Letters: Interpreting the Constitution


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  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 5, 2013 8:49 p.m.

    Great, the Democrats can obstruct everything after 2014, shut down the government, whine that they do not have power and follow the civics lesson taught by the radical juvenile tea party.

  • trekker Salt Lake, UT
    Oct. 3, 2013 10:41 a.m.

    Is it not unconstitutional for our government leaders to force Obama Care on to us and not themselves?

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Oct. 2, 2013 10:30 p.m.

    @Furry1993 "Amendment 14"

    I think you may have misunderstood the question.

    Certainly we must pay debt we have already incurred. But when Congress passes a law which says we shall no longer allocate money for a specific program, the U.S. stops incurring new debt for that program. I asked where the Constitution says they may not pass that law.

    @Furry1993 "I am surprised..."

    You shouldn't be. I said clearly that laws which do harm to one person in order to do good to another cannot be described as "general welfare." Obamacare will reduce the quality of health care that most people now enjoy, in order to provide health insurance for a greater number of (but not all) citizens. It's simply not general.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    Oct. 2, 2013 5:53 p.m.

    @T.Party 2:04 p.m. Oct. 1, 2013

    Pleasant Grove, UT

    @Furry1993 "general welfare"

    General welfare benefits all citizens. For example, building roads upon which anyone can drive, or raising an army to provide protection for everyone.

    I am surprised that you don't recognize the fact that the general welfare of the United States is promoted when its citizens are healthy and receive good and competent health care and health insurance, instead of the current situation where they receive no health care until a crisis occurs and they get their health care form an expensive emergency room visit at the expense of all the tax-paying citizens in the country.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    Oct. 2, 2013 5:49 p.m.

    @T.Party 1:2 p.m. Oct. 2 2013

    The answer to your question is found in Amendment 14 to the US Constitution at paragraph 4:

    4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

    Funding for the Affordable Care Act has already been approved, and should be paid.

  • T. Party Pleasant Grove, UT
    Oct. 2, 2013 1:12 p.m.

    @LDS Liberal "Ignoring and trampling the constitution..."

    This is where you get to show me the passage in the Constitution that requires Congress to fund everything passed by a previous Congress. Post it right here.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Oct. 2, 2013 6:52 a.m.

    Gotta love how Conservatives support the Constitution and the electoral college "selecting" GW Bush when he didn't win the popular vote,
    Ignoring and trampling the constitution about laws passed both the House and the Senate, signed into law by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 9:02 p.m.

    Mountanman,your name is misspelled and It would be great if this was settled by respected election results rather than backdoor threats and attempts to overturn elections and rulings of the Supreme Court. Just saying.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Oct. 1, 2013 6:20 p.m.

    "Why have you not advocated for laws allowing/requiring ERs to refuse treatment to those who have no means to pay?"

    Truthseeker . Now that's completely different. That requirement was put in by Reagan.

  • ugottabkidn Sandy, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 4:51 p.m.

    Dear Mr Mountan (sp) I am receiving the same subsidy that every other citizen receives through his employer. You see, like it or not we are all "paying" for healthcare of others now but we who are paying close to the same tax rates for healthcare as Canadians and yet I must hire an accountant to audit and an attorney to advocate every time I'm in need of major medical. Even you, an advocate of the archaic system we have had is supplementing the rest of us. Those visits to a provider by deadbeats isn't free. But, thanks for asking.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 1, 2013 4:27 p.m.

    Jefferson and Hamilton's debate over the Necessary and Proper Clause came to a head in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Mcculloch v. Maryland.

    McCulloch v. Maryland was the first case in which the Supreme Court applied the Necessary and Proper Clause. Some constitutional historians believe that this opinion represents an important act in the ultimate creation of the U.S. federal government. The case involved the question of whether Congress had the power to charter a bank. At first, this question might seem inconsequential, but underlying it are larger questions that go to the foundations of constitutional interpretation. To some extent, they are still debated.

