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Constitution 101: The Supremacy Clause and the Bill of Rights

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Many Americans believe the Bill of Rights apply to state and local governments. Most who hold this position rely on the 14th Amendment and the “incorporation doctrine” to support their position. But some proponents of using federal power to restrict state and local actions through the Bill of Rights use tortured legal reasoning to argue […]

Constitution 101: To Provide for the Common Defense

Army Capt. Devin Ciminero, company commander, attached to Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team, watches his sector while serving as personal security for the civil affairs team speaking with a local school teacher in Alingar district July 13. Laghman PRT's mission was to meet with the Alingar district leaders then perform a final inspection on two construction projects in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane)

The left uses the general welfare clause as its “the federal government can do anything and everything clause.” Meanwhile, the right has turned the phrase “provide for the common defense” into a similar justification for federal overreach. Progressives invoke the general welfare clause to justify all kinds of unconstitutional federal actions, from national healthcare to […]

Executive Orders

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In his first full day in office, Pres. Trump signed a number of executive orders. His actions have rekindled fierce debate on the legitimacy of EOs. A lot of people seem to adopt one of two extremes. On the one hand, many argue the president can legitimately issue executive orders with virtually no limitation. The […]

Constitution 101: A General Government for Limited Purposes

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If you delve into the ratification of the Constitution, you will often see the federal government referred to as the “general government.” This terminology tells us a great deal about how the founding generation understood the role of the government it created, and its relationship to the states and the people. Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary […]

Constitution 101: Executive Power

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Article II of the Constitution defines the role and qualifications of the president. As it does for Congress, the Constitution delegates specific powers and responsibilities to the executive branch – the power of appointment, the power to make treaties with the advice and consent of Congress, veto power, etc. These specific powers are relatively clear […]

Constitution 101: Constitutional Interpretation – Living and Breathing is Dead

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The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.” –James Wilson, Of the Study of Law in the United States, Circa, 1790 Many Americans today view the Constitution as a “living, breathing” document. By living and breathing, they mean the Constitution was written […]

Constitution 101: Privileges and Immunities

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Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution states that “the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.” Often referred to as the “comity clause,” Alexander Hamilton called it “the basis of the union.” In his paper Origins of the Privileges and Immunities of State […]

Constitution 101: First Amendment Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… The establishment clause of the First Amendment probably counts as the provision in the Bill of Rights most twisted from its original purpose. The establishment clause was intended as a further limitation on federal power, prohibiting the establishment of […]