quite spelled out in the constitution but obviously fall under the Necessary and proper or General Welfare clauses.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | December 30, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein completely misses the point w.r.t.this effort. Indeed the health care act tried to constitutionally justify itself, and upon reading said justification, the GOP concluded, correctly, that the it didn't pass constituional muster. That is the exact point of including something as described above, to take a moment and consider whether the constitution gives congress the power that they are attempting to use in a bill. Perhaps for this particular bill this debate would have been raging anyway, (then again perhaps not; maybe upon reading said lame justification, it was obvious to many that this bill needed to be changed), but future bills will have to pass through the same debate.

Posted by: octopi213
____________________
no, the point is that whether the mandate had made this statement or not, or if this rule had been adopted at the time and the disclaimer read just like this, the political debate over the constitutionality would have been the same, with opponents on one side and proponents on the other - nothing would change.

The constitutionality of pending legislation can be raised by anyone at any time, and frequently is, and is part of the debate on any bill where it is raised as a serious question.

the proposed rule accomplishes exactly nothing

Posted by: JoeT1

You clearly did not understand my point. I said perhaps for THIS PARTICULAR BILL the debate would exist anyway, there is no way to be certain. However for future bills, it forces the proponents to at least attempt to justify the powers they are trying to give to congress. I also speculated that perhaps because this bill included a woeful attempt to justify it's reach, it made it that more obvious to those reading it that the argument was poor and not justified by the constitution. There is no way we will know for sure, since this provision was included in this bill.

Posted by: octopi213
______________________
I didn't miss your point at all. I simply disagree that this rule would do anything. I don't recall there ever being a bill where a constitutional objection was discovered after the fact that no one in the legislature had thought of, that they might have thought of if there had been a rule to think of it.

and to suggest that the health reform reference is what tipped off the opposition to a potential problem is absurd.

Posted by: JoeT1 | December 30, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I guess you are pretty slow, but the logic is pretty simple actually: We make our Congressmen go through the exercise of pointing out where in the Constitution resides the powers required to pass the legislation they are drafting. That should stop in their tracks at least 20% of all bills contemplated. And for things like ObamaCare, when they attempt to identify a clause, at least we get to see how ridiculousness of their logic. Anyone who thinks that the phrase "Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce among the several states" gives Congress the right to force everyone to buy health care insurance is either a shill for ObamaCare or smoking some serious 420.

Posted by: Faldo | December 30, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"Mr. Klein completely misses the point w.r.t.this effort. Indeed the health care act tried to constitutionally justify itself, and upon reading said justification, the GOP concluded, correctly, that the it didn't pass constituional muster," writes octopi.
------------
No, YOU miss the exact point Klein is making, and by doing so, make his point for him. When you say that the "GOP concluded, correctly" that is your opinion. You may think it's an objective fact, but sorry, it ain't.


Posted by: monk4hall

Well what are we doing here, throwing out opinions are we not? Everything on here is an opinion, including yours and Mr. Klein's. I simiply pointed out the logical fallacy of his argument, which you were unable to refute and resorted to simply saying I was wrong without being able to say why. This is a classic liberal debated tactic, one that Mr. Klein utlizes quite often.

Posted by: octopi213 | December 30, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

I know the constitution is to old for you to understand, I mean according to you like geez it's over 100 years old or something.

Regarding the second amendment the constitution doesn't say you have to belong to a militia to own a gun, it just says you can own a gun. Is that so hard to understand?

Posted by: robtr | December 30, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"...The confusion stems from court cases. The Constitution itself is one of the clearest, most forward-thinking documents ever written.

Posted by: lug21 | December 30, 2010 2:32 PM
=========================================
Why has it been amended so many times?

Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

janet8, who believes in mice with human brains, has no difficulty whatsoever interpreting the Constitution. Her years of experience posting inane commentary here at the WaPo uniquely qualify her to conclude that the Constitution implicitly supports her view of what the framers intended.

It is all quite simple, you see.

Perhaps she is unaware of how her assertion perfectly supports Mr. Klein's point. I'd wager so.

Posted by: veritasinmedium | December 30, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

The constitutionality of proposed federal legislation is already considered as a matter of routine while bills are being developed. People may disagree about whether a bill is constitutional, but it is simply not the case that the Congress develops legislation without considering its constitutionality. This new rule has a false implication. The rule is simply a piece of propaganda, a lie to make people think that the Congress doesn't consider or care whether legislation is constitutional. The rule is even more ridiculous when you consider that the main point of having a Congress is to provide for debate and decision about the desirability of proposed legislation and if someone thinks the Congress has gotten it wrong, then they are free to pursue the matter in the federal courts.

Posted by: Bob22003 | December 30, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Well, well. The original "Journolist" confirms what we all knew: that he has no understanding of what America is, what law is, what we stand for as a people. For the Journolist, the only thing that matters is ramming through a socialist, amoral agenda. Hence their reliance on courts, rather than elected legislatures, to get most of their programs through.

Disgusting that the Post gives this unAmerican punk a platform. Katherine Graham, where are you?

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | December 30, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

samslaw25: I learned the definition of a subordinate clause 50 years ago in grade school. Would appreciate more substance and less mindless snark on your part.

Posted by: ElmerStoup | December 30, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution, much like the Bible, is used to support preconceived notions. I have had lengthy discussions on the internet with individuals over the meaning of the 14th Amendment, specifically this clause:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Now, to me that meant that no state shall pass a law that affects individuals based upon their characteristics, ie. race, sex, height, so forth. Yet the individual I was arguing with said that this clause gave the states the right to enact laws such as SB1070, the Arizonan Immigration Law.

If two reasonable people (assuming that I am reasonable) can have such a diverging opinion over what should be a clear cut clause, then there is no hope for the parties in agreeing on what the Constitution means.

Posted by: scooper1976 | December 30, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ezra in case you missed it the Second Amendment says the RIGHT of the people to KEEP and Bare ARMS SHALL NOT be INFRINGED.

I think thats a pretty clear statement.

Posted by: bjeagle784 | December 30, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Teabaggers полны дерьма.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | December 30, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution means whatever the Tea Bagers want it to mean, whenever they feel like interpreting it that way; the Mad Hatters rule.

Posted by: samsara15 | December 30, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Wow can you imagine that barak and the libs will now have to actually READ the constitution?? When they have governed all their lives relying on the Communist Manifesto

Posted by: mandinka2 | December 30, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Selling insurance or operating an insurance company may be interstate commerce and regulated as such under the Constitution, however, forcing someone to buy insurance is not. Whether you like it or not Ezra, the Founders wanted a small, divided and limited Federal government. Only progressives want unlimited Federal power to pursue their socialist utopia. Most Americans agree with the Founders and want limited goivernment.

Posted by: acahorvath | December 30, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

What they WANT is the good ol' USA - circa 1953.

What they're gonna GET is another matter . . .

Posted by: palmtree2001 | December 30, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Two points of interest
1. The absence of the tea party during the Bush years.
2. The absence of the tea party when Congress added another 800 billion to the deficit for the tax cuts to the rich.

Posted by: shipfreakbo214 | December 30, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." implies that you can keep and bear arms if you're part of a militia. Maybe all the gun owners should set up militias, analogous to the private clubs you could "join" for $1 to drink on Sundays?

Posted by: jimward21 | December 30, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

the constitution is old and hard to understand, thus let's disregard it...on the other hand, obamacare is new and impossible to understand, let's go with it...

Posted by: tsull12200 | December 30, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

There are established separation of powers.

The legislative branch passes laws.

The judicial branch interprets laws.

The executive branch executes the laws.

The Tea Party comes into the House and they're going to give us a civics lesson and overturn over 200 years of precedence in running our government.

The House/Legislature passes laws.

The House/Legislature interprets the law. Since bills should say what part of the Constitution allows the law. (Indicating the House of Representatives, and their all star intellect, is more suited in determining the constitutionality of laws than the Federal Courts of the United States run by Judges who spend their entire days dealing with understanding law. I can only imagine that putting a constitutional stamp on a bill will lead to fights over constitutionality of legislation in the House. A new Rep who hob nobs with special interest groups and campaigns half of his or her time in office will now play Constitutional scholar.).

Finally, House members are drum beating that they may throw wrenches into President Obama's execution of the Health Care Bill. Meaning that the House, and their all star abilities, is now part executor of the execution of our laws. Usurping the Executive Branch.

They want a Tea Party House of Representatives Dictatorship.

Posted by: camasca | December 30, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Barack Obama for creating the Tea Party.

Posted by: wxyz6200 | December 30, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein needs to be fired by the Post...not necessarily for this article, but i saw him on MSNBC this morning stating that the Constitution has "no binding power on anything," and that it doesn't matter because it's over 100 years.

What an utter MORON. First, the Constitution is over 200 years old you nitwit. Second, the reason why it was written down and narrowly i might add, was to avoid the Westminster system of having whatever legislative session you have decide what the laws are....it was a protection against a possible power grabbing congress. Whether or not you agree with the dems or the republicans when they hold congress is not the issue...it's do those party's overreach. The Constitution prevents that.

Klein would do well to read the declaration of independence first, then the constitution. then he will understand why our government is what it is.

Better yet, why doesn't he move to a country that has a westminster system (england, canada, etc), that way when he wants to have some policy enacted that flies in the face of prior law, all it would take is an act of that parliament, and not have to worry about the constitution saying no.

get serious klein - you are no expert, and you should not be discussing these issues - it's morally reprehensible of you to pretend to be an honest journalist.

Posted by: baldwinboy20011 | December 30, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ezra in case you missed it the Second Amendment says the RIGHT of the people to KEEP and Bare ARMS SHALL NOT be INFRINGED.

I think thats a pretty clear statement.

Posted by: bjeagle784 | December 30, 2010 4:18 PM |

-------------------------------------------

The above, copied exactly from an earlier posting, is a prime example of why the Tea Party has a per capita IQ of 75.

And here is their poster boy:

http://www.amazon.com/Right-Bare-Arms-Larry-Cable/dp/B0007QS4T6

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | December 30, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ezra in case you missed it the Second Amendment says the RIGHT of the people to KEEP and Bare ARMS SHALL NOT be INFRINGED.

I think thats a pretty clear statement.

