One World of Nations
By Leo E. Wanta
24 June 2014
The Preamble is the introduction to the Constitution and explains the general purposes of government. Written by Gouverneur Morris, the Preamble states: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Some, including Patrick Henry, objected to the Preamble’s wording and its claim that the people, rather than the respective states, were the agents of the compact.
The Articles of Confederation was a compact among the states, and the Constitution creates a compact based on a federal system between the national government, state governments, and the people. The Hayne-Webster Debate centered around the nature of the compact created by the Constitution.
Those "Debts and Engagements" relate to "compact i.e., agreement between the U.S. Federal Government and the Sovereign Civil Governments of the Sovereign 10th Amendment Civil Governments of the states pursuant to the 10th Amendment to the Bill of Rights which gives the Civil Governments "Representatives sent to Washington by Majority Vote [non computerized] to represent the States of the Union of the Republics that is covered by the IXt Amendment which, if, in the event these representatives do not represent their constituencies as prescribed by Law and by Oath, the constituencies have the Right to invoke their 10t Amendment Rights and remove them from office by 'recall'.
Articles of Confederation (1781)
This was the first governing document of the United States of America. It was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in November 1777 and ratified by the states in 1781. The Articles of Confederation contain thirteen articles and a conclusion. They were signed by forty-eight people from the thirteen states. Signers included Samuel Adams, John Dickinson, Elbridge Gerry, John Hancock, Richard Henry Lee, Gouverneur Morris, Robert Morris, Roger Sherman, and John Witherspoon.
The Articles created an association of sovereign states. The central government had little authority: it had no power to regulate commerce, no power of taxation, and any alterations had to be agreed upon unanimously by all states, which made changes next to impossible.The most important piece of legislation that the Confederation Congress enacted was the Northwest Ordinance.
Many Founders, including George Washington and James Madison became concerned that the government established by the Articles was inadequate. In 1786, Charles Pinckney proposed revising the Articles. The next year, Congress approved a plan to revise the Articles that summer in Philadelphia.
Lets take a look at that very important document being a "debt and engagement" called Northwest Ordinance.
Northwest Ordinance (1787)
This was the most important piece of legislation enacted by Congress under the Articles of Confederation. The United States claimed the Ohio Territory after the 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War. The Northwest Ordinance then established policies for the creation of new states and the admission of those states into the confederation. The law accelerated westward expansion, and established that all states would be equal, regardless of when they were established.
The Northwest Ordinance also addressed the equality of the rights of citizens of the new states with the rights of citizens of the states that had fought the Revolution. Listed were some fundamental rights including trial by jury, habeas corpus, due process, and religious freedom. Excessive fines and cruel and unusual punishments were banned. Slavery was also banned in new territories, though fugitive slaves who escaped to a new state would be returned to their masters. [LINK]
The Germantown Protest (1688)
On February 18, 1688, in response to fellow Quaker families in Germantown, Pennsylvania, who had decided to practice slavery, members of the Society drafted this first protest against slavery in the new world.
This is to ye monthly meeting held at Richard Worrell's.
These are the reasons why we are against the traffik of men-body, as followeth. Is there any that would be done or handled at this manner? viz., to be sold or made a slave for all the time of his life? How fearful and faint-hearted are many on sea when they see a strange vessel — being afraid it should be a Turk, and they should be taken, and sold for slaves into Turkey. Now what is this better done, as Turks doe? Yea, rather is it worse for them which say they are Christians, for we hear that ye most part of such negers are brought hitherto against their will and consent and that many of them are stolen. Now tho they are black we cannot conceive there is more liberty to have them slaves, as it is to have other white ones. There is a saying that we shall doe to all men like as we will be done ourselves; making no difference of what generation, descent or colour they are. [read more]
THE PRESIDENTS POWERS ARE LIMITED! Congress should know that!
Article II, Section 3: Duties of the President
The president must “take care” that federal laws are executed. He addresses Congress “from time to time” about the state of the union. He can convene both houses on Congress on extraordinary occasions. He also receives ambassadors and public ministers. [LINK]
When the president must "take care" that the federal laws are executed he must further "take care" not to infringe on the Bill of Rights guaranteed by Act of Congress! [LINK]
When I read articles regarding these Congress Critters who strut around like peacocks carrying that little pocket edition of the Constitution (ie: The Law of the Land of this Nation) and still do not know what the LAW IS regarding a president who has placed this nation in Harms Way by refusing to Adhere to his Oath of Office of Public Trust allowing Economic Espionage and Tyranny to run this nation, encroaching on the Rights of other Sovereign Nations. And these Congress Critters sit with their thumbs up their noses wondering what to do.
Article VI: The Supremacy Clause
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. If a state law or constitution contradicts a constitutional federal law, state judges are required to uphold the federal law.
In our system of federalism, in order for a federal law to be constitutional, it must be an exercise of Congress’s powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8. The Tenth Amendment specifies that powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states and the people.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall cited the Supremacy Clause in cases that solidified federal power including McCullough v. Maryland (1819), and Gibbons v. Ogden (1824). [LINK]
Constitution Check: Could the House sue the President for refusing to carry out the laws?
