Read the Constitution!

April 18, 2010

The Tea Party movement does not hold exclusive rights to the U.S. Constitution, nor do those members who proudly claim that the Obama administration is destroying the document have even the faintest idea of what they are talking about. To be  blunt, Tea Partiers are completely ignorant about what the Constitution says and how it has been interpreted by federal courts and applied by the Congress and the states.

Let’s start with the Preamble to the Constituion, where the Founding Fathers talk about the importance of promoting “the general welfare.” Of course this is a vague statement, but it is clear that the writers of the document were supportive of government policies that addressed common issues, general concerns. It would seem that 50 million people without health care and millions more affected by outrageous insurance and hospital policies would require the government to take measures that promote ” the general welfare.” If ensuring that American citizens have access to affordable health care is not part of promoting ” the general welfare, I don’t what is.

Then there is the interstate commerce clause. Situated in Article 1, Section 8 are the powers of Congress and one of those powers is to ” Regulate Commerce with foreign nations and among the several states.” Historically, the courts in this country have given the federal government wide latitude in regulating commerce, such as the insurance industry in the health care field. Congress was certainly not violating the Constitution by regulating commerce in  this case health insurers; it was only doing what has been done many times during our history.

Finally, there is the supremacy clause. Article 6 in the Constitution states very clearly that, ” the Laws of the United States…shall be the Supreme Law of the Land.” Later in the Constitution in the Bill of Rights the Founding Fathers gave the states what are called reserve rights- the ability to control all those areas that the federal government doesn’t lay claim to. But when the Congress passes and law and the President of the United States signs the law it is supreme, no matter what level of complaint comes from the states.

Yes, the Constitution does talk about freedom and rights and controls on government, but within that wonderful document of restraint, Congress and the federal government are given responsibilities and powers to make decisions and to have those decisions be the law of the land. Americans throughout history have registered their disagreement with public policies but it is the Tea Partiers who ignorantly use the Constitution as their basis for questioning the legality of the Congress and the President to push forward with their agenda. They are wrong.