Posted by: bjeagle784

~~~

Hey, bjeagle784,

You intentionally left off the first part of the 2nd amendment, because you just like all Conservatives want to interpret it's meaning to fit once again into your own little mind.

Here is the full sentence:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Do you read it. If not, it says a "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...."

bjeagle, you are not a part of any militia, nor did you fight in the American Revolutionary War against the British.

You probably like dressing up and pretending that you did, but you were not there, bjagle, which was the intention for the 2nd Amendment.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | December 30, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Barack Obama for creating the Tea Party.

Posted by: wxyz6200 | December 30, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you really have indulged in the Liberal Kool Aid to the point of no return.

Posted by: Jsuf | December 30, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

The Teabaggers want to take this country back to a period in time where non-whites were considered non-citizens, without any level of civil rights. There want to repeal the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution...


Posted by: demtse | December 30, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

What do the Baggers want?

To twist the constitution to fit their demented amerikan taliban agenda, the same way they twist the bible.

Posted by: vze2r3k5 | December 30, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

In the New Testament, Jesus prohibits the eating of figs, yet Christians eat figs. Why? Because it was a parable. In the same fashion, you should treat the bits of the Constitution you disagree with as parables.

Posted by: jimward21 | December 30, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

These folks don't want the Constitution they want to return to the Articles of Confederation.

Posted by: kuvasz | December 30, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

All this back and forth regarding the constitutíon reminds me of all the back and forths about the bible. It all boils down to sense of community and what a group agrees on. Fortunately we cant't agree on anything - at least that balances the extremes on both ends. We've always been a nation of spend now and pay later - why should that change now? Recently, we've been a nation of no responsibility - just read all the warning labels (no such thing as stupid is as stupid does) - and we've always been a nation with little regard about other cultures (know anything about our relationship with native americans - indians) We are truly an amazing and interesting culture full of ourselfs and the individual. We study history, but learn nothing. Charities are good because they make us feel good while giving a sense of power and right - forget self dignity and obligation. I wonder what our forefathers would think about all this knowing then what is going on today - roll over Bethoven?

As much as you would like, you can not teleport back 200 years. If you desire that lifestyle (tea-party), join the Amish (whom I think are cool, they at least do the walk)

Posted by: Timotious | December 30, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I like the analysis. But, are we heading towards a "legislative dictatorship" under the "unbrella of the Constitution. It reminds me of the Puritans preaching under the Bible!!!!!Or, is it that The republicans are going to have the Constitution hostage!!!!
America, please, get united in one single Nation, not only Republicans and Democrats live in USA!!!

Posted by: Oscart | December 30, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

------
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Hey, bjeagle784,

You intentionally left off the first part of the 2nd amendment, because you just like all Conservatives want to interpret it's meaning to fit once again into your own little mind.

------
and once again liberals are idiots.....the idea of a militia is basically the national guard -- in other words, drafting the citizens of a town or a state on the spot to protect the nation. This is one part of the constitution that the founders never thought we would get to where we are today with wealth, and technoligical advancements.

If you notice, they said the "people" not the milita when they said keep and bear arms.

The reason was in case of an invasion by a foreign power (or any other power for that matter), the local, state or federal government can go into a town and say "hey, we're being invaded, pick up your guns and defend your country."

So the intent was to have every day average joe to have a gun. If you're going to post telling someone they havent read the whole thing, read the whole thing, and understand it.

Posted by: baldwinboy20011 | December 30, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the wheels are really coming off the liberal bus. Now you liberals finally admit you don't believe in the Constitution?

Good to know.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | December 30, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

octopi213:
"Indeed the health care act tried to constitutionally justify itself, and upon reading said justification, the GOP concluded, correctly, that the it didn't pass constituional muster."

So what you're saying is that Grassley et al were all in favor of it, and then they read the Consitution (for the first time?) and suddenly realized how wrong they were?

And why do you say "correctly"?

Posted by: presto668 | December 30, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

The Teaparty like the John Birch Society is not a new thing in American politics.

It too will strut and fret its hour upon the stage, and will be heard no more.

Posted by: capmbillie | December 30, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse


Ezra's post is a new level of illogic in the ever changing saga of the left's constitutionalism. He takes something SO simple: no congres should pass a bill without being able to claim a legal basis for the legislative body's action. If you cant claim a basis then you shouldnt pass the bill. It may be a good faith argument that is rejected by the supreme court but if you really think you're act is constitutionally authorized then this requirement shouldnt bother you.

Posted by: dummypants | December 30, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Is it me or has Ezra's writing been falling a bit short since they disbanded JournOlist?

Posted by: luca_20009 | December 30, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

".... Yes insurance is commerce. But no one has ever been "forced" to take part in commerce they did not want to participate in...."

Posted by: TStewart2 | December 30, 2010 2:31 PM
======================================
Why can't I drive on the road I paid to have built and maintained without being compelled to buy the insurance?

And no one is forcing anyone to "live" either. As a matter of fact, there is no mandate to buy the health care insurance. You have choices to pay a fine, leave the country, hide, go to jail, etc.

Posted by: kishorgala

=========================================

First of all the requirement to have car insurance is predicated on owning a vehicle, not driving. Second, saying to someone they must have health insurance or go to jail isn't a free choice.

This is really an important Constitutional question, can the government compel an individual to purchase a commercial product solely because he's breathing?

Posted by: bbface21 | December 30, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

The Teaparty like the John Birch Society is not a new thing in American politics.

It too will strut and fret its hour upon the stage, and will be heard no more.
***********

Hating on the teaparty only makes it stronger. In case you havent noticed?

Posted by: dummypants | December 30, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

First the liberals ignored the Tea Party. They'd hold massive rallies and not a word was printed about it.

Then the liberals derided the Tea Parties as some kind of joke. They started calling them Tea Baggers.

Then they demonized the Tea Partiers, making them out to be a bunch of racists.

Finally, in November, Obama and the liberals all got Tea Bagged.

Did you enjoy it, Ezra? You look like the kind of guy who would.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | December 30, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The Teapartyists just try to make all people believe that they ARE the Constitution specialists. And it's working.

Posted by: rolandberger | December 30, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Teabaggers eru full af skít.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | December 30, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

What is needed is a SCOTUS delineation of the parameters of the Interstate Commerce clause ... and ALL points in the constitution that are used as a smoke screen to 'blanket' pass legislation that has absolutely nothing to do with interstate commerce, any other of the clauses or even the Constitution. Barring this, each and every proposal will simply have 'interstate commerce clause' rubber stamped on the bottom.

Posted by: IQ168 | December 30, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting in that it is interstate commerce, but that the legislation still allows the state to make restrictive demands on the content of insurance policies, preventing insurers from offering plans that traverse more than one state.

Posted by: staticvars | December 30, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Why can't I drive on the road I paid to have built and maintained without being compelled to buy the insurance?
*********

For the same reason you can be compelled to buy health insurance, the "police power", which is weilded exclusively by the states, the same states who pass state laws to own car insurance.

There is not a federal requirement that you buy car insurance.

There is, HOWEVER, a federal law saying that legal immigrants must have their "papers" on hand at all times and must show them upon request. Authoritarian lefties love trying to steal power from the states but hate to have the states enforce national laws that they dont have the guts or political supports to actually repeal via legislative action.

Posted by: dummypants | December 30, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Ezra old mate; it might be interstate commerce, but the federal government does not have the power to force it's citizens to buy a service or goods under penalty of a tax or fine;; sorry lib-boy you lose.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Nobody cares what they want.

Tell them to go take a hike.

And STEP AWAY from our Middle Class Social Security!

Posted by: WillSeattle | December 30, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty funny watching the Tea Party try & spin this one. The Constitution was intentionally left open to interpretation and amendment. The Founding Fathers wanted to strike a balance between a government that was strong enough to hold the nation together, but still bound to the will of the people.

I saw a post somewhere recently complaining that liberals want to change everything about this country. That's simply not true. Liberal do want to change things that they think are wrong. You can argue that in some cases, what we want to change doesn't need changing, but arguing that NOTHING should be changed goes against the grain of what makes America a great and exceptional nation. We assimilate and absorb the best of new ideas and new people, and make them our own.

Posted by: Uncle_Joe | December 30, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Scanning the comments I see a lot of angry tea baggers. Sorry, but Mr. Klein is right. Go back to masturbating to images of Andrew Breitbart, you failures.

Posted by: justinshs | December 30, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Typical of this writer (and others of his ilk) to point only to apparent hypocrisy of one party. Let's reflect a moment on how Obama and his administration handled the mandate and why the bill included language on the constitutionality of the individual mandate under the commerce clause.

Did they or did they not claim that it (the mandate) was not to be considered a "tax" on people who chose not to purchase insurance during the debates on this particular section of the health care reform bill?

Mr. Stephanopoulos: "But you reject that it's a tax increase?"

Mr. Obama: "I absolutely reject that notion."

http://blogs.abcnews.com/george/2009/09/obama-mandate-is-not-a-tax.html

And then later, did his administration ADMIT that it was a tax? An "excise" tax?

Mr. Klien conveniently left out that the clause about Commerce in the final Health Care Bill was put in there to AVOID THE WORD TAX.

"At the time Obama made that statement (that it was absolutely not a tax), the Senate Finance Committee had just released its own health care bill, which clearly referred to the mandate penalty as an “excise tax.”

But in later versions, the word “tax” was stripped, because it had become too much of a political liability for Democrats.

The final version that Obama signed did not describe the mandate as a tax, and used the Commerce Clause — not federal taxing power — as the Constitutional justification for the mandate."

Despite his claim FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES that the individual mandate was not a tax - his administration then argued in Federal Court that it WAS a tax.

Department of Justice Memo for a motion to dismiss the challenge to the individual mandate:

.... “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the person against whom such tax was assessed.”

The memo goes on to say that it makes no difference whether the disputed payment it is called a “tax” or “penalty,” because either way, it’s “assessed and collected in the same manner” by the Internal Revenue Service.

http://rightwingnews.com/2010/06/obama-administration-calls-individual-mandate-a-tax/


Let the Republicans read the Constitution to which they swear their oath upon taking office. If nothing else, it will serve to help them remember that they are to uphold it.

Let the law makers have to cite how their law is constitutional - perhaps it will do some good but it can do no harm.

In the end, the SCOTUS will determine what is and is not constitutional.

Posted by: LMW6 | December 30, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Oops. Left out the "not" in the second sentence of the second paragraph of my post at 2:00 PM.

The sentence should read: Thus, membership in a militia is not a requirement to have the right of self-defense.

And, metaqubit, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by: ElmerStoup | December 30, 2010 2:16 PM

__________________________________________

Freudian slip? Typo? Ahh, the perils of interpretation. As an exercise in hermeneutics, read the comments posted in this thread arguing for the clarity of the meaning of the Second Amendment. Each one uses a canon of interpretation to minimize the significance of the introductory phrase. The canon(s) that are applied are contestable, the applications of those canons are contestable, yet each commenter fails to see any grounds for contestation. That's because each commenter's certitude derives not from the a logically necessary consequence of indisputable interpretive criteria but from the initial "worldview" that grounds their interpretation. There's nothing wrong with this. It's pretty much inevitable when applying a general principle to innumerable specific circumstances. (There's a reason why Aristotle appeals to _prudence_ in his discussion of practical reason in the _Nichomachean Ethics_). The problem arises when one tries to present one's worldview under the guise of interpretive necessity. At that point politics becomes a secular religion of the fundamentalist sort.

Posted by: QuickBen | December 30, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

The reason was in case of an invasion by a foreign power (or any other power for that matter), the local, state or federal government can go into a town and say "hey, we're being invaded, pick up your guns and defend your country."

So the intent was to have every day average joe to have a gun. If you're going to post telling someone they havent read the whole thing, read the whole thing, and understand it.

Posted by: baldwinboy20011 |

~~~

Most likely you will find several reasons in books and internet writings for it's original intent.

However, the real purpose for it, during my research several years back was for the citizens of the 13 Colonies to protect themselves from the British Empire. During the beginning of the American Revolution, there was NO U.S., regulated or formal military, so the INDIVIDUAL citizen's living in those 13 Colony's had no choice but to come together and established their own militia to fight against and break free from the British Empire.

The American Revolution ended somewhere in 1781 and the 2nd Amendment was adopted in 1791 with the other Bill of Rights.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | December 30, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

You Liberals just like to be told what to do and like having the government take care of everything for you. You are just a bunch of lazy people with no drive and prefer to have someone making all of your decisions for you. The government is slowly intruding on virtually every aspect of American life. Regulate this, regulate that. It's total BS, but apparently life is easier just going along with it. Pathetic.

Posted by: Jsuf | December 30, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Could this new addition to House rules mean that the Rules Committee, under Republican control, will be empowered to disapprove legislation that a majority of its members believes to be unconstitutional? This could make the Rules Committee more powerful than ever and effectively give the Speaker another way to kill legislative proposals for which he does not want a vote to be recorded.

