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Tragedy for a great nation: Republicans attempt to revive U.S. Constitution with Enumerated Powers Act

Civil War era envelope. (Image: U.S. Library of Congress)Most people, when they learn about a new law, don’t think to consider the law in the context of powers listed and limited in the U.S. Constitution. For extra measure, founders added the Bill of Rights.

Yet laws are often made without Congress and presidents making sure the laws are legal. The most recent example of an illegitimate law is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act commonly called ObamaCare.

Three Republican senators are trying to do something about the issue in an attempt to return the republic to a Constitutional basis: Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Toomey (R-Pa.) issued a statement saying he’s “championing legislation to hold members of Congress accountable to constitutional limitations.”

Toomey is co-sponsoring the Enumerated Powers Act of 2013 (S. 1404), a bill by Coburn and Paul, which requires that every bill Congress passes will state which part of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the legislation.

Coburn told a talk show host why he believes the bill is so important:

All it says is when you're going to pass a bill, justify it by relating to the constitution where you get the power to do that. Because we wouldn't be $17 trillion in debt if we actually followed the constitution. What our founders set as a very limited government. We wouldn't be there. We are in a mess. I call it the kindergarten in Washington because we really lack leadership and what we have is selfish desires for political power, rather than thoughtful consideration about what's in the best long-term interest of our country as a whole and what are we putting at risk when we don't have the leadership that redirects us to think long term and also think in terms of the limited government. I think our kids are a great risk right now.

Paul said:

"When I ran for the Senate, one of my promises was to fight to pass an Enumerated Powers Act…Politicians in Washington should abide by their oath to uphold the Constitution by only legislating within the powers it gives to the federal government. I am proud to be the lead co-sponsor of Sen. Coburn's bill to make this a reality."

Toomey summed up the bill:

The Enumerated Powers Act of 2013 does the following:

1) Requires each Act of Congress, bill, resolution, conference report and amendment to "contain a concise explanation of the specific authority in the Constitution" that is the basis for its enactment.

2) Prohibits the use of the Commerce Clause, except for "the regulation of the buying and selling of goods or services, or the transporting for those purposes, across boundaries with foreign nations, across State lines, or with Indian tribes..."

3) Allows a point of order to be raised in either House of Congress for bills that fail to cite constitutional authority.

It’s a tragedy that a country as great as the U.S. has illegally abandoned the document that secures liberty for all of us. It’s a tragedy that this bill is of critical importance—an imperative for those whose eyes are open.

This bill and the underlying issue should be the keynote message for Republicans in 2014 and 2016. Congress and presidents cannot do as they please and we have tolerated that approach for far too long.

It’s likely Democrats will fight the bill, given their penchant for enacting laws that not only jeopardize liberty but also erode personal wealth and instill divisiveness under the sophistic banner of “social justice.”

(Analysis by Kay B. Day/Aug. 2, 2013)

Read articles about the U.S. Constitution in archives at The US Report.

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