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Government? Agents!

The idea that government officers and employees are our public servants is pretty much accepted by everyone. Everyone, it seems, except government officers and employees. Their typical overbearing manners and arrogant intrusion into our personal lives clearly show they believe that we are the servants. To be sure, that is the ultimate destination of the course we are traveling, and we are on that course because of our own failure to recognize and prevent the mutiny of our ship of state.

Part of the problem is due to a lack of understanding about the real nature of the public servant which is our government. Perhaps because the term servant is not the most accurate one for the relationship. It evokes ideas of servitude, such as with a maid, a butler, or a chauffeur—someone to do your bidding. This leads to the idea of superiority over your servants. But this is a two-edged sword. Once the idea of having superiority over your servants is entrenched, the servants set to work subverting the order of things, so that they might become master, with the superiority that comes with such status. It is only natural that a person whose interests are subverted by some advantage working against him, will (once he is aware of it) work to secure that advantage to himself. So we shouldn’t be surprised.

This article will explore the true relationship between the government and the people, and in turn, how that relationship is embodied in the Constitution. With that as a foundation, concepts of sovereign and delegated powers, sovereign immunity, and general welfare can be understood in their proper context. If more of the population really understood these things, the government’s claims of authority—to regulate firearm ownership or mandate toilet flow rates, for example—would be seen as the absurdities they are. And perhaps then, we can turn our ship of state around, and return to the kind of Constitutional government that free people can enjoy.

 

Servants vs. agents

Agent. A person authorized by another (principal) to act for or in place of him; one intrusted with another’s business. Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition.

 

The system of government established by the Constitution is based upon the model of an agent, rather than a servant. An agent is an equal, not an inferior. But most importantly, an agent has no inherent authority—all authority comes to him by way of specific delegation. That is, if I engage an agent for myself, then the only duties or authorities he may undertake in my name are those which I have specifically given to him. He may not decide, on his own initiative, that it would be better if he should exercise some greater or different powers. He is permanently limited to the stated authorities, until such time as I might decide to expand or contract them.

Another important point is that, as my agent, he has a fiduciary obligation to me to act in my interests at all times. If my interests, in some manner or another, conflict with his own interests, he is still obligated to advance mine over his. Of course, only the rarest of people could be trusted to advance someone else’s interests over their own. So, the reasonable thing to do would be to reveal any conflict of interests which may exist, so that each person could properly protect their individual interests. However, proper planning in framing the granted authorities is the best protection against such an occurrence. A thoughtful person would only grant those authorities which presented no such conflicts of interest.

 

Who can best decide?

Naturally, there are other factors to consider when delegating powers to an agent. The first and foremost consideration is whether the authority can be better exercised through an agent, rather than directly by yourself. After all, the majority of decisions you are called upon to make are best decided by you personally. Obviously, you do not need an agent to tell you when it is best for you to eat or sleep, or with whom and for what purposes you might contract with others. Such purely personal interests could not possibly be advanced with complete satisfaction by someone else. Why then delegate the power to decide such matters to a third party? Clearly, your interests are best served in such matters by reserving these powers to yourself.

The point of this is that there is a pretty rational division of authority. In one group are those specific powers it may be useful to have an agent perform; in the other group are all the rest. The great majority are in that second group. And many in the first group, for other various reasons, may also best be reserved. Looked at in this light, a rough indicator of the legitimacy of any action by the agent is the group into which it would fall. Of course, the ultimate proof is the document which delegates the power in the first place.

This concept is the underpinning of our Constitutionally limited government, by the consent of the governed. The Constitution, in fact, is the embodiment of that consent. Through it, We the People agreed to authorize an agent to perform certain functions in the exercise of certain specific powers in our behalf—that is, on our authority. It is this principle of being by our authority which is the basis of limited government. The government can have no power to do anything a private individual could not do on his own behalf. That is because a person cannot delegate powers he does not himself possess.

 

Equal rights

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ...