Posted by: Viewpoint2 | December 30, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

The Tea Party has served this nation well! It has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that an intelligence test should be administered prior to the privilege of voting being bestowed. The first question is this: Do you think Glenn Beck knows what he is talking about? If the answer is, “Yes!” Not only should they lose the privilege to vote, they should be banished from the nation forever and ever and ever.

Posted by: newsboy3 | December 30, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Could this new addition to House rules mean that the Rules Committee, under Republican control, will be empowered to disapprove legislation that a majority of its members believes to be unconstitutional? This could make the Rules Committee more powerful than ever and effectively give the Speaker another way to kill legislative proposals for which he does not want a vote to be recorded.

Posted by: Viewpoint2 | December 30, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse


Ezra's post is a new level of illogic in the ever changing saga of the left's constitutionalism. He takes something SO simple: no congres should pass a bill without being able to claim a legal basis for the legislative body's action. If you cant claim a basis then you shouldnt pass the bill. It may be a good faith argument that is rejected by the supreme court but if you really think you're act is constitutionally authorized then this requirement shouldnt bother you.

Posted by: dummypants | December 30, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

They are just scary people. They use the Bible the same way, closed, like a weapon instead of a source of enlightenment.

Posted by: SarahBB | December 30, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I think (not that anyone cares what I think), that this is all basically about money. If we limit what government can do, then government gets smaller. A smaller government would cost less, thus our taxes would go down. We use the argument of personal liberties and government intrusion to target what areas we think are ripe for cutting, and skip over those that we kind of like.

I have heard the cries (and sometimes screams) of those that feel that the government is doing to much for to many, and thus we should cut back on the social safety nets, and force the “deadbeats” to get a job and pay for their own insurance (among other things). In fact, I am sure that some would say we should eliminate the safety nets all together (welfare, food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc.) and force people to “get a job”. (Reminds me of the “are there no poor houses” line from A Christmas Carol.)

The bottom line is that the remaining shreds of personal responsibility and community responsibility have morphed into a “I worked for my place in the US, and I’ll be dammed if I’ll give part of it to some low-life, irresponsible deadbeat”. My obligation is to the community of workers in this country, not to the poor, uneducated or homeless.

It is truly sad that most of what we believe in and what we once stood for, has come down to simple dollars and cents. Government is too big because of a vast left wing conspiracy to make us a socialist nation, and give the deadbeats our money.

But then ask every over 65 tea bagger what he/she thinks of social security. That safety net can stay.

Posted by: The_Rat | December 30, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

All you supposedly forward looking -backward thinking lib/progressives should not only understand the esoteric meaning of the constitution,but also review history over the last 200 years and understand socialism never works as planned and is a historic failure to a thriving society, it breeds complacent mediocrity.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

As stupid as many of these comments are, Klein's original article is hardly better. I wish for one thing in American politics: let the right to vote be made contingent on getting at least 85% correct on a random selection of questions from the citizenship naturalization test.

Well, maybe one more wish: let everyone shut up about the constitution unless they've spent some time reading and understanding the Federalist papers. The constitution is not really so unclear, its intent is not so obscure, and we have everything we need to know what it meant. All we have to do is read it. And if we want the constitution to allow our federal government to do more, by all means let's amend the thing, as much as needed, just like Jefferson suggested.

Posted by: _BSH | December 30, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

QuickBen: Sometimes a typo is just that, a typo.

To quote Freud, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Posted by: ElmerStoup | December 30, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Jsuf wrote:

You Liberals just like to be told what to do and like having the government take care of everything for you. You are just a bunch of lazy people with no drive and prefer to have someone making all of your decisions for you. The government is slowly intruding on virtually every aspect of American life. Regulate this, regulate that. It's total BS, but apparently life is easier just going along with it. Pathetic.

- - - - - - - -

I find comments like these admirable in their honesty. Their strength is not in their thoughtfulness but in their thoughtlessness. Forget about Klein's argument, forget about problems of textual interpretation, forget about the Constitution, and forget about politics. It's all about _character_, those with good character and those without. This may be the 21st century, but we've kept one foot firmly planted in the 19th century.

Posted by: QuickBen | December 30, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love how both the right and the left don't understand the 2ND Amendment. First off they were not referring to a National Guard. When they say Militia they are talking about regular citizens. Keep in mind when the document was drafted they had just been through a bloody revolution. The 2ND Amendment is about protecting individuals from tyrannical government. It's not about home protection, hunting, or the National guard. It's about giving the people a fighting chance against any threat foreign or domestic.

Posted by: skins91r | December 30, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Ezra wrote: "My friends on the right don't like to hear this, but the Constitution is not a clear document."

Exactly. Nor is it holy writ, despite what certain people think. For an authoritative analysis of every clause in the Constitution -- legally, historically, the works -- see "America's Consitution: A Biography" by Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar.

Posted by: FurnaceCreek | December 30, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

If you are not Liberal when you are young, you have no heart. If you are not Conservative when you are old, you have no mind”…..or words to that effect

Anybody remember who said that?

Is this an age thing?

Posted by: The_Rat | December 30, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

justintime;; a couple of things noted about your style; libs can not enter into a factual discussion, they must become vulgar; it is all you have and secondly,TEA PARTY CANDIDATES KICKED the Dems backside in 2010 and will do the same in 2012; America is finished with the 20% liberal minority trying to impose their twisted ideology upon them. You are a dinosaur now being used by the Marxists such as George Soros and Michael Moore. Sorry old boy it is just that way and now with the huge gains by the TEA PARTY candidates at the local level your districts are going to become red , bye bye.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

It is very easy to read the statements here and know exactly who is a member of the “Tea Party”; the ignorance is thick like stew and the sheer level of stupidity is astounding. If I ever become president, I want you Tea Partiers to know, I will sign an executive order authorizing your arrest for crimes against intelligence and you banished, bodily, from the solar system.

Posted by: newsboy3 | December 30, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

More Tea Party hypocrisy. There was no screaming when the previous administration was walking all over the constitution - warrantless wiretaps; torture; Guantanamo. They want to deny women rights over their body and then give approval when you can die. To the Tea Party the constitution is whatever they want it to be!
Also, I guess their next move is to do away with the Supreme Court.

Posted by: labernosky1 | December 30, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution is no stronger that the White Supremacists who used it to torture and enslave and debase the liberty espoused in the country's early documents. This is where it seems the Tea Party and Ron Paul are trying to revive. As disgusting as The Dred Scott decision was in 1857, the right wing justices made it constitutional but ignited a torch that led to Civil War. Just like the Bible, anybody can read through a book and find examples to justify their beliefs:

1857
Mr. Chief Justice Taney delivered the opinion of the Court....

In the opinion of the Court the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument....

They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race....

No one, we presume, supposes that any change in public opinion or feeling, in relation to this unfortunate race, in the civilized nations of Europe or in this country should induce the Court to give to the words of the Constitution a more liberal construction in their favor than they were intended to bear when the instrument was framed and adopted....

And upon a full and careful consideration of the subject, the Court is of opinion that, upon the facts stated in the plea in abatement, Dred Scott was not a citizen of Missouri within the meaning of the Constitution of the United States and not entitled as such to sue in its courts....

Posted by: Southsider | December 30, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Elmer:

How we know that a cigar is just a cigar (or in this case, that a typo just a typo)? Freud acknowledges the possibility, but never really figured out how to answer that question. Of course my claim regarding Freud depends upon a particular interpretation of his work, ground in my particular reading of his case studies beginning with the _Interpretation of Dreams_. Perhaps more to the point, a cigar is neither a sentence nor a principle of general application (except, possibly, as Freud might interpret it).

Posted by: QuickBen | December 30, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Didn't the Constitution originally permit slavery? So much for the idea that it is perfect and that law shouldn't evolve.

It is amusing that team Obama couldn't even sell the individual mandate, a Republican idea, to the Republicans. And as far as spin, how often have you heard the argument that it will make the freeloaders pay and that freeloaders are already having an effect on interstate commerce by raising everyone else's rates? Sigh . . . I wonder if they could sell sno-cones during a heat wave.

Posted by: scientist1 | December 30, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Dumpypants, I see you're taking a Constitutional here. Thankfully, the Constitution was written by people who, unlike you, understood the difference between "your" and "you're"

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | December 30, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

ekim53 are you Nobama11 today?

Posted by: knjincvc | December 30, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"You are just a bunch of lazy people with no drive and prefer to have someone making all of your decisions for you. The government is slowly intruding on virtually every aspect of American life. Regulate this, regulate that. It's total BS, but apparently life is easier just going along with it. Pathetic."

Yeah jsuf - "Regulate this, regulate that. It's total BS . . . "

That's pretty much what conservatives had to say about slavery, child labor, women's voting rights, Civil Rights and every other humane and enlightened effort conceived by rational and compassionate people.

. . . but hey - don't let that stop you.

Posted by: palmtree2001 | December 30, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Government mandates on individual citizens are bunk!

Posted by: rteske | December 30, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Didn't the Constitution originally permit slavery? So much for the idea that it is perfect and that law shouldn't evolve.

It is amusing that team Obama couldn't even sell the individual mandate, a Republican idea, to the Republicans. And as far as spin, how often have you heard the argument that it will make the freeloaders pay and that freeloaders are already having an effect on interstate commerce by raising everyone else's rates? Sigh . . . I wonder if they could sell sno-cones during a heat wave.

Posted by: scientist1 | December 30, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

------------------
Please site where the Constitution permits slavery. I missed that part and would like to give it a read.

Posted by: skins91r | December 30, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Having read the Constitution several times, and a number of good works discussing the Convention that created it, I concluded long ago that the Wisdom of the Founders was in creating a general framework for government rather than a highly detailed defining document. These great and learned men realized that it was not possible to see the future, and that their words would be subject to interpretation as conditions demanded.

Their original intent, which has been stated by most historians and legal scholars, was to create a Central Government that was strong enough to endure, and potent enough to both fund and defend itself; both these conditions were sorely lacking in the Articles of Confederation.

As for this new rule, I regard it as theater for the rubes. If there were any grave risk of Congress passing laws that violated the Constitution, then our history would include a lot more laws being struck down by the courts, and that percentage is pitifully small so far.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | December 30, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

What is needed is a SCOTUS delineation of the parameters of the Interstate Commerce clause ... and ALL points in the constitution that are used as a smoke screen to 'blanket' pass legislation that has absolutely nothing to do with interstate commerce, any other of the clauses or even the Constitution. Barring this, each and every proposal will simply have 'interstate commerce clause' rubber stamped on the bottom.

Posted by: IQ168 | December 30, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

"The Tea Party has served this nation well! It has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that an intelligence test should be administered prior to the privilege of voting being bestowed. The first question is this: Do you think Glenn Beck knows what he is talking about? If the answer is, “Yes!” Not only should they lose the privilege to vote, they should be banished from the nation forever and ever and ever."

Hypothetically, assume that a tea party Congress implements this test as you propose it, but replaces "Glenn Beck" with "Keith Olbermann". Liberals are deported on the basis of intellectual opposition alone.

From what principle could you oppose it?

Posted by: justin84 | December 30, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

These ignorant, moronic, illiterate Tea Partyers who keep blithering about the right to BARE arms would make me laugh...if I weren't for the fact I'm terrified about where they'd take this country if they manage to conduct the putsch they so clearly want.

Posted by: FurnaceCreek | December 30, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

"These Constitution Thumpers are merely the modern version of Bible Thumpers. They neither study nor live by the book that they thump."