    The questions before the Supreme Court involved whether the state or national government held more power. The Court held that Maryland could not undermine an act of Congress. The states were subordinate to the federal government. This ruling established that Congress could use the Necessary and Proper Clause to create a bank even though the Constitution does not explicitly grant that power to Congress. Chief Justice Marshall's opinion endorsed the constitutionality of the bank, but went on to uphold a broad interpretation of the federal government's powers under the Constitution.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Oct. 1, 2013 3:29 p.m.

    It sounds like Hamilton was talking out of both sides of his mouth. But in the same document, he wrote, “There seems to be no room for a doubt, that whatever concerns the general interests of learning, of agriculture, of manufactures, and of commerce, are within the sphere of the national councils, as far as regards an application of money.” If these areas are "within the sphere," why not health care? I think Hamilton, who was a founding father, would like Obamacare.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 1, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    "is not general welfare to take money from one group of people and to spend it on nice things for another group of people."

    Is that how you view healthcare--a "nice thing?" Like a new car or a new TV?

    We have very different perceptions of what constitutes a civilized society.

    Why have you not advocated for laws allowing/requiring ERs to refuse treatment to those who have no means to pay?
    Only then will there not be money shifting from one group to another.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 2:58 p.m.

    What does the Constitution really say? Where is that "elastic clause" found? Does that clause stand on its own, or is it dependent on the "foregoing" clauses found in that single sentence that comprises Article 1, Section 8?

    Here is the text: "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."

    That is the last CLAUSE of that sentence. The foregoing powers are listed (enumerated) immediately before it in that single sentence. The Powers vested by this Constitution must also be listed (enumerated), otherwise, they are to be left to the States, as required by the 10th Amendment.

    There is nothing "elastic" about that clause. It strictly limits the authority of the Federal Government to tax us to those explicit duties listed (enumerated) in the Constitution.

    Those who want to change the Constitution to include others duties are free to do so if they can convince 75% of the States that their changes are good and necessary.

  • T. Party Pleasant Grove, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 2:04 p.m.

    @Furry1993 "general welfare"

    General welfare benefits all citizens. For example, building roads upon which anyone can drive, or raising an army to provide protection for everyone.

    It is not general welfare to take money from one group of people and to spend it on nice things for another group of people. That is something else entirely. The Constitution doesn't empower Congress to do it.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 1, 2013 1:17 p.m.

    You're wrong about Hamilton.

    The Necessary and Proper Clause allows Congress "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the [enumerated] Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the U.S. It is also sometimes called the "elastic clause." It grants Congress the powers that are implied in the Constitution, but that are not explicitly stated. That is why the powers derived from the Necessary and Proper Clause are referred to as implied powers.

    The correct way to interpret the Necessary and Proper Clause was the subject of a debate between Hamilton and Jefferson. Hamilton argued for an expansive interpretation of the clause. His view would have authorized Congress to exercise a broad range of implied powers. On the other hand, Jefferson was concerned about vesting too much power in any one branch of government. He argued that "necessary" was a restrictive adjective meaning essential. Jefferson's interpretation would have strengthened States' Rights. George Washington and James Madison favored Hamilton's more flexible interpretation, and subsequent events helped to foster the growth of a strong central government.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 12:54 p.m.

    100 years ago - back when Conservatives still obeyed, honored and sustained the Constitution of the United States -

    When they wanted prohibition, they got the VOTES,
    in the House,
    in the Senate,
    and in the Whitehouse,
    to pass a law, and an amendment (18th) to stop the sale and transportation of alcohol.

    When it didn't work out,
    The Liberals got the votes,
    in the House,
    and in the Senate,
    and in the WhiteHouse,
    to change it back (21st amendment).

    Today's Tea-Party and their extortion tactics on the entire country to get something they can't win with enough votes for would put Al Copone, Frank Costello, and Lucky Luciano to shame!

  • Brad Daw Orem, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 12:40 p.m.

