V: Myth of the “General Welfare” Clause

Our federal government was formed by sovereign states who jointly agreed to cede only eighteen of their individual powers to create a federal union of the states. This is found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution – it is not 2,000 pages, so you can read or re-read it tonight. The Constitution is a surprisingly interesting read.

I particularly point out a phrase in the eighteenth power of Article I, Section 8 as it applied and continues to apply to the federal government,

“…To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing Powers…”

The key here are the words; “…foregoing Powers…”

These words mean that all federal laws must be limited to the eighteen powers. Every law must be integral to and support, substantiate, initiate, or enforce one of the eighteen enumerated powers, and currently a few subsequent amendments that have added to the powers. Any federal law must provide for the general welfare within the confines of the enumerated powers. The words “necessary and proper” are not a blanket authority to legislate just about anything Congress desires.

A fallacy perpetuated by the corrupt media, knowingly progressive socialist purveyors of misinformation, or by those poorly versed on the Constitution who just continue to spew the “general welfare clause” grants Congress the power to do just about anything it wishes. They tell you, and many in Congress truly believe that the federal government can do pretty much what it wants to do because it is charged with providing for the general welfare of the nation.

“General welfare” is mentioned in two places in the Constitution; the Preamble and in Article I, Section 8 – the section that deals with enumerated powers granted to Congress. The preamble to the Constitution

“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…promote the general welfare…do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America.”

This is a statement on the purpose of the Constitution. It states the reasons why the people were creating the Constitution and one reason was to promote the general welfare of the union. The preamble provided a general description of what the role of the union would be under the Constitution. The preamble does not provide for the powers of Congress as many nefarious progressives, ill-informed elitists, and corrupt media would have you believe.

“General welfare” again appears in the “powers granted to Congress section”; Article I, Section 8. In the first power of this section, the Constitution does permit the Congress to provide for the general welfare, but in the eighteenth enumerated power of this section the Congress is limited to providing for the general welfare and all of its other responsibilities, to laws that comply with the eighteen enumerated powers, and subsequently additional powers provided by certain amendments to the constitution.


VII: That Pesky Supremacy Clause

A popular misconception among people and again knowingly promulgated by the progressives is that federal law is supreme to state law. We hear uninformed people, pundits, politicians, and journalists misuse the “Supremacy Clause” regularly, often to the point of intentionally, egregiously perpetuating a falsehood.

Article VI of the Constitution states

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; …shall be the supreme Law of the Land…”

Yes, if the laws are within the outlined enumerated powers found in Article I Section 8, “Pursuance thereof”, in the constitution’s subsequent amendments, and do not violate the Bill of Rights, which include the ninth amendment – powers of the people and the tenth amendment – powers of the states, federal law is then and only then supreme. In order for a federal law to be supreme, Congress must play by the rules.  Failure to play by the rules means that Congress’ law is subject to overturn by the courts or nullification by the states. There is more on nullification later.  A Convention of States Article V could do wonders here.  In fact, the executive branch could refuse to enforce such a law as well.

Simply put, if a federal law is not made within the confines of the eighteen powers or subsequent amendments, the federal government is not empowered to make that law.  I might have to say this again in a different way for those very stubborn central government types.  A federal law not empowered by the Constitution – Article I, Section 8, or one that is in violation of the Bill of Rights or not empowered by subsequent amendments, cannot be and is not supreme to state law or any law, because it has no legitimacy of force under the Constitution.

[The ninth amendment] “The enumeration in the constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

[The tenth amendment] “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.”

This creation of a central government uniting sovereign states for self-protection and to improve the free market capability of each state was accomplished with a very delicate, almost perfect balance between states’ sovereignty and a union of the states. The union made the states stronger as a whole and the very limited powers granted the federal government, allowed the states and the citizens of these states to continue to be different, independent, and to seek life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as they saw fit.

The states intended the federal government to be powerful outwardly but not supremely powerful inwardly.  As a union, the states needed to be strong internationally and strong defensively, but the states and the people of the states were highly resistant to and fearful of losing their sovereignty, thus controls over the federal government were placed into the Constitution. The states even built in international and domestic protection for themselves by giving their representatives in Congress, the Senators, advice and, most importantly, consent on federal judicial appointees, executive branch appointees, and treaties.

Until the unfortunate seventeenth amendment, Senators were appointed by their respective state legislatures and truly represented the states at the federal government table.

The “Supremacy Clause”, “Necessary and Proper”, and “General Welfare” are all related and intended to give the federal government the ability to execute what the states had charged the federal government with in the enumerated powers and other specific powers that may appear in the Constitution, and nothing more. These are not wild cards provided to the national legislature.