This is so true. They are completely satisfied to project their personal inclinations into the yawning gaps in their understanding of the document, thereby lending a completely unwarranted sense of smug validation to whatever they already thought.

Posted by: jeffwacker | December 30, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Here is some more constitutional BS from Judge Chaney. If it weren't for the Civil War, this disgusting anti-Christian dictum would still be in force. Question? Does the Tea Party think people of African descent can be constitutional citizens?
Is that why they want to rewrite the Fourteenth amendment to take out the rights of citizens?
.....
Chief Justice Chaney spews his Tea Party vision of America:

It seems, however, to be supposed that there is a difference between property in a slave and other property....

Now...the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution. The right to traffic in it, like an ordinary article of merchandise and property, was guaranteed to the citizens of the United States, in every state that might desire it, for twenty years. And the government in express terms is pledged to protect it in all future time if the slave escapes from his owner. This is done in plain words--too plain to be misunderstood. And no word can be found in the Constitution which gives Congress a greater power over slave property or which entitles property of that kind to less protection than property of any other description....

Upon these considerations it is the opinion of the Court that the act of Congress which prohibited a citizen from holding and owning property of this kind in the territory of the United States north of the line therein mentioned is not warranted by the Constitution and is therefore void; and that neither Dred Scott himself, nor any of his family, were made free by being carried into this territory; even if they had been carried there by the owner with the intention of becoming a permanent resident.

Posted by: Southsider | December 30, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Since our illegal [impostor in chief] has made public statements that the Constitution only says what the feds CAN NOT DO and I am sure if he would release his college dissertations he has gone "on the record" as wanting to rewrite the document elaborating on all the things the government should be able [TO DO TO THE PEOPLE]; HE HAS BEEN SUCH A RENEGADE AND DESPOT that we the 65% of real Americans want to make sure he is stopped from abusing his executive powers visa via following the guidelines of the CONSTITUTION.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

This was a Republican idea, the Democratic idea was a single payer system. I want to know who is so dumb that they don't want health insurance. Excuse me, I know a man like that, waited until age 67 to apply for Medicare, I bet his wife could have killed him. All I really keep hearing is fools that are afraid that someone else will get health care they don't "deserve". I, for one, am glad I have health insurance to cover my care for my recent cancer diagnosis. I pay $600 a month including pay for Medicare and BCBS so it is a large chunk of my income.

Posted by: ccorbitt1 | December 30, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if someone will ask "what happens to people if they are allowed to opt out of a mandate?."
Should they be refused hospital care unless they pay cash?. Should they sign a document saying "I choose not to have healthcare and will treat myself and family at home with homeopathic remedies"?.
What if they have underage children who can't speak for themselves?
Great question for the Supreme Court. "Should men, women and children be allowed to die if they choose not to have health insurance?.

Posted by: JillCalifornia | December 30, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

isn't it the Post's responsibility to hire reporters who are grown-ups? The 'over 100 years old' remark would get an F from almost any accredited college or university, except of course, Hahvahd or Brown or a couple of other moonbat havens.

Posted by: djman1141 | December 30, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

They want to replace "We the People" with "We the Teabaggers."

Posted by: AIPACiswar | December 30, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The split in the three court rulings was "clean across partisan lines," all right, but there is more to it. In my experience as a civil rights lawyer who has been kicked around by conservative judges for many years, my observation is that liberal judges try to respect precedent and conservatives do whatever the hell they want. Ironic, isn't it, given the propaganda to the contrary? That certainly happened in Bush v. Gore, and countless other federal cases over the years. It happened with the health care act, too. And if you think I am biased, it comes with the company of statistical evidence, thanks to two law professors from Cornell's law school who have been documenting this tragic trend for more than a decade. Our federal courts are now politicized. It is dangerous to the Constitution.

Posted by: DLWilson34120 | December 30, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein asks a question: What do conservatives/Tea Party people want?

Simple: We want to fix a problem created by decades of misinterpreting the Constitution, which created a government of limited powers and limited scope.

The country is going broke, because government is doing many more things than the country's founders intended the government would have the power to do.

Too often, five supreme court justices have approved the extra government powers and programs on the theory of a living document "expandable" constitution. Of course, a perpetually expandable constitution means there are no limits. The country is currently suffering from decades of no limits on government size and power.

The expansion theory is only a temporary liberal legal bandaid on a mortal wound. Just as legal bandaids don't fix wounds that need medical treatment, they also don't fix economic/social problems caused by big government.

The five justices can't produce the value that's needed to pay for everything they approve.

There will be fighting on the streets of America between interest groups as the government decides to deliver goodies to favored interest groups and breaks promises to other interest groups.

Conservatives seek to bring the Constitution's original intent of a government of limited scope and powers to get government out of the business of promising more things to more people than government can deliver.

Posted by: jfv123 | December 30, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Teabaggers and evangelical theocons are almost one in the same. Their common denominator is cherry-picking writing to conveniently suit their selfish agendas - be it their scriptures or the Constitution.

Posted by: areyousaying | December 30, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

It appears, Ezra, that you hit a nerve! An amazing number of these comments nicely validate your observations. Self-reflective wisdom seems to be in short supply these days.

Posted by: pbkritek | December 30, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Teabaggers and evangelical theocons are almost one in the same. Their common denominator is cherry-picking writing to conveniently suit their selfish agendas - be it their scriptures or the Constitution.

Posted by: areyousaying | December 30, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I really wish I could "bare arms" . . .

. . . but it's just too, too cold.

Posted by: palmtree2001 | December 30, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

To you lib/progs having enjoyed a floruit since 2006; America is not the same place you once remembered. It has had an awakening primarily created by your over reaching colonialist dictator leader. More than ever we the people are going to be in the way of any further destruction reaped upon us by this narcissistic megla-maniac. You are in for some real challenges in the next several years and bullying is not going to getter done, mate.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"Why can't I drive on the road I paid to have built and maintained without being compelled to buy the insurance?"
Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 2:42 PM
===========================================
kishorgala,
The answer to your question is simple. You are not compelled to buy insurance to drive. You may post a bond instead, or otherwise show that you are financially responsible for some of the harm that you might to do others with the vehicle that you drive. That is called liability and property damage insurance. You are not compelled to buy insurance to protect you from the harm that you might do to yourself, or insurance that would cover all of the harm that other drivers might do to you. That type of insurance includes medical insurance sold by your automobile insurer for medical expenses that you might personally incur in an accident, no matter whose fault it is. It also includes uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage. You really do need those last two types of coverage because about 20% of drivers don't think that they are really compelled to buy insurance. An even larger number of drivers carry insufficient insurance to cover the damage that they might do to you.
===========================================
And no one is forcing anyone to "live" either. As a matter of fact, there is no mandate to buy the health care insurance. You have choices to pay a fine, leave the country, hide, go to jail, etc.

Posted by: kishorgala | December 30, 2010 2:42 PM
===========================================
kishorgala,
It was silly of you to post the comment above along with a phoney complaint about being compelled to buy car insurance. The things that you wish others to suffer are the implements used to force (or compell) others to do their bidding.

Posted by: d_kosloff | December 30, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Obama a "colonialist"? Can someone explain that one to me?

Posted by: The_Rat | December 30, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

". However, they also want those juicy government servics we all like, such as Medicare and Social Security, etc."

No, not really.

Posted by: krazen1211
_________________

Your statement seems ironic, k, in light of this well-known announcement:

"Keep your government hands off my Medicare!"

Posted by: arancia12 | December 30, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Dear metaqubit,

Before you begin calling other people idiots, you should perhaps learn to use the English language effectively so that you don't come across as an idiot. You don't need "less that 3,000 characters to make a simple point," you need "fewer" characters.

Secondly, constitutional questions in our country can't really be resolved by "ancient documents" (and why did you put scare quotes around documents that you consider so important?) that precede the framing of the Constitution. Because our judicial system largely builds on a fabric of precedent rulings, the rulings you uncovered from the early 1800's cannot really overturn all the rulings that succeeded them. And if these rulings "shred" (i.e., destroy) the meaning of the Constitution, why would anyone want to give them any credence?

.

Posted by: GeorgeSanders | December 30, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Very well put and written Ezra. For a young guy, you are a smart cookie.

Posted by: kschodack | December 30, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

For the coastal elites; there is a section of this nation as cokie roberts and katie couric so eloquently espoused recently known as the UNWASHED MASSES and we are not going to ruled by some phony Harvard pseudo-prof with his head thrown back snarling arrogantly down his nose as he reads from his teleprompter. We are not his people, we still know and want to take care of ourselves, with minimal government intervention; we do not wait for the first of the month for a cash transfer to our EBT CARDS; we do not wait for the government to provide our housing, we do not wait for the government to tell us we are victims of the wealthy wall street execs, we do not wait for the government to pay for oue education and grant us special admission rights to [make it fair], we do get it done and we also grow your food and keep you from starving.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

why is it that the RepubliKlans want to rewrite or dislike almost every part of it except the 2nd Amendment.

Here are a few examples of how the Tea Klan hates the Constitution

1 No Direct Election of Senators
2 No Birthright Citizenship
3 Change term-limits
4 Limit free speech
5 Get rid of Roe v. Wade by rewriting the Constitution.
6 No Gay Marriage in spite of equal protection
7 An amendment that would restrict the president's power to negotiate treaties
8 Get rid of due process


What I would like the GOP to do when they start their next session is to tell us line-by-line what they actually LIKE about the Constitution.

Posted by: rcc_2000 | December 30, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

You, with your liberal 20th Century Progressives have attempted to overstep the bounds of what our founding fathers (maybe, you could read the frikking document without your left wing interpretations) that made this Country great and evolved a land where, We, The People, are the rulers and not our Government. During the last century, people like you and Woodrow Wilson would love to reduce the people to slaves to your elitist crowd. If you feel so badly about the 47% of people that pay no taxes, leaving all to the rest of us 53% to cover their bills. And, yes, the 2nd Amendment does provide for the right for Individuals to bear and keep arms to over through the reached that thinks everybody else should be irresponsible so we all end up on the Government tit.

You need to be put in a rubber room locked away somewhere safe. Just because you can throw BS around, doesn't make it right. The Constitution establishes The People rights over those of the Government and if you think your liberal buddies have been charitable by keeping minorities in the projects, then, you are just as bad as a Slave Owner.

Charity has to come from the heart, not the government and only to the extent of helping those that Cannot help themselves, but, mostly, giving those who may have fallen on hard times a hand UP, not Out.

Hell, your rich. If you pretend to have such a bleeding heart, then, empty your wallet and join those in the projects. Please.

Posted by: leasador | December 30, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Quick Ben; I think it is time to call in some experts on the cigar debate; why don't we ask Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky; I bet the can tell you.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the 2nd Amendment is extremely clear.

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The actionable part of that statement is "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." If we need to re-write it for geniuses like Ezra, we could say "you can't restrict gun ownership". What's so murky about that?

The confusion stems from court cases. The Constitution itself is one of the clearest, most forward-thinking documents ever written.

Posted by: lug21 |
_______________________

So you completely disregard the first part about a well regulated militia. Why are some words in the 2nd Amendment worth reading and others aren't?

Undoubtably the right to bear arms is stated clearly, but if those who bear arms make up this militia then it is to be "well regulated."

That means...what? Now it gets murky. Should citizens register their guns in order to regulate this militia well? That doesn't infringe on their rights to own guns. Should certain guns be illegal? That too does not infringe on the right to own a gun, just not any gun.

Christ, you conservatives certainly pick and choose what words are to be heeded and what words ignored. That is what makes the entire Constitution murky.