    @MaxPower Since the Supreme Court has clearly changed its mind on several occasions, I will gladly stand by my assertion that the best yardstick of constitutionality is not any current Supreme Court decision but the original intent of those who wrote and ratified it along with the intent of those who amended it. And I will assert, as Hamilton and others have clearly outlined that congress has no authority under the Constitution to enact most parts of ObamaCare. Yes it will have to tried again, but certainly doesn't mean the Supreme Court got it right the first time.

  • MaxPower Eagle Mountain, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 11:57 a.m.


    Nothing in my post indicated my views on the law, only the fault in your understanding of how the Constitution works and what the popularity actually means

    I get my health care courtesy of you seeing as I am in on Active Duty in the Army. When my time is up in a month, I will be purchasing my healthcare through the private sector. The only subsidy I'll be getting is whatever my employer contributes to my premium.

    If the law is as unpopular as you claim (which I doubt because of what I already outlined happened in 2012) then they should have no problem stacking the white house and congress in 2016 and repealing it in the manner already authorized my the Constitution.

  • MaxPower Eagle Mountain, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 11:52 a.m.

    @Brad Daw

    Amendments 16-22. None of which have to do with segregation. However, the Supreme Court can and has changed its mind on Constitutionality (it's rare, but it goes to show the document is not as cut and dry as some would have you think).

    To follow that example, one must amend the Constitution, or try the case again before the ultimate authority.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Oct. 1, 2013 11:33 a.m.

    @ugottabikidn & maxpwoer. You must have either gotten a waiver from Obamacare or will be getting a nice subsidy. Call me back in a year when the Obamacare damage assessments roll in!

  • Brad Daw Orem, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 11:32 a.m.

    @MaxPower: Good point. Could you tell me which Constitutional amendment occurred between Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education to cause such a complete change in the court's opinion?

  • Brad Daw Orem, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 11:26 a.m.

    CNN/ORC poll today:

    "Less than one in five people say Obamacare will make them and their families better off. About 40 percent say it will make them worse off, or will have no effect at all."


    "Just more than 50 percent of people in the U.S. agree that ObamaCare is not ready for primetime."

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 11:23 a.m.

    @Mike Richards
    South Jordan, Utah

    Personal health care is not covered in General Welfare. Medicare is personal welfare. ObamaCare is personal welfare. Social Security, is personal welfare. We're illegally taxed to fund those services.


    So - Honesty and Integrity question for you;

    Are you planning on living by those words - YOUR words -
    and NOT sign up for Social Security or Medicare?


    Are you going to say one thing, and then do the other?


    @J Thompson

    Same question,
    Are you going to pony up to the "public trough", as you called it?

  • MaxPower Eagle Mountain, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    @Brad Daw

    At the time of the horrible, horrible decision of Dred Scott, it was still Constitutional. Do you know how that was changed? Amendments 13 and 14.

    Short of a Constitutional Amendment, the Supreme Court has the final say on what is in bounds and out of bounds.

  • Brad Daw Orem, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 10:59 a.m.

    Very interesting comments. For the many of you saying that ObamaCare is constitutional because the Supreme Court says it is, I have but two words: Dred Scott

    For those who try to argue that the "necessary and proper" phrase allows congress to basically do whatever it wants I would suggest you re-read what Alexander Hamilton wrote. He clearly disagrees. If that doesn't work you could read Madison who sees an even more limited federal government than Hamilton.

  • ugottabkidn Sandy, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    Mountain from Id, The polls you cite do not tell the whole story. A substantial amount polled believe Obamacare doesn't go far enough. Meaning they prefer a single payer system to one that is primarily beneficial to the wealthy. Coupled with those in favor the majority are in favor of changing the healthcare system that is the most discriminatory in the industrialized world. As for you Constitutional thumpers, when you are paid to interrupt the Constitution then I will take your view seriously. Some of you continually pick and choose what you believe and what you don't. I can only imagine how your pick and choose tactics work in church.

