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Sen. Mike Lee explains how this one misinterpreted clause of the Constitution could make Congress' power unlimited (Video)

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Liberty or tyranny?

Sen. Mike Lee believes that crucial portions of our Constitution have been lost that must be restored in order for America to remain free, secure and prosperous.

In connection therewith, he has written an accessible and enjoyable new book "Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America's Founding Document" in order to illustrate through the power of story how and why these portions of our Constitution came about, are so essential to the fabric of America and Western civilization itself, and what we can do to breathe life back into them.

Perhaps one of the most dramatic episodes of willful subversion that Sen. Lee documents involves the Tenth Amendment and the Supreme Court's reading of the Commerce Clause, a subversion that I had the opportunity to ask the senator to elaborate on during an in-depth interview. Here is what the senator said:

[sharequote align="center"]"[W]e need to restore the Tenth Amendment so that it means something again"[/sharequote]

We have to view the powers of Congress and the 10th Amendment as sort of two sides of the same coin.

The 10th Amendment says in effect that any power that's not given to Congress is retained by the states or by the people.

And so that begs the question: What powers are given to Congress?

And if any of those powers in isolation or all of those powers hooked together are open-ended -- if they're limitless -- then the Tenth Amendment means nothing.

[instory-book ISBN="9781591847779"]

Now generally we don't look at any provision of the Constitution with an eye toward saying that it means nothing.

And certainly wouldn't be the case with the Tenth Amendment, so what does it mean? There has to be some limit on the powers of Congress in order for the Tenth Amendment not to mean nothing.

There's a big problem with that in that since 1937, as I explain in my book, the Supreme Court has interpreted one provision of the [Constitution] ... Article One Section 8 Clause 3, also known as the Commerce Clause -- the part that gives Congress the power to regulate commerce, or trade, between the states with foreign nations and with Indian tribes -- the Supreme Court has interpreted the Commerce Clause since April 12, 1937 so broadly that it's almost open-ended.

In other words, the Supreme Court since 1937 his said that Congress may regulate not only interstate commercial transactions and channels, or instrumentalities of interstate commerce like interstate airways, airwaves, waterways and so forth, but but also may regulate any activity that when measured in the aggregate has a substantial effect on interstate commerce.

Now if all of that has put you to sleep, or if you're thinking what on Earth is all that legalese, it basically means Congress can regulate anything it wants -- as long as it can identify some kind of a hook, some kind of a connection to interstate commerce. Which in turn means that in effect the power of Congress is unlimited. Which in turn means in effect that there's almost nothing left of the Tenth Amendment.

Well, I think that's a big problem, and I think we need to restore the Tenth Amendment so that it means something again. The only way to do that is to restore the concept that the individual powers granted to Congress are in fact limited. So we need to focus the attention to the public back on the Commerce Clause, on what it was intended to do, what it what is there to do.

During our conversation, which you can also download and listen to in full below, I had a chance to ask Sen. Lee about a variety of other topics including:

 

Note: The link to the book in this post will give you an option to elect to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sale to a charity of your choice. Mercury One, the charity founded by TheBlaze’s Glenn Beck, is one of the options. Donations to Mercury One go towards efforts such as disaster relief, support for education, support for Israel and support for veterans and our military. You can read more about Amazon Smile and Mercury One here.

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