Posted by: arancia12 | December 30, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Colonialist; someone who part of a colony; or forming a colony; he is isolating 65% of the inhabitants of America and creating a group [colony] of helpless victims aka blacks and Hispanics to solidify his voter base and create [2] Americas; how is that ?

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I didn't miss your point at all. I simply disagree that this rule would do anything. I don't recall there ever being a bill where a constitutional objection was discovered after the fact that no one in the legislature had thought of, that they might have thought of if there had been a rule to think of it.

and to suggest that the health reform reference is what tipped off the opposition to a potential problem is absurd.

Posted by: JoeT1

Perhaps its because we haven't had this rule that objections weren't found. After all, members of congress freely admit that they don't read the bills they vote on, and barely read the ones that they supposedly wrote. At least it would make the random staffer writing these stupid bills try to justify their content.

And you sound so sure that the health care bill would still have been challenged in court regardless. Perhaps this is true, but perhaps because the bill's author specifically mentioned the commerce clause, it was much easier for those combing through the bill to come to their conclusion to challenge it. Whatever, this bill is just one example, and will not prove whether this rule is worthy or not worthy. But I believe it is worth a shot for a year or so, to at least make sure each bill goes through a more rigorous evaluation then they did in the previous congress, where debate was stifled.

Posted by: octopi213 | December 30, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Best post of the day. Bears (bares?) reposting.

Having read the Constitution several times, and a number of good works discussing the Convention that created it, I concluded long ago that the Wisdom of the Founders was in creating a general framework for government rather than a highly detailed defining document. These great and learned men realized that it was not possible to see the future, and that their words would be subject to interpretation as conditions demanded.

Their original intent, which has been stated by most historians and legal scholars, was to create a Central Government that was strong enough to endure, and potent enough to both fund and defend itself; both these conditions were sorely lacking in the Articles of Confederation.

As for this new rule, I regard it as theater for the rubes. If there were any grave risk of Congress passing laws that violated the Constitution, then our history would include a lot more laws being struck down by the courts, and that percentage is pitifully small so far.

Posted by: OldUncleTom

Posted by: arancia12 | December 30, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

arancia12: The "people" in the primary clause of the 2nd Amendment are the same "people" in the 1st Amendment. Why do you want to take a position that limits the definition of "people"?

Posted by: ElmerStoup | December 30, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Responding to:
Please site where the Constitution permits slavery. I missed that part and would like to give it a read.

Posted by: skins91r | December 30, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse
------------------
Dear skins91r,

I won't "site" you passages from the Constitution, because I wouldn't be using the English language if I did so. However, I will "cite" two passages that permit slavery: Article 1, Section 2 and Article 1, Section 9. In Article 1, Section 2, slaves were counted as 3/5ths of complete persons:

"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."

Posted by: GeorgeSanders | December 30, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

For you forward thinking ever progressive liberals, let's not confine our definition of colonialism to the 1700 or 1800's; you like to think everything is a [living document] subject to change as the world evolves. Colonialism must be treated the same way, America has a President that is a racist, separatist, attempting to divide America into several factions based on class envy, racial deprivation [requiring income redistribution], denial of legal citizenship, etc. he is colonizing the population.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Ezra sez:

The individual responsibility requirement provided for in this section (in this subsection referred to as the requirement) is commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce," reads the opening paragraph. Shortly thereafter, the legislation makes itself more explicit: "In United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association (322 U.S. 533 (1944)), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that insurance is interstate commerce subject to Federal regulation."

Wow - the only insurance that had been devised when the Constitution was written was Ocean Marine (Boat) insurance, and the 1944 case ruling cited above is NOT part of the Constitution in any way. So HOW is that portion of the HCRAP legislation cited to be constitutional? What a lame example.

Keep ripping on the Tea Party - at least this group has SOME principles, not simply a "LET'S GET THIS PASSED BECAUSE, BECAUSE, BECAUSE......I LIKE IT". That's how most liberals seem to feel and they LOVE when it's the judiciary that rewrites the laws of the land. They hated when Bush passed ANYTHING by executive order, but they have no problem when Obama does it. At least they could TRY to avoid the appearance of severe hypocrisy.

We all know the Constitution was written over 200 years ago and cannot possibly have been crafted to envision today's society. But we also all know that the Framers' intent for our Republic relied heavily on separation of powers and government BY THE PEOPLE - not to include legislation crafted and passed by an egocentric group of 220 House members and 55 senators against the will of 2/3 of the populace.

Posted by: awolfson | December 30, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

octopi213:
"Indeed the health care act tried to constitutionally justify itself, and upon reading said justification, the GOP concluded, correctly, that the it didn't pass constituional muster."

So what you're saying is that Grassley et al were all in favor of it, and then they read the Consitution (for the first time?) and suddenly realized how wrong they were?

And why do you say "correctly"?

Posted by: presto668

I can't speak for Mr. Grassley and why he decided to switch his view. There isn't a single politician with whom I agree with 100% of the time. Indeed I vehemently disagree with Mr. Grassley's steadfast support of wasteful corn subsidies. This provision isn't necessarily for the congressmembers because they don't write or even read their bills. It's for those who's job (or hobby) it is to actually read the bills and evaluate them, so they can more easily identify a BS justification.

As for the word "correctly" I was stating my opinion, just like everyone else in this space. I suppose since you disagree with me this is problematic?

Posted by: octopi213 | December 30, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

arancia12: The "people" in the primary clause of the 2nd Amendment are the same "people" in the 1st Amendment. Why do you want to take a position that limits the definition of "people"?

Posted by: ElmerStoup
_____________

You have me at a loss, Sir. Where did I advocate limiting the definition of "people?"

If people bear arms and those people who choose to are part of a militia, then it is to be well regulated.

What part of this confuses you?

Posted by: arancia12 | December 30, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Challenging the intellect of a conservative is really humorous and telling us we are too stupid to vote? In Virginia the local officials wanted to do away with the party affiliation on the local ballots; guess what, the Dems revolted because if the [D] was not in front of the candidates name the blacks did not know to vote for them;; what a laugher you lib nerds. stepped in it again didn't you.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

arancia12: The "people" have a right to keep and bear arms. The subordinate clause mentioning a militia is at best an explanation why the people should have this right.

Please realize many liberals, including Professor Lawrence Tribe and even a blogger on Daily Kos, have come around this understanding of the 2nd Amendment. It's mostly the "guns-are-icky" crowd that still doesn't get it.

Posted by: ElmerStoup | December 30, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

The real demographics of voter capabilities;
Conservative; all voters included; earn more and have more education than Dem/libs, they are engaged and aware of the issues.
Dems/libs; 20% of the voters are engaged and dictate to the uneducated how to vote; 80% are unaware of issues and unable to read.
Stop the ignorant demagoguery you inept manipulators.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

What does the Tea Party truly want.


Look no further than a teapot on every stove and two tea-baggers in every pot.

Go figure

Posted by: chamateddy | December 30, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

From a bonehead who thinks the Constitution is "confusing" because it was "written one hundred years ago" and is old....

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/12/30/wapos_ezra_klein_constitution_confusing_because_it_is_old.html

Ezra, get a job at which you're competent.

Posted by: OttoDog | December 30, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Who cares what some political judge rules. Right is ring, and wrong is wrong. Do you really beleive that these politicians and judges are honest?

Posted by: Prof-Dr-G | December 30, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Many of the comments here are downright laughable.

As far as I can tell none of the comments about what the constitution says or means appear to be constitutional scholars. and I'm not going to present myself as one.

For one thing the primary author of the Constitution was James Madison. He embraced many of the philosophies brought forth during the Age of Reason (also known as the Age of Enlightenment) I recommend all of you at least read summaries of those phol0ophies. you will find the the philosophies were extremely radical for the times. Along with Jefferson Franklin, he was part of the well educated, and wealthy, "elite".

Skins119r. I'm sorry, but your interpretation of the 2nd amendment is not as definitive as you would like to believe. At the time it was written, there was no National Guard or a standing army. Well regulated means just that. Regulated that there are definite rules to follow, leaders, etc. It does not mean a group of people who do not like the current political system.

Also skins911r, You are correct in saying that the Constitution, as written, does not permit slavery, but it also doesn't explicitly say abortion is illegal.

The Constitution is a broadly written document that is subject to interpretation. Madison vs Marbury established that the Supreme Court is the final arbitrator of what is or is not Constitutional. Not you, not me, not Congress, not radio, TV, and press commentators.

Posted by: sfspec | December 30, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

The redundant lib-speak about conservatives being bigots in regards to "wanting their social security/medicare benefits" is an open window to the stupidity of government clones; We paid in to the government ssi taxes every week or every paycheck; we paid in to the medicare plan every week or every paycheck we had no option to get out; it was a law. The government in turn used the money for all kinds of unrelated entitlements and oh lest we forget paid a whopping [1%] to us. Now someone tell me how much does a person getting EBT transfers monthly, getting housing assistance, getting income assistance and WIC ,BLAH BLAH BLAH; how much have they paid in? 98% of blacks do not pay taxes. You libs are ignorant socio-paths.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Like it or not, whimpering Lefties, the new Congress was largely elected by Tea Party Movement supporters.

Not only did the Republicans capture 63 House seats & 6 Senate seats, it also captured with the momentum of the Tea Party Movement a dozen governorships and 780 seats in state legislatures. If that waan't a political tsunami & rejection of the Left's agenda by the American people, just wait until '12 & the Left's going to get soaked again

Posted by: LoachDriver | December 30, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

labernosky;; not only has your lib potus not retracted any of the Bush policies he has expanded them; get your head out of your ass and breath.

Posted by: Nobama11 | December 30, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

It's amusing that the leftwing Rimjobbers look to Ezra Klein, who is about 20 years old, for insight into the Constitution.

Posted by: Roark_ | December 30, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein completely misses the point w.r.t.this effort. Indeed the health care act tried to constitutionally justify itself, and upon reading said justification, the GOP concluded, correctly, that the it didn't pass constituional muster.

Posted by: octopi213

No, u miss the point. U do realize that you proved Mr. Kliens point perfectly by the above statement regarding constitutionality?

Did u even read the article?

Posted by: Chops2 | December 30, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Nowhere in the Constitution does it give the United States the right to buy Alaska from Russia. Give it, and Sarah Palin, back to Russia!

Posted by: randy28146 | December 30, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you think that by providing that sort of "each side does it" balance, you remain "above the fray" and "intellectually nuanced" somehow. What you do, though, is overlook the real differences and obscure the real argument. When people on the Right "push the envelope" of the constitution, it's usually to favor the individual at the expense of the govt. Which is perfectly in line with "the penumbra" of documents from the founders surrounding the constitution... the entire framework of the document was contrived for this very reason, to empower the individual and limit the govt. When Progressives play "a little fast and loose" with their interpretations, it's usually to circumvent something that is preventing them from doing what they want... something which is usually in total opposition of the founder's intent: more govt, more regulation, less freedom.

Republicans have a "wide" interpretation of the 2nd ammendment because it gives more people freedom and serves as a warning to bigger govt types. (The ultimate failsafe clause if there ever was one). All of that is in line with the founders. When the Progressives have a narrow interpretation of the ammendment, its because they ultimately want to refuse individuals these rights in some way, or restrict them. That is clearly not what the founders intended.

Being Progressive yourself, you have no problem blurring the difference.

Posted by: prof_robinson | December 30, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

@lindalovejones: My God, you're daft. Those dreaded teabaggers want it read not for them, but for YOU - the regressive democRATS - who they feel don't quite understand where the guard rails are. Which, it would seem, you do not.

