Modern constitutional law has little to do with the constitution’s real meaning. In fact, I wonder if at times judges have decided on a case and then began looking for constitutional justification. Here is one example of the perversion of the constitution’s original meaning:
Congress has several enumerated powers and then the power to do things “necessary and proper” to achieving those ends. This necessary and proper clause, or sweeping clause, is one of the most poorly interpreted in all constitutional law. The problem is that you can argue if so many things are necessary and proper either way all the day long. and judges often seem to want to expand federal power. So should we not look closely then at how it was intended to be interpreted?
The first hint I can see is in the bill of rights. When the constitution was ratified, many states ratified it conditionally, with the assurance that a bill of rights would be added. In the bill of rights was included a provision (the 10th amendment) that all powers not delegated to the national government were reserved for the states and people respectively. Thomas Jefferson said that on the 10th amendment hung the constitution. The federal government was understood at the time to be limited to those activities listed and, according to the “loose constructionists” those things most directly related and most necessary to fulfilling the constitutional responsibilities of congress. If it were understood that way then, it must have been written intending to be interpreted that way. when the words do not make things completely clear, what better standard is there than what we can only assume was intended?
As the federal government seizes more powers not enumerated or obviously necessary and proper, the line quickly becomes blurred, and people forget that the federal government has limited powers. As we allow the federal government unrestrained intrusion into our lives, into the economy, we will soon not be allowed to live free, but be forced into dependence.