National Constitution Center
By Lyle Denniston
24 June 2014
Lyle Denniston looks at a big constitutional barrier to the courts acting as an arbiter of inter-branch disputes between Congress and the White House.
The statement at issue:
“Presidents must exercise some discretion in interpreting laws, must have some latitude in allocating finite resources to the enforcement of laws and must have some freedom to act in the absence of law. Obama, however, has perpetrated more than 40 suspensions of laws. Were presidents the sole judges of the limits of their latitude, they would effectively have plenary power to vitiate the separation of powers, the Founders’ bulwark against despotism. Congress cannot reverse egregious executive aggressions such as Obama’s without robust judicial assistance….It would be perverse for the courts to adhere to a doctrine of congressional standing so strict that it precludes judicial defense of the separation of powers.”
– Syndicated columnist George F. Will, in The Washington Post on June 22, praising efforts in the House of Representatives to pass legislation that would allow the House to sue President Obama with a claim that he is unconstitutionally refusing to carry out laws passed by Congress. By “congressional standing” he meant the right to file a lawsuit.
“Obama has worked around Congress with breathtaking audacity…So much for the separation of powers. In a desperate attempt to stem the hemorrhaging of legislative power, members of Congress are turning to the court to enforce their constitutional prerogative.”
– Excerpt from a column in Politico magazine in January, by Washington lawyer David Rivkin and Florida law professor Elizabeth Price Foley. The article was discussed favorably in the George Will column in The Post.
We checked the Constitution and...
The Constitution has nothing to say about ways to cure the kind of gridlock that now exists in the national government in Washington. There is frustration in the White House as President Obama finds himself unable to get much of his legislative program through Congress, and there is frustration in Congress – especially in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives – whenever the President takes unilateral action to put some of his policies into effect without legislative approval.
Neither side seems willing to yield, and the Constitution – based as it is on the benign assumption that those in national leadership will always find ways to govern, more or less successfully – has no specific provision to force compromise. The checks-and-balances written into the division of government powers can turn out to barriers to action, especially in circumstances like those that now prevail in the nation’s capital.
It is perhaps tempting to think, as the commentary by columnist George Will suggests, that this is a problem that ought to be handed over to the courts: get them involved to enforce the lines of demarcation between what Congress does and what presidents are allowed to do.
However, there is, and has long been, a constitutional barrier to the courts acting as an arbiter of inter-branch disputes between Congress and the White House. Its origin is in the Constitution’s Article III, and its meaning comes from the way the courts have interpreted the limitation spelled out there. “The judicial power,” it says, “shall extend to all cases…and controversies.” A “case or controversy” means, in this context, a live lawsuit, with those on each side having something genuinely in dispute, and that something is capable of being decided by the use of rules of law.
The courts, in short, will not decide mere abstract legal controversies, and they will not hand out advisory opinions on how the laws or the Constitution are to be interpreted. Courts have a number of ways of showing respect for those restrictions on their power, and one of them is to refuse to decide what is called a “political question.” In this sense, “political” does not mean a partisan issue; it means an issue that the courts find has to be decided, if it is decided at all, only by the “political” branches: Congress and the Executive Branch.
Time after time, when members of Congress have sued in the courts, because the Executive Branch did something that they believe frustrated the will of Congress, they have been met at the door of the courthouse with a polite refusal to let them in. Failing to get their way in the skirmishing with the White House does not give members of Congress a right to take their grievance into court. Frustration does not make a real lawsuit, according to this notion.
Some lawyers and scholars, however, have from time to time wondered if this situation has to continue unchanged. Since the Constitution also gives to Congress the authority to define the jurisdiction of the federal courts, what cases they can and cannot decide, why couldn’t Congress just pass a law declaring that one house or some of the members of Congress do have a right to sue the President over a legitimate inter-branch dispute, in order to protect the legislative prerogative of that part of the government? Wouldn’t that work to get such a lawsuit past the door of the courthouse?
It is a plausible argument, and columnist George Will found it entirely persuasive in the column quoted above. There is a catch, though: expanding the jurisdiction of the courts to hear what are, at their core, political disputes would still be an attempt to create a “case or controversy” that satisfied Article III’s requirements. In other words, the constitutionality of such an expansion of court authority would itself be a constitutional issue that the courts would have the authority to decide.
The courts can be jealous guardians of their notion of what the Constitution allows, or does not allow, in terms of judicial review. The resistance to resolving political disputes is quite deeply set. One might suggest that it would take an inter-branch controversy of monumental proportions to cause them to give up that reluctance. Is the feud over President Obama’s use of his White House powers of that dimension? That may well be debatable.
Lyle Denniston is the National Constitution Center’s adviser on constitutional literacy. He has reported on the Supreme Court for 56 years, currently covering it for SCOTUSblog, an online clearinghouse of information about the Supreme Court’s work.