Posted by: prof_robinson | December 30, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

The Second Amendment was intended to support the security of a free state. It is the right of the people as a militia to keep and bear arms to provide that security.

The Second Amendment right is a sensible follow-up for the "right of the people," spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, to institute government as a free state in the first place.

The people who create republican government are those who are qualified as voters. Those who defend it are those who are qualified by being capable of bearing arms (i.e., capable of military service) in a well regulated militia.

Posted by: leifrakur2 | December 30, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

It reads, for those with no reading comprehension deficit:
"...Section 8
"...To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;.."
"...Amendment II.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

"...according to the discipline prescribed by Congress."


Posted by: denim39 | December 30, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Here is my idea: The Supreme Court justices, wearing black and white striped robes, stand on the floor of Congress and call fouls. C-span could add a new channel with a camera focused solely on the new Congressional penalty box.

Posted by: veritasinmedium | December 30, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

This sums it up!

http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2010/12/the-constitution-is-very-important.html

Posted by: fpcooper1 | December 30, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

lindalovejones is right. The tea partiers have obviously not read the Constitution yet. But at least their members in the House are going to do so when the new Congress convenes. I think the plan is that doing so will be their first order of business. So we can rest easily now.

Posted by: Dan Adcock | December 30, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

lindalovejones is right. The tea partiers have obviously not read the Constitution yet. But at least their members in the House are going to do so when the new Congress convenes. I think the plan is that doing so will be their first order of business. So we can rest easily now.

Posted by: Dan Adcock | December 30, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

lindalovejones is right. The tea partiers have obviously not read the Constitution yet. But at least their members in the House are going to do so when the new Congress convenes. I think the plan is that doing so will be their first order of business. So we can rest easily now.

Posted by: Dan Adcock | December 30, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Nice dodge, Ezra.

The question isn't if the SCOTUS says it's Constitutional, the question is: which specific enumerated power in the Constitution grants Congress the power to enact the legislation?

I would go further and ask in addition: please explain how enactment of the proposed bill complies with the requirements of the Tenth Amendment?

Care to try again?

Posted by: fgoodwin | December 30, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Of course and because it is more than 100 years old no one can understand it anyway. How lame is that Ezra? Did you get any sort of education. I read Shakespeare Milton and many authors of earlier than Constitution vintage. It isn't so hard to understand their writing. The Constitution is actually quite straight forward.

But to your question: By citing the constitutional authority the courts can either validate it or laugh in its face like they will be for Obamakill.

Posted by: aloysius1 | December 30, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

That ol' Constitution. So last century. I forget, which century? I always confuse the 18th, 19th and 20th.

Posted by: Skipper50 | December 30, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

That ol' Constitution. So last century. I forget, which century? I always confuse the 18th, 19th and 20th.

Posted by: Skipper50 | December 30, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I am so tired of right wingers who have no idea what the second amendment is actually about. Please read Federalist 29 and then try to convince anyone with a straight face that the second amendment is not primarily about militias.

Posted by: fishman2 | December 30, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Congress can pass any law. It is not up to Congress to determine the Constitutionality of a law, that is up to the Court. Just more proof teabaggers are clueless imbeciles.

Posted by: fishman2 | December 30, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I like the way that Girlymen Liberals refer to members of the Tea Pary as Tea Baggers, an obvious sexually oriented slur.

Perhaps we should refer to these Liberal Cretins as Nut Suckers, a term obviously more fitting for folks unable to come to grips with individual responsibility.

Posted by: mmcmain42 | December 30, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I am interested in hearing the constitutional argument for maintaining armed forces in combat and the constant expenditure of national resources on military weapons, absent a declaration of war?

Posted by: risejugger | December 30, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I like the way that Girlymen Liberals refer to members of the Tea Pary as Tea Baggers, an obvious sexually oriented slur.

Perhaps we should refer to these Liberal Cretins as Nut Suckers, a term obviously more fitting for folks unable to come to grips with individual responsibility.

Posted by: mmcmain42 | December 30, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

I like the way that Girlymen Liberals refer to members of the Tea Pary as Tea Baggers, an obvious sexually oriented slur.

Perhaps we should refer to these Liberal Cretins as Nut Suckers, a term obviously more fitting for folks unable to come to grips with individual responsibility.

Posted by: mmcmain42 | December 30, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

fishman2: Could you be more explicit why FP 29 directly pertains to the 2nd Amendment's operative clause that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?

It is my understanding that it was published on 1-10-1788 as part of the effort to persuade the States to ratify the original Constitution. The Bill of Rights was not proposed until 4-1-1789.

FP 29 seems much more concerned about the relationship of the federal government and the state militias, not an individual right of the people to keep and bear arms. You seem to have forgotten a major impetus behind the Bill of Rights, that the federal government would take away individual rights.

Posted by: ElmerStoup | December 30, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution is very straightforward. Get a copy.

Human nature has not changed in 200 years, only technology has.
Examples...

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

This is extremely clear. You cannot be free if you cannot defend your State, or yourself individually. This is a country of free individuals. We should all be able to carry firearms anywhere we go. If fact, if everyone who wanted to carry a gun did, there would be less crime since it is difficult to violate an armed person.

The TSA violates this daily:
Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The fact is, if more people actually did READ the Constitution, the more people would realize that their own government violates it to an extreme degree.

When was the last time you used gold and silver as currency? Read Article 1, Sections 8 and 10. If we had been only using gold and silver coin minted by the Congress to pay our debts and save our money - there would have been no Great Depression or Great Recession. That is the consequence of ignorance, cowardice, and apathy.

Read on, sweet GOP and TEA PARTY.

Posted by: robinsoncom | December 30, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein completely misses the point w.r.t.this effort. Indeed the health care act tried to constitutionally justify itself, and upon reading said justification, the GOP concluded, correctly, that the it didn't pass constituional muster.

Posted by: octopi213

No, u miss the point. U do realize that you proved Mr. Kliens point perfectly by the above statement regarding constitutionality?

Did u even read the article?

Posted by: Chops2

Actually you have just showed you did not comprehend Mr. Klein's post, nor my critique. He tried to use the health care bill as an example of how citing the relevant constitutional clause didn't matter, since objections were raised anyway. I posited that because the bill included such a clause, it was easier to identify the misapplication of the constitutional powers by the bill's authors, thus leading to quicker court challenges. You also clearly did not read my subsequent posts where I point out the potential positive of this rule that would force authors to defend the constitutionality of their bills.

Posted by: octopi213 | December 30, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Conservatives, Tea Partiers and the like know full well that the Supreme Court has the authority and duty to determine the constitutionality of a given law brought before them. This suggested Republican requirement is not the final arbiter of constitutionality, just an effort to help reduce unconstitutional laws in the first place.

The huge problem, to conservatives (and it should be to liberals alike) is that there are thousands of laws passed each year by Congress, but for practical purposes, only a handful can ever get to the Supreme Court for a decision as to its constitutionality.

Therefore, with thousands of progressive (small p) laws (see the Federal Register) and millions of following regulatory decisions having accrued over the course of our nation's history, this incredible total includes a large percentage that usurp the powers of the People but never get to be argued in court, and therefore remaining as law, leading to government more and more in control and power just because of the sheer volume of laws, as well as their particulars. The founders did the best they could, but I don't believe (my opinion) they ever thought about the volume problem above giving effective power to progressive ideas through sheer volume.

Posted by: Art11 | December 30, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Conservatives, Tea Partiers and the like know full well that the Supreme Court has the authority and duty to determine the constitutionality of a given law brought before them. This suggested Republican requirement is not the final arbiter of constitutionality, just an effort to help reduce unconstitutional laws in the first place.

The huge problem, to conservatives (and it should be to liberals alike) is that there are thousands of laws passed each year by Congress, but for practical purposes, only a handful can ever get to the Supreme Court for a decision as to its constitutionality.

Therefore, with thousands of progressive (small p) laws (see the Federal Register) and millions of following regulatory decisions having accrued over the course of our nation's history, this incredible total includes a large percentage that usurp the powers of the People but never get to be argued in court, and therefore remaining as law, leading to government more and more in control and power just because of the sheer volume of laws, as well as their particulars. The founders did the best they could, but I don't believe (my opinion) they ever thought about the volume problem above giving effective power to progressive ideas through sheer volume.

Posted by: Art11 | December 30, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Grand job editing the "written more than 100 years ago" to "written more than 200 years ago" without acknowledgement. Speaks volumes for the intellectual depth - and, given the lack of notice for the correction, honesty - of the author.

Posted by: wiredogusmc | December 30, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

The Court also ruled that a farmer's produce for his own consumption may be regulated by Congress:
"The wheat marketing quota and attendant penalty provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, as amended by the Act of May 26, 1941, when applied to wheat not intended in any part for commerce but wholly for consumption on the farm, are within the commerce power of Congress."
That, my friends, is Absurd!

Posted by: starsfan22 | December 31, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm. It never says in the Constitution that the world is 6,000 years old. How will the fundys deal with that?

Posted by: braultrl | December 31, 2010 12:38 AM | Report abuse

I don't care what dribble Congress adds to the bottom of any legislation. In the end as to whether what congress passes is constitutional or not will be decided by the court system if so challenged. Stop wasting your time quibbling about it.

Posted by: 08ultraclassic | December 31, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein, I take your point, to a limited extent, about the pointlessness of requiring a citation of Constitutional authority for a piece of legislation in the face of the rabid partisanship that currently seems to grip us. However, I must differ with you to the extent that you sneer at any effort to rein in the powers of government. I have elsewhere noted to my conservative friends what I have (perhaps conceitedly) dubbed Doyle's Law: "Never give to a John Ashcroft the power and authority you would not give to a Janet Reno, because, sure as hell, an Eric Holder will end up wielding that power."

However, I must object to your implied rejection of the concept of vetting legislation for Constitutionality. We simply have to read the Constitution, read, study, and recognize the context in which it was written, then extrapolate from that, bearing in mind how our lexicon might have changed in the interim and allowing for that (in favor of the original, rather than ignoring what have changed in the interim and discarding the orighinal).

Let me re-emphasize that last: *in favor of the original.* It's not that difficult ro interpret Constitutional intent - all you have to do is to read Locke and Burke, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers... Of course, you'll also need to consider the language of the day, and how we've attached different nuances to the original meanings in the interim.

Simple, yes? But, as von Clausewitz observed about warfare, "...Everything is very simple, but the simplest things become difficult..." How much more so in trying to resolve political differences, I marvel...

{More to follow}

Posted by: mikedoyle_penname | December 31, 2010 1:38 AM | Report abuse

Stamp your feet journalism ... get used to it ...

Posted by: cunn9305 | December 31, 2010 2:36 AM | Report abuse

so klein and his crowd are skeeered of the real Americans and our freedom as guaranteed by the private ownership of our guns .............. cuz klein is upset that the real Americans dont abide by the liberals disregard for the constituion and the liberals know that if it continues, then we will act to start a revolution and stop the liberal attack on American way of life

Posted by: M_Algore | December 31, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

The Tea Party movement began for a reason, rein in government by bringing back the principals of our Founding Fathers. We are fed up with the status quo. Can one only imagine what our great nation would be like if we followed this wonderful document called The Constitution? And by the way, lets throw in the 10 Commandments along with it.
I applaud the GOP for their "radical" suggestion to actually read something and understand what it means. If one takes the oath to protect the Constitution, then for God's sake be smart enough to a) understand it's meaning, and b) actually live up the oath!