So says our Declaration of Independence. We recognize that God has created every one of us with equal rights—a few of which are the right to support and defend our own life, and to be free from interference in the pursuit of our personal happiness. Of course, recognizing that every person has these same rights leads directly to the conclusion that they have an inherent limit—they can be exercised only so far as they do not interfere with the equal enjoyment of their rights by every other person. This limit establishes the range within which all individual powers must fall. And it is only from that pool of individual powers that we can choose any to delegate to others.

So any individual, in delegating authority to an agent, is first limited by the equal rights of all other people. Since he has no right to injure the rights of others, he may not authorize his agent to do so. He cannot gain such a right merely by hiring someone else to do it. But, as shown above, the more significant limit is established by the consideration of who can best decide. Taken together, the pool of powers from which those to be delegated are chosen can be seen to be relatively small. But there is yet another important factor.

 

Collective agent

As already noted above, my agent has a fiduciary obligation to act in my best interest with respect to any authority I let him exercise. Any time he acts against my best interest, he violates that fiduciary duty to me. Likewise, your agent owes the same fiduciary obligation to you. But imagine that you and I each happened to authorize the same man to be our individual agent for the purposes of an art auction. It just so happens that both of us have authorized him to bid on a certain painting, up to a certain price. It is easy to see that there is no way he could fulfill the separate obligations he owes to each of us to act in our best interest. No matter what action he took, he must necessarily be working against either my interest or yours. When he bids for me, he causes you to pay more than you otherwise would have needed to; and vice versa. Even if he were to refrain from bidding at all (because he recognized the above conundrum, maybe), he would only succeed in working against both our interests at the same time by failing to do that which we both sent him to do.

This reality establishes the inherent limitation of a collective agent. Since he is obligated to act at all times in the best interests of each and every one of his principals, many of the functions he might be authorized to perform for one principal, are impossible to perform for many principals, without subverting the interests of at least one of them.1 Naturally, each person would best protect his own interests in regards to such functions, by reserving the power to act to himself alone.

Before leaving the discussion of collective agents, it is important to remember that no individual has the power to impair any other individual’s equal enjoyment of his own rights. Having no such power himself, he is incapable of delegating an agent to impair the rights of any other person. Likewise, he can never gain the power to injure another person’s equal rights by merely combining with others who, like himself, have no individual power to do so. Thus, even if all but one person in the country combined their individual powers in a single agent, the resulting collective power to act could still not be exercised to impair the lone holdout’s equal rights. And remember too, every time the collective agent acts, he has a fiduciary obligation to act with equal benefit to every principal.

 

The short list

The limitations introduced by each of the factors discussed so far form the foundation for understanding the nature of our limited government. Our Constitution established a government which exercises its delegated powers in the manner of a collective agent. This is why the Declaration says that free governments deriv[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed.” In other words, our government has only those powers that the people have consented to delegate to it—and no others! If power to act in any capacity has not been explicitly delegated to the government, by way of the Constitution, then the people have not consented to it. Consequently, the government is utterly without power to act in that capacity.

So, to review: the government can exercise only those powers delegated to it by the people; the people can delegate only such power as they personally possess; the power able to be exercised by each individual is limited by the equal enjoyment of every other person in their own rights; there are relatively few individual powers which could be best exercised by an agent; and finally, there are even fewer individual powers which could be effectively exercised by a collective agent. This is why the list of delegated legislative powers in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution is so short. When an agent must act in the individual best interests of hundreds of millions of people, there are hardly any powers which a rational person would delegate to him. And it certainly cannot be said that the Framers of our Republic were irrational men.

 

General welfare

Understanding that concentrated power is inherently dangerous, the Framers agreed on some eighteen important powers deemed to be safe to entrust in the hands of Congress. The first, at Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution, is the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.Naturally, this will be familiar to most readers, since it establishes the uniformity rule for so-called indirect taxes.2 But the point to consider here is the purposes for which the granted power is authorized to be exercised. That is, the power to tax is explicitly limited to three purposes: pay the debts, provide for the common defense, and provide for the general welfare. A tax imposed for one of those three purposes would be valid, whereas a tax imposed for any other reason would be without authority.

