The Kingdom of Congress

Let’s pause briefly for a recalibration of our thinking.

We spend a lot of time contemplating what Congress is doing—new pieces of legislation, the strategies for passing them, etc.

An Old Document that No One Reads Anymore

Stop and remember something: Congress was originally set up with very limited powers. The United States Constitution did not erect a tribunal that could legislate on any matter it deemed fit.

In Article One, Section 4, we find the following wording: “The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year.” Why was that even inserted? The easy answer is this: Congress had such limited authority for legislation that it might not need to meet every year; this phrase was included to ensure that the people (in the House) and the state governments (in the Senate) would have input into the federal government, keeping it from becoming primarily an executive branch.

The concern was that Congress could be preempted.

During the ratification debates on the proposed Constitution, some opponents objected to what they perceived would be too powerful a federal government. James Madison, writing in what we now call Federalist #45, responded to those objections in these words:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

In other words, this Constitution did not set up a government that could legislate on all matters; it was limited in its scope.

Yet what do we see now? We don’t have to worry about making sure that Congress meets once every year. The struggle now is to make them go home once in a while. Congress has taken upon itself (with a generous nod from the federal judiciary) authority it doesn’t possess. It now tries to legislate on everything.

Healthcare is the most prominent issue at present. If you were to seek the place in the Constitution where it says Congress has power to legislate on this matter, you would come away empty.

Another problem that has arisen with our new imperial Congress is that individuals have become mini-dictators. Committee chairs set up kingdoms. The role of Speaker of the House carries with it virtually unlimited authority with respect to how that body functions.

The imperiousness has risen to unprecedented levels.

Those statements are not fabricated. Speaker Pelosi actually uttered those very words.

There is an old saying/joke that takes on greater meaning with each passing year: Congress has adjourned, the Republic is safe.

It’s time to once again be governed by the rule of law; it’s time to return to constitutional limitations.