Posted by: MaryKay-California | December 31, 2010 2:44 AM | Report abuse

By the way Mr. Klein, need a copy of the Constitution to read for yourself? Sounds like you need a refresher course! The American Center for Law and Justice will be happy to send you and Nancy Pelosi a copy. She too needs to be schooled on this wonderful document.

Posted by: MaryKay-California | December 31, 2010 2:56 AM | Report abuse

By the way Mr. Klein, need a copy of the Constitution to read for yourself? Sounds like you need a refresher course! The American Center for Law and Justice will be happy to send you and Nancy Pelosi a copy. She too needs to be schooled on this wonderful document.

Posted by: MaryKay-California | December 31, 2010 2:56 AM | Report abuse


You know what You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by searching online for "Wise Health Insurance" If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: markandersone | December 31, 2010 3:44 AM | Report abuse

You mean it's what the Koch brothers want .........
The "Tea Party Express" rules.

Posted by: bkarpus | December 31, 2010 5:25 AM | Report abuse

The Constitution isn't clear? I suppose it isn't ... if you don't know how to read simple, declarative English language sentences. And somehow Ezra Klein appears to be among those who can't (or more likely, won't) read clear English. The computer models at the school where I teach say that the Constitution is written to the 11th grade reading level.

Mr. Klein says the Second Amendment only guarantees "organized militia" the right to keep and bear arms? He apparently doesn't know that the militia was then (and legally still is) every able bodied man.

The a mandate to buy health insurance on those not buying it falls under Congress' power to regulate "commerce among the states"? This is clearly a dishonest "interpretation" of the plain meaning of the words in the Constitution. To say that not engaging in commerce is regulatable as commerce under the Constitution is to say that Congress can do ANYTHING. It makes the whole concept of delegated powers pointless. Why would the founders have given Congress have the additional powers to regulate banks and bankruptcies, grant patents and copyrights, etc., if everything under the sun fell under the commerce clause? It would have been a complete waste of words, something that the founders didn't often do. James Madison noted in 1792 on the floor of Congress that:

"It would be absurd to say, first, that Congress may do what they please, and then that they may do this or that particular thing; after giving Congress power to raise money, and apply it to all purposes which they may pronounce necessary to the general welfare, it would be absurd, to say the least, to super add a power to raise armies, to provide fleets, &c. In fact, the meaning of the general terms in question must either be sought in the subsequent enumeration which limits and details them, or they convert the Government from one limited, as hitherto supposed, to the enumerated powers, into a Government without any limits at all."

If we actually followed the U.S. Constitution, rather than pretended we couldn't understand a document written to the 11th grade reading level (as Mr. Klein does), then we certainly wouldn't be in a situation where we have a budget deficit approaching 10 percent of GDP or a debt approaching 100 percent of GDP.

Posted by: tomeddlem | December 31, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Here's why this rationalization of a blatantly nonsensical statement doesn't work:
The Constitution did not say any more or less, and was no more or less comprehensible, on the question of keeping a gun in the home if you're not signed up with a militia in 1789 than it said in 1989 or in 2010: In short, it said then (and has not changed) that the right to "keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Keeping (maybe you don't understand that word, or implication) is about having it in one's home or anywhere else one wants, not about having it issued to you when being provisioned for a militia action; the 2nd Amendment says absolutely nothing about a requirement or anything else about whether one is or not a member of a militia.

This is not a "broad interpretation," it is a narrow, literal and grammatically and historically provable meaning. It is not an "interpretation."

Is that just a poor example because of your selectively poor comprehension of English or your ignorance of history? No. Saying that the Constitution doesn't speak to historical circumstances it didn't envision is nonsense. It didn't "speak directly to the questions we ask it" any more or less in 1789 or 1889 or 1989 or 2010. Nothing about rocket ships or nationwide computer networks is any less directly spoken to than were steamboats and postal systems. For your information: There was insurance in 1789.

The Constitution is clear. Citing Supreme Court precedents that were themselves quite obviously wrong about the Constitution, and not actually interpretations but rewritings based not on interpretation of unclear clauses but on bald assertion of power, does nothing to show that there is some uncertainty or legitimacy about the individual mandate in the health care bill.

This is not something your "friends on the right just don't want to hear." It's simply your use of a general and vague claim that is baldly false, as a rationalization for specific violations of the Constitution.

Posted by: d1stewart | December 31, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I don't care who is elected to Congress this term, there will be some bills that are about as justifiable as selling illegal drugs in church in the name of God.

Posted by: luvmtains | December 31, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Of all of the retardo ideas offered up b the teatards, this has got to be the dumbest. This is just the sort of preachy, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou attitude that turned people against the Religious Right back in the 90s. They strut about like their flatulence emits a floral fragrance, posturing as constitutional experts when in reality they have a very limited understanding of constitutional law or the history of Judicial Review.

This is the equivalent of your 5 year old lecturing you on his vast experience in life.

Posted by: jaxas70 | December 31, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Tell us something we don't already know! The tea party and its peculiar beliefs are already well understood and talked about altogether too much. I would like the MSM to forget about them. Their is no benefit to be had from continuing to publish stories about their poor behavior or misbegotten ideas. Its like giving a spoiled child the attention his misbehavior is intended to provoke.

Posted by: tryreason | December 31, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The Tea Party is in for a colossal let down. Why? Well for one thing, there simply is no "correct" way of interpreting the Constitution any more than there is of defining God. It is all a matter of what you believe to be the "correct" method and then getting a sufficient number of your fellow citizens to accept that method and enforce and implement through our electoral system.

But look. Even if the Tea Party had been successful in November in replacing every single legislator with someone who proclaims loyalty to them, they would still be stuck with this problem of interpretation. They could pass all manner of legislation they deem "constitutional" but once someone out there disagrees, and there will be plenty of those, a claim will be born and that claim will ultimately rise to the High Court who will decide whether their legislation is constitutional or not.

Oh, you didn't realize that we have a Supreme Court, set up for the very intent of resolving disputes about the "correct" interpretation of the Constitution? Look. None of this will make any difference whatever. Eventually, some smart constitutional scholar is going to bring a claim that Congress is trying to usurp the power of the Judiciary and that will be the end of that.

Posted by: jaxas70 | December 31, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I find some of Mr. Klein's critics here vapid and flat out silly in their comments. One says the Constitution is written in simple, declarative sentences not even realizing I suppose that there are even disputes over what constitutes a "simple, declarative sentence". Fair enough. Then what about this simple declarative, sentence: "...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." Or this one: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"? Yet how many times have we heard Sarah Pa;in and Glenn Beck make "simple, declarative statements" that anyone running for the office of President should publicly state their belief in Christianity?

Look. If, the Constitution were as clear, as definitive and as filled with simple declarative sentences as many on this blog would have us believe, then why do we have need of a Supreme Court dedicated to constantly reviewing the Constitution and and our legislation and rendering decisions resolving disputes on what these "simple, declarative sentences" mean?

I hardly think the Founders would have gone to the trouble of establishing a third Branch of government had they been confident that the Constitution had clear unambiguous meanings in its various phrases, sentences, words and declarations.

Posted by: jaxas70 | December 31, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Article V of the Constitution allows the constitution to be amended in 2 ways.

method one :
2/3 of both houses propose an amendment and then send it either to the state legislatures or a state convention for ratification by 3/4 of the states.

This is known as the Consent Clause.
The Federal government can not change the rules or scope of their powers without consent from the states.

Method 2 :
The states apply for an Article V convention. After the convention whatever amendments they propose Congress then either sends to be ratified by State legislature or State convention.

This is called the Federalism Clause.
the STATES can amend the Constitution WITHOUT consent from the Federal Government.

This is because :
1 ) Congress cannot deny a convention. If 34 similar applications are received they MUST call it.
2 ) Congress cannot refuse to forward what comes from the convention to the States for ratification. They only get to decide whether convention or legislature.

There is a 3rd point, which hasn't been pointed out as much.
Nowhere ... NOWHERE in Article V does it give Congress the RIGHT to know what amendments would be considered.

And as any competent attorney would tell you ... if they have no right to know it ... do not offer it.

The application for an Article V convention should be ...
"The State legislature of XXXX hereby applies to Congress to schedule a Convention for considering amendments as directed by Article V of the Constitution of the United States."

When Congress asks what amendments say "none of your business".
When Congress says "well then this isn't valid", sue.
When the US Supreme court rules in your favor, require Congress to compile ALL application for an Article V together regardless of proposed amendment.
Since they have no right to know ... they have no right to separate the applications for that reason.

There are currently over a hundred valid applications for an Article V convention from 48 states ( lots of balanced budget and lots of electoral college from the 2000 election ).

That means Congress, since they have no right to know what amendment is being considered, already is technically guilty of unconstitutionally depriving the states of their right.

Which is final point.
Citizens have rights.
States have rights.
The Federal government has no rights. Only enumerated powers and responsibilities.

Posted by: chromenhawk | December 31, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Quite frankly, any government that is bothered by having to show from where it derives the power to do something it is trying to do, is in need of as much bothering as humanly possible.

Posted by: INTJ | December 31, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

A historic reality that few recognize today is that the Constitution of 1787 was created to strengthen the federal government, not to weaken it. Our first constitution, the Articles of Confederation of 1777 provided for a weak federal government, and it failed to meet the problems of the times. The Constitution of 1787 created a federal government with many increased powers. e.g. to tax, assume debts, regulate interstate commerce,and the "implied clause" left these powers to be decided within the system of checks and balances set up in the same Constitution.
We also forget that the Constitution of 1787 was unpopular at the time, especially with states' rights advocates. That opposition gave rise to the Bill of Rights as a check on the Constitution of 1787. And so the seeds of endless debate. The test of self government is whether we can discuss our difference in a rational manner, and compromise our differences. For example, Jefferson compromised with Hamilton over the creation of a national bank, even though it was not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. Sorry to say, we have more in common today with the Civil War generation and the founders' generation.

Posted by: jjnewmn | December 31, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

jaxas70 wrote: "how many times have we heard Sarah Pa;in and Glenn Beck make 'simple, declarative statements' that anyone running for the office of President should publicly state their belief in Christianity?"

Even if this oversimplification were true, surely you are not so dim that you cannot see the inherent difference between a legal test for qualification, or passage of federal legislation, and someone's opinion (to which the First Amendment entitles them)?

He also says "I hardly think the Founders would have gone to the trouble of establishing a third Branch of government had they been confident that the Constitution had clear unambiguous meanings in its various phrases, sentences, words and declarations."

Quite the opposite, actually. The Founders did not mention judicial review in the Constitution; the Supreme Court actually had to assume that power itself in Marbury v. Madison, precisely because the Founders did not believe the federal government could even engage in questionable activity. Indeed, many felt the Bill of Rights to be superfluous because they felt the Constitution was clear and constraining; after all, if Congress was not granted the power to limit free speech, why would they need a restriction prohibiting it?

For people like Ezra and you, apparently, who seem to think the U.S. government has constitutional authority to do whatever it thinks is a good idea at the time, whether that power is delegated to it or not.

"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."
- 9th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Posted by: INTJ | December 31, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

diamond2 pompously declares: "The first thing the 'tea partiers' need to do is read the Constitution. They need to read Article I, Section 8 (the powers of Congress). Then they need to understand each and every clause, especially Art. I, Section 8, Paragraph 14 (Necessary and Proper Clause). Then they can open their mouths and talk. Not before."

Right. I'd suggest he and Ezra read the clause over again, because it only empowers Congress "to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

In other words, the Constitution must clearly state that the U.S. government has the power to do something, before the N&P clause allows Congress to pass a law doing it. In still other words, "I do not think it means what you think it means."