These three rather expansive sounding phrases have been notoriously construed as granting separate and independent powers, but in Federalist Paper No. 41, Madison argued that those terms were meant to be a general description of the powers which followed immediately thereafter3 —in Clauses 2 through 18 of Article I, § 8. Providing for the common defense, then, meant paying for the actions taken in pursuance of Clauses 10 through 16. Paying the debts refers to the debts authorized by Clause 2. Providing for the general welfare meant paying for the actions taken pursuant to Clauses 3 through 9, 17 and 18. Taken all together, the only purpose for which a tax might be validly imposed is to pay for the actions taken pursuant to one of the explicit powers delegated in § 8, Clauses 2 through 18. So, any time you hear of some law or another being enacted based solely on the authority of the general welfare clause, you will know that it is null and void. Congress was authorized to act with respect to the general welfare of the country, but only in the particulars explicitly mentioned in the subsequent clauses.

 

Promotion of art and science

There is a similar example in Art. I, § 8, Cl. 8, where Congress is authorized “to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Notice that Congress is not authorized to promote the progress of art by granting some portion of the public money to artists so they will create some art. They are only authorized to promote the arts by enacting laws to secure to authors the exclusive right to their writings for some limited period of time.4 Likewise with science: they are not authorized to promote the progress of science by funding research projects and laboratories. They are authorized to promote science only by securing to an inventor the exclusive right to his discovery for a limited period of time. Any other “promotion” would be without authority.

These limitations are only natural with the use of a collective agent. As already shown, most individual powers of the people are not suitable for delegation to agents, especially collective agents. On the other hand, some (like § 8, Cl. 8) are uniquely suited for the latter. A collective agent can effectively advance the best interests of each and every one of his principals5 by securing to all of them their individual right to the exclusive use of their original inventions and writings. However, when it comes to promoting the arts by spending the money of his principals, it is easy to see how only a handful of people could ever truly have their best interests served—and how all the rest are cheated out of their equal protection of the laws. It is inevitable. Indeed, it is why the limit exists.

Each of the powers delegated in Article I, § 8 must have been considered to bring equal benefit to all people. To say otherwise is to contend that the learned men who framed our government intended to empower it to act against the best interests of some principals to further the interests of others.6 After all, such rational men would surely reserve to themselves those powers which could not be exercised to their individual benefit by a collective agent.7

 

A vote for socialism

Frank Chodorov, in his book Income Tax: The Root of All Evil, made this observation: Popular suffrage is in itself no guarantee of freedom. People can vote themselves into slavery. The same can be said of socialism. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to vote yourself back out. Once the government starts advancing, by the force of law, one person’s interests over another, it becomes nothing more than a free-for-all at the government feed trough. It is the end of any possibility for limited government. This is because there can be no end to the laws Congress (as our collective agent) might pass if the equal benefit and protection of the laws is ignored. There is always some new way by which some person might subvert the law to their personal benefit.8

Instead of few laws concerning those few common interests of all the people, you have volumes of them every year. Common sense tells you that, as limited as the pool of delegated powers must of necessity be (for the reasons discussed above), 225 years should have been plenty of time to enact every conceivable law that could possibly be exercised to the equal benefit of every individual. Yet, every Congress introduces literally thousands of new laws to harass our people and eat out our substance—some that are hundreds or thousands of pages long, and others they are never even given the opportunity to read before voting on them. Clearly, they are out of control. They have violated the limits of their legislative power for many scores of years. And guess what? They are not going to restore those limits on their own initiative.

Unfortunately, a great number of the population will not be willing to return to legitimate government either. They are ones who have managed to corrupt the law to generate some individual benefit (or at least profit from the corruption introduced by others), rather than the equal benefit required by the fiduciary obligations of collective agents to each of their principals. As Frederic Bastiat might say, they are actively engaged in legalized plunder, or spoliation by law. Once they succeed in subverting the political process in that way, they will never willingly release it. In fact, since every group of beneficiaries has an immediate vested interest in continuing or increasing the benefit to themselves, they will fight tooth and nail to prevent the loss of that political control.

