"I consider the foundation of the constitution as laid on this
ground, that 'all powers not delegated to the United States by
the constitution nor prohibited by it to the States, are
reserved to the States or to the people.' (Tenth Amendment) To
take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn
around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a
boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any
~ Thomas Jefferson, September 15, 1791
The Enumerated Powers Doctrine alluded to by Jefferson in the quote above is the bedrock to which our
liberty is anchored. The concept of a limited government with enumerated powers is locked into the
Constitution by the Tenth Amendment.
In spite of this, Government continues to grow. By most measures, our federal government is out of control.
We are rapidly moving toward the transformation from a constitutional republic into an European style
New socialist policies from Washington threaten the financial stability of the country and the liberty of future
generations. Many patriotic Americans are feeling a sense of helplessness as they see the direction we are
going as a nation.
This departure from traditional American principles stems from widespread ignorance of our founding
principles and a disdain for our Constitution by our elected officials. As conservatives we understand the
importance of a limited government. What we often overlook is the means provided by the Founders for
limiting its size and scope, the doctrine of enumerated powers.
We cannot depend on the courts, or our elected officials to enforce adherence to the Constitution and the
Constitution does not contain a remedy for its violation other than removal from office by the voters. This
remedy has proven inadequate due to the power amassed by the two major political parties and the amount
of money they are willing to spend to influence the vote of the uninformed. In the final analysis it is up to
voters to hold our lawmakers accountable, and simply attempting to vote them out of office is not enough.
The quickest way to reverse our headlong rush into socialism is a return the doctrine of enumerated powers.
However, if the lawmakers in Congress and officials in the Administration did suddenly begin to honor their
oath of office to "protect and defend the Constitution", it will take generations to undo the unconstitutional
programs and regulations imposed by Congress over the past half century. On the other hand, if we do not
start immediately we are running the risk of fiscal ruin and personal servitude to the state.
Congressman John Shadegg introduced the "Enumerated Powers Act" (H.R. 450) into the 111th Congress on
January 9, 2009 with six co-sponsors. The bill "requires that all bills introduced in the U.S. Congress include
a statement setting forth the specific constitutional authority under which the law is being enacted." Rep.
Shadegg has been introducing the same bill in every session of Congress beginning with the 104th.
However, his vote for the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" in October of 2008 may indicate H.R. 450 is
more of a political "stunt" than a sincere effort to return Congress to the enumerated powers doctrine. On
October 3, 2008 Shadegg released the following statement to justify his vote for the original bailout bill.
The Enumerated Powers Project is a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the Constitutional limitations
on Congress' Power to a level that cannot be ignored. We are calling on everyone interested in a smaller
government or who are concerned about the unprecedented expansion in the power and scope of
government, to become actively involved in the effort.
Our ultimate goal is to make the Constitutionality of Congressional actions the subject of every floor debate in
both the House and Senate, a question asked of elected officials in every interview on radio and TV and a
continuing topic of discussion on local and national talk shows. When the concept of a limited government
with powers limited to those delegated to it by the Constitution becomes a part of the national consciousness
we will see a major change in the willingness of politicians to abuse their power of office.
Call, write or e-mail your elected representatives at every opportunity. Contact your favorite TV or talk radio
host. The continuing question is "Where in the Constitution is justification found for the federal
government's involvement in___________?"
Senate: U. S. Senate
House of Representatives: U.S. House
White House: White House
Information on progress of bills before Congress: Open Congress
Senate Phone: 202-224-2854 Dirksen Building
202-224-2152 Hart Building
House Phone: 202-224-3121
White House Phone: Comments: 202-456-1111
“Because of the fear gripping our economy, Congress must act.
While I do not like the structure of this bill, doing nothing would
be worse. Were we to fail to act to calm the market and ease
the fears of an economic collapse, Americans who did not
cause this crisis would lose their jobs. That is a fact.”
Enumerated Powers Project
|The Illinois Conservative