Posted by: INTJ | December 31, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Just because the govt. has the right to regulate it doesn't mean you have to buy insurance. There is no other product the government requires you to buy, nor does the commerce clause permit it. don't give me the car insurance bit, I don't own a car.

Posted by: richardch_2 | December 31, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. Constitution is, quite literally, the foundation of this country; through it all subsequent laws and regulations and the actions of our executive branch are legitimized; through it we have a rule of law. We can know what our legislators and executives may and may not do, we know what laws are legitimate and which are not.

Without it, we have a rule of men, where no citizen can know if an action is legal or not and our lives are subject to the whim of the bureaucrats and judges. Congress passes a law saying that action X is illegal. Is this right and proper? Do they have the authority to do this? With the Constitution, we know; without it we do not.

The Constitution is not particularly hard to read, the Founders wrote it in very plain English. The key is to take it at its face value, and remember that yes - sorry, Mr. President - the primary purpose of the Constitution is to say what the Federal Government may not do. It may not censure my political speech, it may not take away my personal arms, it may not infringe on the rights of the states, etc. Remember that the Founders were quite familiar with the actions of tyrants and were trying to avoid another King George.

What the TEA Party wants is really quite simple: we want to return to a rule of law, where the Federal Government is once again limited by the Constitution. We wish to move away from the arbitrary rule of men, where no citizen may know if an action is right or wrong until some bureaucrat or judge says so. The former is a government of free people, the latter is the realm of tyrants. We also recognize (TEA actually stands for "Taxed Enough Already") that the proper purpose of taxation is to fund the legitimate actions of the government, not social engineering - and we have long since passed the upper side of the Laffer curve where increased taxes yield increased revenue.

Mr. Klein, and many of the commenters here, seem to think that Congress can simply pass any law that seems like a good idea at the time. They cannot, and if they should find themselves able to do so we are doomed.

Posted by: pblase | December 31, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein asks:
"Has that statement convinced the GOP that the individual mandate is constitutional? Of course not." of the insurance mandate. A deliberate misrepresentation. Insurance - when it crosses state lines - is legitimately a subject of Federal Government scrutiny; however the Federal Government does not have the authority to force any citizen to purchase any good or service. Insurance is a private contract between an individual and the insurance provider, and the Federal Government does not have the authority to force any individual to enter such a contract.

(And please don't cite auto insurance as a precedent. First of all, remembering the 10th amendment, mandatory auto insurance is mandated by the State governments, not the Federal. Secondly, you are quite free to not purchase auto insurance even in those states that require it - so long as you also forgo the privilege of driving.)

Posted by: pblase | December 31, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Mr Klein says:
"My friends on the right don't like to hear this, but the Constitution is not a clear document. Written more than 200 years ago, when America had 13 states and very different problems, it rarely speaks directly to the questions we ask it. The Second Amendment, for instance, says nothing about keeping a gun in the home if you've not signed up with a "well-regulated militia," but interpreting the Second Amendment broadly has been important to those who want to bear arms. And so they've done it."

This is only difficult to understand if you are trying to look for an excuse to take citizen's arms away from them. If you read the Federalist Papers and the other background material supporting the Constitution as amended, you will realize that the Founders had three issues in mind: having sufficient men who knew how to handle weapons available in case calling up the Army was required; to allow citizens arms required for hunting and for self defense; and to provide for a final check on the powers of the governments - Federal and State - through an armed citizenry.

(BTW, "arms" refers specifically to those weapons and tools carried by the average infantry soldier: swords, knives, pistols, and rifles/muskets. Cannon, grenades, etc are properly "ordnance")

Reading the Second amendment is quite simple: the government is not authorized to keep me from owning and limited in keeping me from carrying any personal arm. Period.

(I might also point out that the first action of any tyranny is to confiscate the arms of the citizens.)

Posted by: pblase | December 31, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"In reality, the tea party -- like most everyone else -- is less interested in living by the Constitution than in deciding what it means to live by the Constitution. When the constitutional disclaimers at the bottom of bills suit them, they'll respect them. When they don't -- as we've seen in the case of the individual mandate -- they won't."

Only a liberal who doesn't respect the rule of law would say such a thing. The purpose of the required justification is to attempt to get Congress to think about the laws that it is passing and whether or not it is allows to do so. If any conservative congress person attempts to submit a bill that is NOT in accordance with the Constitutional limitations on the powers and authority of Congress than Mr. Klein is quite welcome to bring attention to the fact. We will come down on said congress-critter just as hard or harder than him.

Posted by: pblase | December 31, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

agasaya1:

"Apparently there's been talk about limiting judicial terms of office so judges can be 'voted' for by citizens instead of appointed by elected officials."

Yes, so what? The proper role of a judge - even, especially, one on the Supreme Court - is to interpret the law. Under no circumstances can a judge make law, this is the proper role of the legislature. Any judge that feels justified in making law or policy, for instance by citing laws of other countries or policies of the UN or by ruling according to policies of "social justice", should be removed from office.

"Hmmm, if the Constitution is the guiding light of judges, it shouldn't matter what party they belong to in reaching verdicts and reviewing lower court decisions.

Yep. Technically, there should be no difference between a "liberal" and a "conservative" judge. However, in reality, "liberal" judges tend to turn to things other than the law and precedent when making their rulings.

"The Tea Party wants to weaken the Federal Government and must remove federal programs like the SSA to do so."

Yep. The Federal Government has become too powerful and gone well beyond its Constitutional mandates. It is now a threat to the citizenry. As for SSA, where is the Constitutional authority for this program?

"Every time medicare and medicaid funds cross state lines, medical care becomes a function of interstate commerce that Congress can regulate."

And where is the Constitutional authority for these programs? Are they really there to help people, or are they primarily mechanisms for increasing social control?

Posted by: pblase | December 31, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

reach4astar2
"I'm pretty sure that the constitutionality of each bill is considered by Congress' legal counsel during the drafting process. "

You obviously haven't been paying much attention, then. Quite a bit of recent legislation is not only not authorized by the Constitution, it is contrary to it.

Posted by: pblase | December 31, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

arancia12

Actually, the 2nd Amendment is extremely clear.
....

Posted by: lug21 |
_______________________

So you completely disregard the first part about a well regulated militia. Why are some words in the 2nd Amendment worth reading and others aren't?

....

Christ, you conservatives certainly pick and choose what words are to be heeded and what words ignored. That is what makes the entire Constitution murky.

-------

Just read the 2nd amendment at face value, and with a little bit of grammatical knowledge. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, ..." is explanation and justification, not a qualifier. As mentioned above, the Founders wanted the Army to have a pool of men to chose from who knew how to handle weapons (a situation that is still valid, BTW). However it in no way impacts the last part of the statement: "...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Nothing in the Amendment says that anyone MUST be in the militia - although it was presumed that most men would be; nothing in there says that in order to bear arms one must be in the militia.

Posted by: pblase | December 31, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

The entire premise is faulty because it fails to recognize the concept of limited government. Mr. Klein needs to read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist. Congress has no plenary power nor any general police power (reserved to the states). Congress's power is limited to that granted under Article I.

The reference to the Second Amendment ignores both the plain language (the right of the people to bear arms) and the historical context (18th century militias were composed of civilians who brought their own arms when mustered).

If ignorance is bliss, then Ezra Klein must be supremely happy.

Posted by: slingshotwilly | December 31, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

The entire premise is faulty because it fails to recognize the concept of limited government. Mr. Klein needs to read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist. Congress has no plenary power nor any general police power (reserved to the states). Congress's power is limited to that granted under Article I.

The reference to the Second Amendment ignores both the plain language (the right of the people to bear arms) and the historical context (18th century militias were composed of civilians who brought their own arms when mustered).

If ignorance is bliss, then Ezra Klein must be supremely happy.

Posted by: slingshotwilly | December 31, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I find it unsettling that Liberals think that the Constitution is a living document that can be interpreted to reflect the present times instead of being interpreted to reflect what the Founding Fathers meant it to mean when it was drawn up. The only way the Constitution itself allows itself to be changed is by amendment - either by Congress submitting an amendment to the states for ratification or by the states calling for a Constitutional Convention. The Constitution DOES NOT allow for reinterpretation! If you, or some judge, don't like what the Constitution says or what the Founding Fathers meant when they wrote it, then AMEND it. It has been amended many times already and every time ratified by the states. That method apparently work pretty well. Much better than some having some judge "amend" it.

Much was written that allows us to learn what our Founders were thinking.

Posted by: jimkremsreiter | December 31, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Until we deal with bureaucrats writing "regulations" in violation of the Bill of Rights, most of this argument is moot. Example: TSA regulations requiring citizens to be irradiated or groped in violation of the 4th Amendment guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure.

Posted by: beth-wade | January 1, 2011 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Ezra:-) After reading this article, I can only conclude that you are intellectually impaired.

Posted by: DQuixote1 | January 1, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Klein needs to update his beliefs. The Supreme Court under Heller clarifies the 2nd Amendment after a century of leftist bastardization. It means exactly what he thinks it does not mean, and always has: it protects an individual's right to keep and bear arms. If the language of the 2nd Amendment is not enough for you, read the Federalist papers, many of which directly address the Founders intentions. Then please come back here and admit you are wrong.

Posted by: TheLastBrainLeft | January 1, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

re: lindalovejones

Thank you for pointing out that Congress is only doing it's job when it passes laws!

I believe a good argument could be made for Congress exceeding it's mandate when it attempts to determine the "constitutionality or justification for legislation it's considering...the Constitution clearly delegates that responsibility to the judicial branch.

Wouldn't it be nice if our elected officials actually worked rather than continually exercised their jaws!

Posted by: vagaf31 | January 1, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Neither my so-called "liberal" nor my so-called "conservative" acquaintances want to see it, but the US Constitution is like the Mishnah, and the rest of US law is like the Gemara, so the US legal "system" is like the Talmud! As is any mature and developing system of jurisprudence!

Posted by: CivicRepublican | January 1, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"What the tea party wants from the Constitution" By Ezra Klein

From my perspective, the Tea Party wants to completely redefine the very first word in the Constitution. The Tea Party has the most trouble with that word "We" that is in the preamble, you know, "We the people..."
They just want "We" to mean "me and my co-conspirators"....there is some wrong about those not like us, they think.

Posted by: denim39 | January 1, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I've said it before & I'll say it again:

Young man, in the name of human decency, STOP TYPING!


Posted by: susangorgo | January 1, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein...having trouble w/The Constitution? Let me introduce you to THE FEDERALIST PAPERS...authored by PUBLIUS (Hamilton, Madison, and Jay)...maybe reading that book can help you out w/the document that was ratified in June, 1788...let's see that makes it just short of 223 years old...

Posted by: Lilith209 | January 3, 2011 6:38 AM | Report abuse

There's a reason liberal justices are referred to as activists and conservatives are referred to as originalists, constructionists or textualists.

The liberal idea that the Constitution is a "living and breathing" document is like saying your mortgage contract is living and breathing. I think your mortgage company would disagree. To be fair, there are legitimate ways in place to amend both, but libs realize they don't have the support to do this legitimately in most cases. So, they appoint activists to back door everything.

To the conservative, the Constitution is a shield of individual rights and the historical meaning of the words is paramount. To the liberal justice, the Constitution is like an obstacle to their social utopia, and their job is to exploit the penumbras and build foundations against it with mountains of precedents.

Posted by: rjcarter3 | January 3, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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