Time: Sat Jul 12 17:18:32 1997
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Date: Sat, 12 Jul 1997 17:16:58 -0700
To: Jean Westphal <kidogo@ionet.net>
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Where did I hear this idea first?

>by John F. McManus
>All who hold the U.S. Constitution in high regard will applaud the
>action taken recently by House of Representatives. On January 7th, 1997
>the full House,acting under constitutional provision that each House of
>Congress "determine the rules of its proceedings," created a new rule
>which stated:
>"Each report of a committee on a bill or joint resolution of a public
>character shall include a statement citing the specific powers granted
>to Congress in the Constitution to enact the law proposed by the bill or
>joint resolution."
>members of the House of Representatives will henceforth be required
>under Rule XI, Subparagraph (4), to cite the Constitution and add a
>"Constitutional authority statement" to each proposal they introduce.
>Not content with mere wording of its new rule, the House Rules
>committee, led by Gerald Solomon (R-NY), offered its own analysis of the
>new mandate. The January 7th CONGRESSIONAL RECORD contains the
>committee's urging  that House members refrain from referring to several
>portions of the Constitution that have been widely but improperly cited
>in past as justification for unconstitutional programs. While
>acknowledging that proposed legislation springs from the actions of
>other House committees, the Rules Committee cautions: "It  is expected
>that committees will  not rely on the so called 'elastic' or 'necessary
>and proper' clause and that they will not cite the preamble to the
>Constitution as a specific power granted to the Congress by the
>If this expectation is met, then some large loopholes through  which the
>federal power-grabbing  wagon has been driven will now be closed.
>However, the rules committee does not consider itself authorized to
>judge  the propriety of any claim of constitutionality presented to it.
>Some congressmen will surely continue to torture the meaning and intent
>of the Constitution,But the simple requirement that a "Constitutional 
>Authority Statement" be attached to each proposal will encourage each
>member of Congress, and the public at large, to become familiar with
>what the Constitution does and does not allow.
>During the 1995-96 session of Congress, Representative John Shadegg
>(R-AZ) sought to have this constitutional Authority statement mandated
>by his proposed H.R. 2270. he gained 103 co-sponsors for the measure,
>but it died for lack of support among the Republican leadership. Even if
>the bill had won passage in the House, it  would of faced an uphill
>struggle for approval by the Senate and the President.
>But the now-accomplished House action -- which Solomon was able to
>achieve with the enthusiastic support of Representative Pomobo (R-CA)
>and others - promises to be a less cumbersome and even more effective
>route to the goal sought by Shadegg, Pomobo,Solomon, and other concerned
>congressmen. True, the House can still suspend or replace any rule by
>which the House has bound itself. But there can't be that many
>congressmen who will openly cast a vote to ignore the Constitution.
>Henceforth, members of the House will be forced to refer to the
>Constitution when initiating legislation.some will undoubtedly continue
>to introduce unconstitutional measures, but now they will be forced to
>expose their contempt for the document --- and their oath to abide by 
>it -- to fellow congressmen and the public. We can only wonder what
>clause in the Constitution will be mentioned as the supplier of
>authorization for foreign aid, educational funding, subsidized housing
>By virtue of of this most welcome rules change, the Constitution has
>been rescued from being considered a venerable  but meaningless antique.
>And the American people have been given a new tool with which to judge
>both legislators and their legislation.
>The red flag the Rules Committee raised with respect to reliance on the
>"elastic" or "necessary and proper" clause and the preamble reflects its
>understanding  of the limiting features of the Constitution. the
>"elastic clause, which appears in Article I, Section 8 at the end of a
>list of congressional powers,recognizes that Congress has all the
>authority to "make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for
>carrying into execution the foregoing powers vested by their
>Constitution in the Government of the United States ..."While both the
>the power and the limitations contained  in that statement are easy to
>grasp, big-government promoters customarily cite this clause for
>authorization to make virtually any kind of law imaginable. (It has come
>to be referred to as the "elastic" clause because its true meaning has
>been stretched almost beyond recognition.) The preamble's general
>statement of the purposes for the Constitution has been similarly
>According to conventional wisdom,congressmen are empowered to legislate
>in all but a few areas specifically prohibited by the Constitution. Yet
>exactly the opposite is true: The Founders clearly intended all federal
>authority to be tied specifically to the Constitution. This is what the
>Tenth amendment resoundingly restates.
>The rule holds some promise of reinstating limitations on federal power.
>Thanks are in order to Solomon and other members of the House who on
>January 7th, 1997, approved the package of rules under which they will
>operate for the next two years.
>-> Send "subscribe   snetnews " to majordomo@world.std.com
>->  Posted by: William Bacon <wbacon@voicenet.com>

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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