Thus, whichever political group is able to wrest control of the machinery of government for a couple of years permanently rewards itself and its constituents from the public funds. Of course, this can never last long. Alexander Tytler described this process with respect to democracies: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.” It is applicable to our situation because when the limitations manifested by the equal rights of all men are removed, you are essentially left with the trappings of a democracy—i.e., tyranny by the majority. No person’s rights can ever be secure if they are subject to abridgement by a vote.

Perhaps a parallel to this concept can be seen in the perpetuation of bureaucracies. Every person associated with a bureaucracy has a vested interest in keeping their job, which becomes more of a factor in its operation than the purpose for which it was originally created. For example, the Drug Enforcement Agency is presumably tasked with eliminating the scourge of illegal drugs. Ignoring the fact that the federal government has no authority in this regard, the elimination of such drugs would likewise eliminate the need for the agency. But do you suppose that the head of the DEA really wants to give up his large government paycheck and his control over so many people (not only in his agency, but all those who come under their scrutiny) due to his success at stemming the drug tide? Hardly. In fact, it might even be supposed that his personal interests would best be served if the drug problem got worse, so that his agency got more appropriations and more staff. It is this same dynamic that we run up against when trying to vote ourselves out of socialism—the vested personal interests of those who benefit from legalized plunder.

 

Sovereign powers

Our Constitution perfected representative limited government by incorporating the principle of equal rights and consensually delegated powers. An important part of that is the recognition of the sovereignty of the people. There were to be no kings over us. Instead, we were each to be kings, albeit without subjects. The individual powers each of us possess are properly sovereign powers (as exercised within the limits already discussed). For our personal convenience and individual (as well as mutual) benefit, certain of our individual sovereign powers were delegated to collective agents, while the vast majority of our powers we reserved to ourselves. Thus, the powers delegated to Congress by the Constitution are sovereign powers. Indeed, they are our individual sovereign powers.

But that situation apparently does not suit our agents in the federal government. They insist that our government (and, in fact, any government) has certain sovereign powers of its own. Of course, the idea of inherent sovereign powers in a limited government of explicitly delegated powers is a contradiction in terms. The two are mutually exclusive. Any government deemed to possess powers other than those consented to be granted by the governed is not a free government. It ceases to be an impartial collective agent for each and every principal equally. Now, it has outside interests of its own to protect, and it must always come to pass that those interests will be served first.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24

Any supposed inherent power, not having been granted by the consent of the governed, is likewise not within their power to alter or abolish. The result will always be tyranny. A people who have no means to control their government will sooner or later be controlled by it. And this is precisely why inherent sovereign powers are incompatible with a limited government.9 It can never be seriously contended that our Founders intended to create a government with an uncontrollable inherent power to enslave them (and us), especially considering that they expressly limited its delegated powers.10 A rule of thumb is: if it must be said that any exercised power is an inherent or implied power—being an explicit admission that it is not a delegated power—then the agent cannot exercise it. Any deviation from that simple rule should never be presumed, but should be subject to close scrutiny.

 

Sovereign immunity

The concept of sovereign immunity is just as destructive as inherent sovereign powers. According to this concept, government is immune from suits unless it specifically waives its immunity. It hearkens back to absolute monarchies, whereby it was presumed that kings can never do wrong. At bottom, that grandiose claim turns on a semantic technicality. Since the law in such situations is really nothing more than the expressed will of the king, anything the king wills is—merely by his willing it—legal. In other words, the king can never do anything illegal because his doing something makes it legal.

The ultimate result of this Rex Lex (as opposed to Lex Rex) policy is that no one can have a cause of action against the king. Since the king is always right, anyone who opposes the king must, by default, always be wrong. This makes it impossible to prevail against the king, so no purpose is served by allowing suits to proceed against him. This sovereign immunity from suit then is really just the acknowledgment of the foregone conclusion that every suit against the king must necessarily lose.