  • MaxPower Eagle Mountain, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 10:46 a.m.


    News flash for you, if a law is unpopular enough there is a legal way to repeal it. See Article I of the Constitution. Unless your copy says something about a law being unpopular it can be ignored, my understanding is it has to go through a process in which a new law is created saying the other is repealed.

    Another one: The President ran on this in 08 and won...and won reelection on it! More people voted for democrats than republicans in the House races (see gerrymandering) and the Senate gained seats. This revolted you expect to happen in 2014 should have probably happened in 2012 with the guy who repeated "Day 1 I will repeal Obamacare"

    Didn't happen. The last poll that counted validated the Affordable Care act.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Oct. 1, 2013 10:37 a.m.

    @ One vote. I have a news flash for you. Those supporting Obamacare are the minority! Check the polls. Not good news for your side. Expect a revolt at the 2014 elections and Democrats up for election will be sent packing! So much for your "minority".

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    What clause talks about refusing to fund government to force legislation by a minority?

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Oct. 1, 2013 9:58 a.m.


    When I see you rant about any GOP proposal that does not fit your narrow constitutional view, I will listen to you.

    You carp daily about the Democrats. Are you suggesting that the GOP does not violate your constitutional views?

    When have you ever ranted against them? Excuse me if I view your Constitutional view as partisan and selective.

    I also find it hilarious that many on the right blast Obama for "illegally" postponing the implementation of the ACA while screaming that they want to postpone it.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    Americans, i.e, the People, are bound by the Constitution just as much as the government is bound. Americans have no right to demand "services" from the Federal Government that remove from them their personal responsibility to provide for their own personal needs. The People have no right to demand that other citizens open their wallets to pay for their doctor bills or for the groceries or for their housing. The People have no right to take from the general revenue of the United States to pay for those things that they cannot or will not pay themselves.

    The Constitution protects the people from a government that would take away our rights and our responsibilities.

    The Constitution protects the government from people who demand access to general revenue funds, People who want to eat from a public trough, People who want someone else to pay for their doctor visits, for their visits to the grocery store, for their rent, for their education and for all the other "personal welfare" duties that they have responsibility to handle themselves.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    The Constitution clearly states that the best way to run the country is to have millions of families uninsured and without access to healthcare. That way the industry can make massive profits instead of helping the people who need it.

  • micawber Centerville, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 8:59 a.m.


    We are all Americans whether we subscribe to your view of Constitutional interpretation or not.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Oct. 1, 2013 8:49 a.m.

    If people would read the Constitution before posting, they would clearly see that Article 1, Section 8, lists the duties of the Federal Government; the duties that require taxation. All other duties are left to the States, according to the 10th Amendment.

    General Welfare is the phrase that liberals love. They ignore the Constitution's limits and apply "General Welfare" to anything that they want funded, which is totally outside the duties of the Federal Government.

    Personal health care is not covered in General Welfare. Medicare is personal welfare. ObamaCare is personal welfare. Social Security, is personal welfare. We're illegally taxed to fund those services.

    Judges that rule because of political pressure or are too cowardly to oppose public opinion have given each family bills that they cannot pay without destroying their ability to provide for themselves; therefore, they become pawns to those who rule and reign in Washington.

    The public has become so dependent on Washington that they forget that they are Americans and that Americans have the responsibility to provide for their own personal welfare.

  • No One Of Consequence West Jordan, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 8:49 a.m.

    Just ask yourself this: Do you have more or less freedom today than you did yesterday?

    All three branches of our government have run amok.

  • watchman Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 8:13 a.m.

    I'm with you, Brad. England picked and chose what he wanted to use of Hamilton's statements to support the feds all inclusive interpretation of the general welfare.

    With his interpretation there are no limits.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Oct. 1, 2013 7:54 a.m.

