The American constitution isn't very complicated

By on October 10, 2013 9:06:16 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Frogboy

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In recent discussions, it's become clear that many people aren't really that familiar with the US constitution.  This is a shame because it's actually not very long.

The constitution is broken into two parts.  The first part lists the explicit powers the government has.  The second part are the amendments, two of which are designed to make it bloody clear that only the explicitly named powers listed are things the federal government can do.

The recently passed ACA was held as constitutional only because the court narrowly decided that the government had the power to tax people based on whether they have insurance or not.  

Most of the runaway government comes from the 3rd item below known also as the "commerce clause". It's amazing at how one little chink in the armor has been exploited so massively. The word "regulate" has been tortured into all kinds of things.

Similarly, the 16th amendment has been tortured to give the federal government all kinds of weird powers.  If you look through the constitution, the only amendment that gives the government more power is the 16th. The rest have been put in to reduce federal power. And two of the amendments were put in there as a "We aren't kidding, seriously, No joking, only the 16 enumerated powers are things the feds can do. Really!"

Since some people seem to be confused as to what the federal government is legally allowed to do here is a list:

  1. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
  2. To borrow on the credit of the United States;
  3. To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
  4. To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
  5. To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
  6. To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
  7. To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
  8. To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
  9. To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
  10. To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
  11. To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
  12. To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
  13. To provide and maintain a Navy;
  14. To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
  15. To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
  16. 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;
In addition, 27 amendments were added to the constitution to further clarify any remaining question on what the federal government is allowed to do. They are:
  1. The federal government may not pass laws limiting your speech or establish an official religion.
  2. The federal government may not prevent you from buying a gun.
  3. The "" may not quarter troops in your house.
  4. The "" may may not search and seize things on a whim but only through search warrants based on probably cause.
  5. The "" may  not force you to incriminate yourself.
  6. The people have a right to a trial by jury.
  7. The people also can demand a jury in civil cases.
  8. No cruel or unnsual punishment allowed.
  9. Restates, for future progressives, that the federal government can only perform the ENUMERATED rights (we had a whole amendment dedicated to this and it still gets forgotten)
  10. Restates, for future progressives, again, seriously, NO KIDDING, that the federal government only has those 16 previously enumerated rights and everything else is left to the states. Clear enough? 2 of the 10 bill of rights designed to make sure no future progressive will think that "promote the general welfare" suddenly is a cart blanche new power. Only those 16 powers.
  11. States are immune from suits from foreigners.
  12. The Prez and Vice President are no longer the 1st and 2nd place finishers in elections.
  13. Slavery is now illegal.
  14. Equal protection of the law and everyone is gauranteed due process.
  15. All men can vote, regardless of color.
  16. The government can now collect money via an income tax.
  17. Senators are now elected by popular vote.
  18. Alcohol is now illegal. 
  19. Women can now vote too.
  20. Changes the date when congress and the president come into office.
  21. Just kidding on the booze, alcohol is legal again.
  22. You can only serve two terms as President.
  23. Washington DC gets to have a vote in presidential elections.
  24. You can't charge people to vote (i.e. no poll taxes).
  25. Clarifies succession for the presidency.
  26. 18 year olds can now vote.
  27. Salary increases for congress dont' go into affect until after the next election

See? Is this really that complicated? The federal government has 16 things it is allowed to do. But for future dumb people, the bill of rights has 2 amendments to emphasize that yes, and truly, only those 16 things are allowed.

So next time someone tells you that the federal government can do anything it wants if it passes congress or if it's popular with the people show them this. Because no, unless they can get the constitution amended to allow whatever their progressive dream they're having, if it's not listed here, it isn't legal unless they can manage to torture the 3rd enumerated power (commerce clause) or the 16th amendment further.

That said, for the most part, your STATE can go nuts.

 
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October 10, 2013 9:37:01 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

That said, for the most part, your STATE can go nuts.  

 

 

Well there you have it..........maybe that is part of the problem?  

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October 10, 2013 9:52:52 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting the_Monk,


That said, for the most part, your STATE can go nuts.  

 

 

Well there you have it..........maybe that is part of the problem?  

It's amazing they're not nuttier than they are.

The states, theoretically, could establish their own religion. In theory.

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October 10, 2013 10:09:17 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

They had them early on.  There were states where you had to be this or that denomination to run for office.  Now the Feds tell people they can't have the ten commandments up in a courthouse...

