Udall Evades Question of Constitutional Authority

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Udall Evades Question
of Constitutional Authority

by Ari Armstrong, April 8, 2000

Even though Congressman Mark Udall has sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, he was unable to answer a simple question pertaining to the Constitutional authority of some of his proposals.

Udall held a town meeting at the Westminster City Council Chambers building April 8 from 10:30 to 11:30 am. He greeted around 60 constituents and chatted with them before the meeting came to order. He called on me to ask the first question.

I quoted part of the flyer which advertised the meeting. In that document, Udall writes:

I have taken your advice back to Washington to work for a better education system [and] quality and affordable health care... I also have been looking for ways that the federal government can help local communities deal with urban sprawl and growth.

My question was simple: Where does the Constitution grant the federal government the authority to pass ANY legislation pertaining to those issues?

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution expressly lays out the responsibilities of the federal government. Nowhere does the Constitution grant the federal government authority to legislate on matters of education, health care, or urban growth. Further, Article Ten of the Bill of Rights expressly forbids the federal government from undertaking any action not explicitly authorized. That Bill reads:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

In other words, the Constitution tells federal politicians to keep their noses out of most local affairs.

But Udall just doesn't get it. Perhaps he is "Constitutionally challenged." His lengthy "answer" to my question was completely evasive and pathetic.

He invoked the principle of "e pluribus unum" (out of many, one), but he didn't even try to explain what relevance that has to my question. He invoked the principle of "balance of power." Yet the Founding Fathers sought to create balance specifically by restricting the power of the federal government.

Udall also cited "precedent" that federal government can legislate on such matters. However, I pointed out that "precedent" from the 1900s hardly has bearing on Constitutional matters. I asked him specifically to point out the relevant section of the Constitution that authorizes his proposals -- he was unable to do so, because the Constitution makes no such authorization.

Indeed, Udall's argument boiled down to a single proposition: "Everybody else is doing it." But the fact that previous politicians have violated the Constitution is hardly a justification for continued federal usurpations.

Udall took numerous other questions through the hour. On one question he gave a pretty good answer. A Chinese American asked whether he supports the "normalization" of trade with China. He said no because of concerns over human rights. Instead, he favors keeping the annual vote in order to keep pressure on China.

One gentleman from the audience commented that the socialized Canadian health care system is a disaster. Udall expressed support for some expansion of federal health programs, though he in no way advocated whole-scale nationalization of the industry.

Another man reminded Udall that, with all federal spending, "It's our money, Mark." Amen.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com