In recent discussions, it's become clear that many people aren't really that familiar with the US constitution. This is a shame because it's actually not very long.
The constitution is broken into two parts. The first part lists the explicit powers the government has. The second part are the amendments, two of which are designed to make it bloody clear that only the explicitly named powers listed are things the federal government can do.
The recently passed ACA was held as constitutional only because the court narrowly decided that the government had the power to tax people based on whether they have insurance or not.
Most of the runaway government comes from the 3rd item below known also as the "commerce clause". It's amazing at how one little chink in the armor has been exploited so massively. The word "regulate" has been tortured into all kinds of things.
Similarly, the 16th amendment has been tortured to give the federal government all kinds of weird powers. If you look through the constitution, the only amendment that gives the government more power is the 16th. The rest have been put in to reduce federal power. And two of the amendments were put in there as a "We aren't kidding, seriously, No joking, only the 16 enumerated powers are things the feds can do. Really!"
Since some people seem to be confused as to what the federal government is legally allowed to do here is a list:
- The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
- To borrow on the credit of the United States;
- To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
- To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
- To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
- To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
- To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
- To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
- To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
- To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
- To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
- To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
- To provide and maintain a Navy;
- To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
- To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
- To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
- The federal government may not pass laws limiting your speech or establish an official religion.
- The federal government may not prevent you from buying a gun.
- The "" may not quarter troops in your house.
- The "" may may not search and seize things on a whim but only through search warrants based on probably cause.
- The "" may not force you to incriminate yourself.
- The people have a right to a trial by jury.
- The people also can demand a jury in civil cases.
- No cruel or unnsual punishment allowed.
- Restates, for future progressives, that the federal government can only perform the ENUMERATED rights (we had a whole amendment dedicated to this and it still gets forgotten)
- Restates, for future progressives, again, seriously, NO KIDDING, that the federal government only has those 16 previously enumerated rights and everything else is left to the states. Clear enough? 2 of the 10 bill of rights designed to make sure no future progressive will think that "promote the general welfare" suddenly is a cart blanche new power. Only those 16 powers.
- States are immune from suits from foreigners.
- The Prez and Vice President are no longer the 1st and 2nd place finishers in elections.
- Slavery is now illegal.
- Equal protection of the law and everyone is gauranteed due process.
- All men can vote, regardless of color.
- The government can now collect money via an income tax.
- Senators are now elected by popular vote.
- Alcohol is now illegal.
- Women can now vote too.
- Changes the date when congress and the president come into office.
- Just kidding on the booze, alcohol is legal again.
- You can only serve two terms as President.
- Washington DC gets to have a vote in presidential elections.
- You can't charge people to vote (i.e. no poll taxes).
- Clarifies succession for the presidency.
- 18 year olds can now vote.
- Salary increases for congress dont' go into affect until after the next election
See? Is this really that complicated? The federal government has 16 things it is allowed to do. But for future dumb people, the bill of rights has 2 amendments to emphasize that yes, and truly, only those 16 things are allowed.
So next time someone tells you that the federal government can do anything it wants if it passes congress or if it's popular with the people show them this. Because no, unless they can get the constitution amended to allow whatever their progressive dream they're having, if it's not listed here, it isn't legal unless they can manage to torture the 3rd enumerated power (commerce clause) or the 16th amendment further.
That said, for the most part, your STATE can go nuts.