    @ Joe Blow. Democrats and Obama are unfairly, unconstitutionally and illegally changing the implementation of Obamacare as Obama has mandated at least 17 changes without congressional approval and has given waivers to his rich and powerful friends and themselves. Why do you think Obamacare is so very unpopular with the middle class? Now you know!

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Oct. 1, 2013 7:38 a.m.

    Democrats don't care about the constitution one bit! Obamcare was passed without one GOP vote, declared constitutional by the SCOTUS only as it was declared a tax. Since then, Obama has illegally and unconstitutionally mandated at least 17 changes in the law, without any congressional approval. Obama has given waivers to financial supporters and themselves illegally! The GOP and honest Americans everywhere are saying, "Wait a minute, I want an exemption too"! But this mess is forced upon the middle class. But Obama and the Democrats are outraged by some Americans wanting fairness and the rule of law adhered to. Honesty, integrity and the rule of law applied equally and fairly to which the Democrats object to. Note to you Demos, your phony and illegally administered ACA is very unpopular and you can expect an uprising against your party and you will lose at the polls future elections!

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 7:36 a.m.

    Look --
    If you want to live in 1787, that's fine by me.

    You are free to move to remote, unpopulated area,
    build your one room cabin,
    dig a well,
    grow your own garden,
    use your gun to shoot your food and protect yourself [if you have a neighbor - form that well TRAINED militia also required],
    chop your wood,
    pay next to nothing in taxes,
    live "free" and die.

    The rest of us understand that the Founding Father were intentionally vague and allowed for interpretations of the "intent" of the Constitution to allow for it to stand the test of time and allow for...(here it is, I know you ultra-cons are going to hate this)...PROGRESS.

    Guys like this will aruge we can't have an Air Force because only "army" or "navy" is spelled out.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 7:23 a.m.

    If the Republicans want so badly to remove the Affordable Care Act, they need to take the Senate and the Presidency - then they can follow the constitutional procedures to pass a new law or remove a law. The current law, which was passed by the House, the Senate, signed by the President, and reviewed by the Supreme Court, is now the law of the land. You not liking it does not change that fact.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Oct. 1, 2013 6:31 a.m.

    By this logic, wouldn't Medicare part D and No Child left Behind also fall into that category?
    (along with hundreds, if not thousands of other programs)

    Only 25 Republicans voted against Med Part D, the largest entitlement expansion in decades.

    I find it curious (and partisan perhaps) that so many want to use selective logic when dealing with things that they don't want, by parties that they don't like.

    If the logic was applied universally and uniformly, the GOP would have no true following by conservatives.

    But, that is not the case. Why do you think that is?

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 5:31 a.m.

    Not according the the supreme Court of the United States.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 4:41 a.m.

    The constitution specifically allows congress to do whatever is necessary and proper to, among other things, promote the general welfare of the United States. The Affordable Care Act (originally drafted by the extremely conservative Heritage Foundation) promotes the general welfare of the United States. Therefore its establishment is clearly within the specifically granted powers found in the US Constitution. Alexander Hamilton was right. Brad Daw is not.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Oct. 1, 2013 4:04 a.m.

    As the author points out, Hamilton spoke with the intention to limit the power of Congress with regard to the general welfare of nation, no doubt fearing that things might run amok in that regard. But just as clearly, Hamilton believed in the processes set forth in the Constitution. One clear process is that the Supreme Court should rule on the Constitutionality of any law passed by the Congress. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court has done just that and ruled that it is Constitutional. Call it a ruling in favor of a tax or whatever you care to but the court ruled that it's provisions are Constitutional.

    I know the Republicans were counting on the court to say otherwise and they were disappointed by the decision. Just like I know the Republicans hoped the last presidential election would be a rebuke to the Obama Administration and they were just as disappointed. So now is the time for them to buck up and accept reality - the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the ACA and the American people made a choice in the national election to support the leading proponent of the ACA.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 1, 2013 12:08 a.m.

    If Medicare is constitutional, Obamacare is constitutional. The Supreme Court says that both of them are, and that's good enough for me.