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October 10, 2013 10:24:18 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting psychoak,

They had them early on.  There were states where you had to be this or that denomination to run for office.  Now the Feds tell people they can't have the ten commandments up in a courthouse...

Wasnt that a federal court house though?

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October 10, 2013 10:42:25 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

It was the supreme courthouse of that state, I forget which one.  So many bigger fish to fry, I just found it hilarious so I didn't store the details.

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October 10, 2013 10:52:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

But it isn't as simple as that. Intelligent people can disagree about the meaning and breadth of the enumerated powers, e.g., the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. (And I write this as a critic of post-New Deal Commerce Clause jurisprudence.)

NB. The Sixteenth Amendment isn't the only amendment expanding federal power either. The Fourteenth Amendment expands federal power at the expense of the states.

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October 10, 2013 11:37:10 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Blue is now pink.  If you disagree with me, one of us is an idiot.  If you agree, well... welcome to the club I guess.

 

Slightly more seriously, people argue over whether keep and bear arms actually means keep and bear arms.  It doesn't mean the ones that can't read plain english are intelligent.  It means they're stone stupid, dumb as dirt, 52 cars shy of a full deck.  Whether you're a gun toting redneck awaiting the stupocalypse, or a hippy liberal that thinks people with guns are why crime exists, it still means the same damned thing.

 

Regulate means to make regular.  It's the original definition, the only one the word had when they wrote it.  To make regular the commerce between the states is not a deep, complex power.  It's very simple.

 

The Feds are allowed to spank the shit out of any state or people that tries to block or tax imports and exports between them and their fellow states.  That's it, original intent in it's entirety.  Where intelligent people can possibly have a discussion is not much more open.

 

It's an intellectually dishonest argument that the interstate highway system should fall under the commerce clause.  It clearly doesn't, it says regulate, not promote.  The interstate highway system is beneficial, we need one.  I suspect we'd probably get most of the way there at less expense if the states did their own damned highways, it makes them money after all, but it's at least something that can be argued as being positive for trade.  It is not, however, constitutional.

 

Most of what they do isn't to promote, but restrict.  They redefined regulate to fit their needs, and our bleeding moron population follows it up like the sheep they are.

 

Something arguable would be whether a state has the right to restrict government bids to in state residents and businesses.  Does employment count as trade?  Would a railroad charging for access across their tracks constitute their right to property or impeding trade?  The Supreme Court would then rule on the gray area, solving the conundrum.  As opposed to making shit up wholesale in direct conflict with the written word, like they usually do.

 

The cure to your disagreement with plain english is to amend it to say something else, not pretend it says something else.  One makes us a nation of laws, the other a nation of liars.

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October 11, 2013 3:14:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

bah. there's always context, which evolve with time. arms can mean any and everything. a nuke is a weapon and thus would constitute arms. i don't think anyone would think some nutter bodging up one in a cellar next door is a good idea.

a madman with a musket against a dozen people is a different order to one with a machine gun against a hundred. the text doesn't say a mad man is barred from being a citizen. risk of someone going postal has inflated consequences over the years.

 

why do people interpret amendments rather than write new ones? it's easier.

personally i think the 2nd amendment has an extra "and" in there. get rid of it and the only people unhappy will be wwf and peta.

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October 11, 2013 4:43:34 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The interstates were actually formed under "provide for the common defense"- it was originally designed for troop movements- after Eisenhower saw how effective the Autobahn was in Nazi Germany.  The fact that they provided an economic boost was secondary (and some states really did neglect their roads in comparison to other states)

 

Personally, I think you can disagree on what the constitution is, even heavily disagree- though there are some points that are solid. 

 

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October 11, 2013 6:19:26 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

All well and good but some clarity is necessary. Where does it say that abuse of constitutional rights is allowed. Meaning that so many people hide behind those rights to 'promote', as it were, their own aims. Freedom of speech, assembly, the right to keep and bear arms, freedom of expression and so forth...all are abused to such an extent as to make such rights almost meaningless. Should they not also be regulated so that abuse is not tolerated. My two cents. 

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October 11, 2013 9:18:47 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Such a simplistic approach to a multitude of very serious conditions that exist today because of those that narrowly interpret the Constitution for their own beliefs and benefit.

I could say more but what's the point.

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October 11, 2013 10:25:40 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Hmmm, whatever happened to the Amendment that said "All elected officials must have good common sense?".  Oh yeah, I remember now, they had to get rid of it because they could not find anyone to elect!