Modern governments, including our own, put a lot of stock in sovereign immunity, despite the absurdity of delegating to our collective agent the power to dictate to us the conditions, if any, under which he will deign to answer our inquiries or complaints. It is absurd because it eliminates any chance for accountability of the agent to his principals; and that lack of accountability is no benefit to any principal, let alone all of them. Again, it cannot be argued that our Founders intended to create a government with an uncontrollable inherent power to insulate itself from accountability to the people. Why replace one king with another?

It must be recognized that since the principle of sovereign immunity goes back to kings, it naturally plays very well into the hand of unlimited government. Notice too, that the need for sovereign immunity is largely a result of the expansion of government into the twin wells of powers not delegated and powers not able to be delegated (those not within each person’s individual powers). If government stuck to the short list of authorities in Article 1, § 8, not only would there be a lot fewer laws, there would likewise be a lot fewer causes of action against them. In other words, if they didn’t try to do so much, they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do so much harm. On the other hand, once government crosses the line into legalized plunder, the number of causes must certainly rise, each time a new law legalizes some advantage, first against one group, then against another.

 

Bill of Rights

Understanding the limited nature of collective agents also brings us closer to understanding the further limitations on the exercise of governmental power as a function of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the list of those rights deemed sacred enough to warrant a specific prohibition from government interference. It is the framework for valid government action. All powers delegated to our government agent (by way of the Constitution) must be implemented in such a way as does not infringe on our exercise of these precious rights. It can never rightly be presumed that any right was intended to be diminished as a consequence of delegating some power to the government. On the contrary, our rights must always be considered to be preserved except by explicit language otherwise.

This is not really difficult to see, except perhaps for those with a vested interest in controlling other people’s lives. The whole narrowing process—manifested by considering the agent and collective agent aspects—results in the short list of legislative powers found in Article 1, § 8 of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights then narrows the means by which those few legislative powers are allowed to be exercised. An otherwise legitimate power, exercised in a manner which infringes any of our God-given rights, thereby becomes illegitimate. And so the small pool of delegated powers becomes smaller still.

On the other hand, to the controllers, the hierarchy of rights and powers goes the other way around. That is, the delegated powers are deemed to supersede any right which otherwise might apply, rather than vice versa. A general grant of power—such as the power to regulate commerce among the several States—is construed to supersede specific reservations of rights—such as the right to own and carry firearms. And just as the Anti-Federalists predicted, government eventually came to consider the Bill of Rights as the outer limit to their power. They pretend that they might exercise any conceivable power, if only they can construct some façade of public interest for it. The tiniest shred of connection to a “public interest” is the rationalization used to trump any claim of rights.

However, power-mad tyrants could not be satisfied with merely usurping all powers not specifically prohibited. THEY WILL NEVER HAVE ENOUGH POWER UNTIL THEY HAVE IT ALL! Of course, this is one impetus for the drive to eliminate our individual liberties. If government power is limited only by the rights specifically enumerated in the Constitution, then every decrease in our rights results in an equal increase in governmental power. This is managed in large part by the collusion of the corrupt judiciary, who seem tireless in their efforts to undermine the protection of the rights bestowed on us by our Creator. No right is safe (and by extension, neither is any person) from the sophistry of the courts. The black-robed liberty thieves are always able to discover (fabricate) further restrictions on our rights, but simply cannot conceive of any enforceable limitations on government power. The 9th Amendment11 , just like all the others, is nothing but meaningless words on paper to them.

 

Liberty Works — a vote against socialism

One of the keys to reversing the current march towards socialism is educating the public about the principles of Liberty and the true nature of the inalienable rights God graciously bestowed on each of us. They must be made to understand how the short-term (perceived) benefits derived from legalized plunder actually result in a long-term net loss to them, and especially to their children and grandchildren. As Esau learned, selling your birthright for a bowl of pottage, even if you are starving, is no bargain in the long run. The government funds its massive give-away programs by saddling your descendants with massive debt, or crushing taxation, or asset-eroding inflation, or a combination of all three. Of course, this is nothing more than the principle that everything government gives to someone must first be taken away from someone else.

