Constitutional Authority Statements

I was getting ready to write something about the new Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA for short – couldn’t get another O in there, guys?), and its intersection with the free market, libertarianism more generally, and the liberal idea of how freedom really works.

Instead, I got totally sidetracked. I headed over to THOMAS (one of my favorite resources) to look up the actual text of the bill so I might have something interesting to say, looked up the bill (H.R. 5050, if you’re curious), and I noticed the link to the “constitutional authority statement”. I had forgotten these things even happened any more, so I clicked on it to see what came up, and I found:

Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant to the following:
Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution.

Huh. Okay. That, of course, doesn’t make any sense, since here is the full text of Article I, Section I:

All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

That’s not much of a power! Anyway, I guess this is well-trod ground, but I had just forgotten this practice existed at all. Given that I’m probably somewhere around the top 0.5% in terms of political interest, that’s probably not a great sign.

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12 thoughts on “Constitutional Authority Statements

  1. And the funny thing is that this particular bill falls reasonably close to “interstate commerce” as well as military and national security issues, both of which are areas where, if invoked reasonably, Federal authority would functionally unquestioned. I have to imagine that this bit of drafting is the result of laziness rather than avoidance.

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    • One time, back in the old days when I was going to school, I was writing this paper for some class, and I wanted to use the word ‘dilemma.’
      I couldn’t remember if it had 2 L’s or 2 M’s, so I pulled out my little paperback dictionary to look it up.
      I tried both spellings, but the word wasn’t listed.
      The dictionary gave me the definition, even without an entry, when all I wanted was to check the spelling.

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  2. Ryan:

    So I’m still waiting to hear how you came up the idea that Article I, Section I isn’t much power?  Frankly it is a good thing  that Congress has to cite their authority upon which to pass each law.

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