One of the reasons the states wanted a limited national government was to avert the tendency of governments to increase in power and authority. It’s no wonder that the Constitution is a very short document. The more it said on a subject, the more authority the government would have.
The national government only had powers that were listed in the document. To ensure the limited nature of these powers, the states insisted on a Bill of Rights. The Ninth1 and Tenth2 Amendments are direct evidence that that states were fearful of their newly constructed national government.
Some founders did not want any more added to the Constitution. Their reasoning was sound. For example, in Federalist 84, Alexander Hamilton asked, “Why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?” In similar fashion James Madison explained to Thomas Jefferson, “I conceive that in a certain degree . . . the rights in question are reserved by the manner in which the federal powers are granted” by Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution which lists them.
We have come a long way from those days. Now we have “agencies,” like the IRS, that are independent of the Constitution’s limitations. While the Constitution gives no authority to any government official to pry into the political affairs of an individual or organization, now we’re learning that the Tea Parties are under scrutiny. Colleen Owens, spokeswoman for the Richmond (Va.) Tea Party, writing in Big Government gives the background:
In January and February of this year, the Internal Revenue Service began sending out letters to various local Tea Parties across the country. Mailed from the same Cincinnati, Ohio IRS office, these letters have reached Tea Parties in Virginia, Hawaii, Ohio, and Texas (we are hearing of more daily). There are several common threads to these letters: all are requesting more information from these independent Tea Parties in regard to their nonprofit 501(c)(4) applications (for this type of nonprofit, donations are not deductible). While some of the requests are reasonable, much of them are strikingly onerous and, dare I say, Orwellian in nature.
Consider these requests: “Please identify your volunteers” and “are there board members or officers who have run or will run for office (including relatives)”? It’s none of the IRS’s business. To ask these questions, coming from the IRS, can make someone think twice of continuing as a Tea Party member. Everybody fears an audit.
Here’s the most blatantly tyrannical part of all of this. A letter was sent to IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman. It was signed by six Senators. The letter “requests that the commissioner investigate 501(c)(4) groups to determine whether they are engaging in substantial campaign activity, including opposition to any candidate. Who signed this letter? Senators Schumer, Franken, Udall, Shaheen, Whitehouse, Merkley and Bennet — all Democrats.”
Black Panthers can intimidate voters and an organization like Acorn can use our money to influence elections, but ordinary citizens don’t you dare organize peacefully with your own money to bring our nation back to constitutional sanity.
- “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” [↩]
- “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” [↩]