There are many awful interpretations of the United States Constitution by the Supreme Court. For example, the Hugo Black interpretation of the First Amendment to suddenly include a “Separation of Church and State” into the amendment that didn’t exist in any precedent, or federalist papers. In one stroke, he completely changed the Constitution. What was once “Freedom *OF* Religion” became “Freedom *FROM* Religion.”
Or take the recent Supreme Court rulings against the Second Amendment, where instead of ruling that there can be no limits on the Right to Bear Arms, like the Second Amendment says, states and local municipalities are allowed to limit the Right to Bear Arms. There should be an entity above the Supreme Court that is able to purge their unconstitutional rulings on the spot, and punish those court members for getting it wrong.
But there is one ruling that has had a worse effect than all the other Supreme Court rulings. And that is of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. To understand the Commerce Clause, you need to understand the history of the United States at the founding.
After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the United States came together not under the Constitution, but under the Articles of Confederation. Unlike the Constitution that had a strong, centralized Federal Government with the States having a seat at the table, the Confederate States had each of the States having an equal share of power, with the Federal Government having a seat at the State’s table. Basically it was a government by state committee, instead of a centralized government with state input and participation.
The Confederated States of America was an abysmal failure. As with any committee run by perfect equals across the board, everyone thought they were the best and could do everything they wanted. Each state started minting their own money. They started writing their own decrees and tax laws. And most importantly, they started to levy taxes and tariffs on the other states as goods were shipped and sold across state borders.
The entire economy of the Confederated States of America folded like a cheap tent. When each individual state’s economy crashed, they started levying heavier and heavier taxes on their own economies, and worse tariffs on imports. (Sound familiar? Side Note: There was actually one state that chose not to do this and thrived under the CSA. That state was Rhode Island. Not coincidentally, Rhode Island didn’t want to participate in the Constitutional Convention.)
So come time to have a second try at writing our controlling documents for the future of the United States, the founding fathers came up with this:
“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”
Unironically, when it says that the federal government has the power to regulate Commerce among the several states, it means exactly that. And no more. It does not mean that the Federal Government gets to do whatever it wants. It does NOT mean that the Federal Government can interfere with business and industry. it does NOT mean that the Federal Government gets to crush business under onerous regulations. It does NOT mean that if the Federal Government passes a law or regulation that it gets sole authority, and power to rule on that forever more.
Knowing the history of our Country, it EXPLICITLY means that the States are not allowed to tax and tariff each other. Nothing more.
What is ironic is that the Commerce Clause has been perverted to the ends of Earth and back, and that the very one thing it was written to prevent is allowed to continue. For example, recently States have begun taxing out of state purchases on the internet. This is explicitly forbidden in the United States Constitution!
In my opinion, far more damage has been done to our country with this mal-interpretation of the US Constitution than any other bumbling idiot’s misinterpretation.
Hi all! Sorry for the lack of updates. Business has been picking up (from nothing to something), and while I have a lot of essay ideas floating around, I wasn’t able to sit down and finish one until this post.