When the law is used to benefit some at the expense of others, the natural result is disrespect for law. And when respect for the law evaporates, anarchy reigns. The same can be seen with the public’s perception of police. When they were considered to be protectors of citizen’s rights, they engendered respect for themselves and for law generally. But as they begin to be used as the force to support the growing totalitarianism, the respect for them and for the law is turning to disdain. Yet police feel justified in their oppression because it is done under the color of law, as if that were synonymous with righteousness. To stem this growth of disrespect for law, people must be educated in the principles of limited government, so that they will be able to discern Constitutional laws from unconstitutional ones. Then it will become apparent to them that our legislatures spend most of their time pursuing matters over which they have been delegated no authority whatsoever. And they will be better able to conceive the real benefits of a government whose only legitimate function is the protection of our equal individual rights.

Of course, this leads to the question of how education of this type might be accomplished. Certainly, these principles are not being taught in the public school systems; no mention of them is made on the nightly mass media news programs. So what can a freedom-loving individual do to promote the proper education of his countrymen? He or she can join with us by becoming a member of the Liberty Works Radio Network Fellowship, and convincing others to do the same. The Liberty Works Radio Network will have programming that is essential to restoring and maintaining the health of our Republic — and it will be broadcasting it all day, every day. Go towww.libertyworksradionetwork.com for more information, including the plan that will allow us to reach the necessary multitudes with information sure to convince them to help turn our country around. By the time you read this, Liberty Works Radio Network should already be on the air. With your help, it could soon be broadcasting in your area, too.


 

1 Of course, a single agent might adequately act in the best interests of a group of people who have agreed to subvert their individual interests to a single agenda. However, that is not what our Constitution does.

2 The term “indirect taxes” is not used in the Constitution. Rather, it is just construed as the equivalent of “duties, imposts, and excises,” the mutually exclusive complement of “direct taxes.”

3 See the last four paragraphs of Federalist Paper No. 41 for Madison’s explanation

4 In fact, this limit shows what the Framers must have meant by the term “useful arts.”

5 Each and every honest one that is.

6 To be sure, the Framers did not intend to protect the inalienable rights of slaves; yet since they were not considered to be principals, a collective agent would have had no fiduciary obligation to them.

7 It is axiomatic that collective agents become less able to function as the number of principals increase. This is central to the structure of state and local governments as well. The fewer principals (constituents) there are, the more likely every principal’s best interests can be served. The flip side of that same coin is that the closer your agent is to you, the more power you might be willing to delegate to him. And conversely, the farther away your agent is from you, the less power he should be entrusted with, lest the distance make his memory of your interests fade.

8 Mandatory automobile insurance laws are an example that comes immediately to mind.

9 It is no coincidence that the inherent sovereign powers the government claims are ones which work against the interests of the people (principals) and for the interest of unaccountable government (agents). In Maryland, when the people refused to amend the state constitution to allow for the imposition of an income tax, the legislature enacted one anyway, claiming that the power to tax (presumably without any limits whatsoever) was an inherent attribute of all sovereigns, and was not dependent on any grant of authority from the people. The highest court of our state agreed. See Oursler v. Tawes , 178 Md. 471, 482 (1940). 

10 Of course, the limitation by itself can never prevent the government from acting otherwise. That can only be accomplished by an informed public, actively and jealously guarding their rights against the usurpations of grasping agents.

11 “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

 
 


 

 From Federalist Paper No. 41 by Madison:

Some, who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have grounded a very fierce attack against the constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States,” amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power, which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defence or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labour for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction.

Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the congress been found in the constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some colour for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms “to raise money for the general welfare.”

But what colour can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms, immediately follows; and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it; shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural or common, than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars, which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection, or on the authors of the constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter.

How difficult it is for error to escape its own condemnation.

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