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October 11, 2013 11:15:56 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting gmc2,

Such a simplistic approach to a multitude of very serious conditions that exist today because of those that narrowly interpret the Constitution for their own beliefs and benefit.

I could say more but what's the point.

-said every kid for the last 200 years who confuses their ignorance with nuance.

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October 11, 2013 11:26:46 AM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting alaknebs,

bah. there's always context, which evolve with time. arms can mean any and everything. a nuke is a weapon and thus would constitute arms. i don't think anyone would think some nutter bodging up one in a cellar next door is a good idea.

a madman with a musket against a dozen people is a different order to one with a machine gun against a hundred. the text doesn't say a mad man is barred from being a citizen. risk of someone going postal has inflated consequences over the years.

 

why do people interpret amendments rather than write new ones? it's easier.

personally i think the 2nd amendment has an extra "and" in there. get rid of it and the only people unhappy will be wwf and peta.

Actually, even without the second amendment the federal government has no legal basis to outlaw guns.

The second amendment merely also makes it clear that even the states can't do it either.

It's really a shame so many people seem to think that everything should be done by the federal government.  The states still have the power to do all kinds of things.  

If we want to give the federal government new powers or restrictions, we can do that through the amendment process. Otherwise, it's supposed to be part of the states. 

Someone mentioned earlier food lines. Saying that the federal government has no legal basis to do handouts doesn't mean the states can't.  I doubt someone in Denmark would argue that any welfare system they have should only come from the European Union. No, they'd say that Denmark can do it just fine.

The STATES have broad authority to do lots of things and they should. The federal government, not so much.

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October 11, 2013 1:38:55 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Quoting Mmrnmhrm,


Quoting gmc2, reply 11
Such a simplistic approach to a multitude of very serious conditions that exist today because of those that narrowly interpret the Constitution for their own beliefs and benefit.

I could say more but what's the point.


-said every kid for the last 200 years who confuses their ignorance with nuance.

So, essentially you're a troll without a clue but have the ability to provide inane responses to statements that go beyond your ability to comprehend. just checking.

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October 11, 2013 2:13:05 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

People interpret laws instead of amending them because amending the Constitution requires the consent of the people.  Interpreting it just requires that they don't piss us off enough to end up with an armed rebellion resulting in the lot of them hanging from the eaves.

 

The argument that the founders didn't imagine modern arms and never imagined what a psychopath could do with a machine gun.

 

I'll see your machine gun and raise you a cannon.  A deadly weapon of war, quickly reloaded artillery, capable of killing dozens with a single shot if fired into a crowd.  Modern day versions are simply longer range, with more powerful explosives and targeting systems.

 

They were easy to make, any bell founder worth a damn could make their own.  They were readily available to those with the money to purchase one.  Privately owned cannons, mortars and grenades were so common that some places found it necessary to specifically ban leaving them unattended while loaded.

 

Weapons of war were already in the hands of the citizenry before the second amendment was even written.

 

Should we be allowed to have nukes?  Constitutionally, yes.  If you can afford one, you can legally have one.  This is why we have the amendment process, so the unforeseen can be handled.

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October 11, 2013 2:32:48 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting gmc2,



So, essentially you're a troll without a clue but have the ability to provide inane responses to statements that go beyond your ability to comprehend. just checking.

Weren't you basically trolling me in the first place?  I mean, you basically implied that I had a "simplistic" view on the constitution and was just interpreting it for my own beliefs. I mean, that's a pretty big piece of red troll meat there.  You just jumped in, fired off a snotty response and waved it away with a  "I could say more but what's the point." Us tea-bagging neocons wouldn't understand the subtlety and sophistication of your deep thoughts anyway right? 

The fact is, a group of people got together, unhappy with the existing government and carefully put together a new government that was designed to be very limited. They tried their best to write it so that there was no wiggle room. They even provided a straight forward mechanism to amend it so that it could adapt to the times.

Over time, however, people who really like government having power and who knew full well that most people wouldn't agree with them began to willfully reinterpret what are simple terms to pass new laws.  If their beliefs were widely held, they could have amended the constitution. But they weren't so they didn't.  As a result, over time we have a federal government that can mandate what our private insurance has in it and that we have to put corn into our fuels. 

