My Problem with the World

A few hundred years ago a group of people decided that their government was not listening to what they wanted and decided to go off and form their own country. Once they won independence, they started the country off with the articles of confederation which was basically that the states had all the power, and the national government was neutered and ineffectual. Realizing that the federal government needed some power if the union of states was to stay together as a cohesive body, they wrote and enacted the constitution. The constitution is a document which specifically grants the federal government certain powers and states that if the power is not listed then the federal government cannot govern in that area. The state is supposed to govern that area in accordance with the will of the people of that state.

So here is my problem. There is great national debate and movements by parties on both sides to get congress to pass legislation that either prohibits or allows certain actions which are not areas in which the federal government should regulate. I will give two examples. No where in the constitution does it grant congress the right to regulate marriage. Marriage must be regulated, but since congress should not be able to, each individual state should make the decision on what it is going to regulate. Now, for the sake of presenting both sides, activists for gay marriage say that all states should be required to allow gay marriage as part of the fourteenth amendment's equal protection clause. Second, abortion. There is no provision that grants the federal government the right to regulate reproduction. Any regulation in that area should come from the states. Again, for the sake of presenting both sides, supporters of abortion rights say that it exists in the right to privacy which is not specifically numerated but is kind of encompassed by all the bill of rights.

So this problem has led me to wonder, our founding fathers choose to limit the reach of the federal government for fear that a federal government with unlimited power would cease to be able to represent the desires of the people. They felt that a state which did not have as diverse a population could keep more people happy more of the time. I think we can see the same thing today with abortion. While the country is fairly evenly split on abortion, on a state level there is a much clearer consensus in every state.

Now to preempt your comments. I dont care if you are in favor of abortion rights or not, this isnt about that. Ditto for gay marriage. Also I understand the state of current supreme court jurisprudence and I know what they think about the issue I am raising. I simply want the answer to my question, "Why should the federal government be allowed to govern areas of our lives in which they have no specific power to govern? Why shouldnt they first be required to get our permission by amending the constitution so that they can legally govern in that area?"

No comments: