Questionable Constitutional Authority Statement
of the Week
- Bill: .R. 4040, To provide for the award of a gold medal on behalf of Congress to Jack Nicklaus in recognition of his service to the Nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf
- Introduced by: Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA)
- Constitutional Authority Statement: “Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant to the following: Clause 18 of Section 8 of Article 1 of the Constitution--To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States or in any Department or Officer thereof.”
Why this is an inadequate explanation: This statement actually does mention a specific clause in the Constitution; however, this is not sufficient because the clause mentioned does not grant Congress the power to pass this legislation. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 allows Congress to pass legislation which might be necessary and proper for carrying into execution one of the powers granted to it by the Constitution. This clause is not in and of itself a power; instead, it modifies one of the foregoing powers granted to the Congress. This clause cannot be cited as a justification alone because it is dependent upon a separate power granted by the Constitution. However, this Constitutional Authority Statement does not provide any such separate power upon which this clause depends.
How to fix this statement: A better Constitutional Authority Statement would need to explain from where in the Constitution the Congress derives the authority to pass this particular legislation. It could do so by citing another section of the Constitution which specifically grants Congress a relevant power. At this point the Constitutional Authority Statement could include the ‘necessary and proper’ clause if need be. Preferably the statement would also include a sentence of explanation for each clause of the Constitution mentioned.
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