 

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October 11, 2013 2:54:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,


It's really a shame so many people seem to think that everything should be done by the federal government.  The states still have the power to do all kinds of things.  

except there's the slight problem. 1 state allows certain guns, other state bans the same guns. people go from 1 state to another to buy it. not like you have custom booth between state borderlines.

though at the end of the day. criminals will never have problems buying guns, whether it's legal or not. then again, gun control legislations aren't really aimed at them.

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October 11, 2013 2:59:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

"I'm saying... if the president does it, then it's not illegal!"

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October 11, 2013 3:00:45 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting alaknebs,


Quoting Frogboy, reply 14

It's really a shame so many people seem to think that everything should be done by the federal government.  The states still have the power to do all kinds of things.  


except there's the slight problem. 1 state allows certain guns, other state bans the same guns. people go from 1 state to another to buy it. not like you have custom booth between state borderlines.

though at the end of the day. criminals will never have problems buying guns, whether it's legal or not. then again, gun control legislations aren't really aimed at them.

That argument can be used for tons of things.  One state allows Marijuana, another stat does not.

I wish that the amendment process was used more.  If they managed to get an anti-booze thing through, it can't be that onerous!

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October 11, 2013 3:48:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,


Quoting alaknebs, reply 18

Quoting Frogboy, reply 14

It's really a shame so many people seem to think that everything should be done by the federal government.  The states still have the power to do all kinds of things.  


except there's the slight problem. 1 state allows certain guns, other state bans the same guns. people go from 1 state to another to buy it. not like you have custom booth between state borderlines.

though at the end of the day. criminals will never have problems buying guns, whether it's legal or not. then again, gun control legislations aren't really aimed at them.

That argument can be used for tons of things.  One state allows Marijuana, another stat does not.

I wish that the amendment process was used more.  If they managed to get an anti-booze thing through, it can't be that onerous!

 

It would be used more if it was easier.  It should be easier. 

 

I'd like to see amendments become passable via plebiscite, with 60% needed to get it.  Each President gets to propose one amendment per term which gets voted on when the election for the next term begins.

 

 

I'll say this, living in the South makes me glad as hell for a strong federal government to protect me from some of the unsavory and corrupt neo-Confederates that run Southern states.  Just look at poor North Carolina.

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October 11, 2013 4:02:25 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Back in the 8th grade, you had to pass a test on the constitution to pass the 8th grade.  So several weeks before the test, all learning stopped except on the Constitution.  Needless to say, Brad is right.  I had it memorized by the time the test came!

 

Of course that was when there were fewer amendments, so it was shorter.

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October 11, 2013 4:10:43 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting Alstein,



I'll say this, living in the South makes me glad as hell for a strong federal government to protect me from some of the unsavory and corrupt neo-Confederates that run Southern states.  Just look at poor North Carolina.

I live near Detroit. 

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October 11, 2013 4:24:26 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting Alstein,


It would be used more if it was easier.  It should be easier. 

I'd like to see amendments become passable via plebiscite, with 60% needed to get it.  Each President gets to propose one amendment per term which gets voted on when the election for the next term begins.

An amendment can be proposed by the states with only 2/3'rds of them (67%) agreeing. Then, it would take 3/4ths (38 out of 50) of the states to ratify it.

Now, as for changing that to 60% instead, I'd be okay with that.

Right now, 38 of the 50 state legislatures are controlled by the Republicans.  If it only took 30 of them to get an amendment passed, I think we'd seem some new amendments - just not the ones you'd like to see I suspect.

 


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October 11, 2013 4:36:58 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Weren't you basically trolling me in the first place? I mean, you basically implied that I had a "simplistic" view on the constitution and was just interpreting it for my own beliefs. I mean, that's a pretty big piece of red troll meat there. You just jumped in, fired off a snotty response and waved it away with a "I could say more but what's the point." Us tea-bagging neocons wouldn't understand the subtlety and sophistication of your deep thoughts anyway right?

Not at all Brad. I actually had 5 or 6 paragraphs to post but after thinking about it, it just seemed kind of pointless. You have an opinion and I have my own. The 2nd amendment was what got me going but after looking at the historical data I found that this amendment has been before the courts on many occasions and has different rulings handed down over the decades. This what I was referring to as pointless point of discussion. You're not going to agree on my point of view nor me on yours, so again, what's the point.

I took offense at what dingbat said and responded to that in kind. It was not addressed at you or your beliefs and would appreciate it if you'd lighten up a bit.

 

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