Ep. 34: U.S. Constitution – Article I, Section 8 – Limited Powers of Congress, Part 6

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Ep. 34: U.S. Constitution - Article I, Section 8 - Limited Powers of Congress, Part 6
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Show Notes

In this episode, Jason continues the discussion about the Enumerated Powers of Congress in Article I, Section 8. Specifically, this episode covers clauses 15 – 17: two of which deal with Congress’ power to call forth and govern the state Militias while in service to the U.S. and the other deals with their authority to legislate in Washington D.C. and federal installations.

[15]“[The Congress shall have Power]… To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;”

[16] “[The Congress shall have Power] … To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;”

[17] “[The Congress shall have Power] … To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;”

  • Jason’s article “On General Welfare”
  • Records of the Federal Convention (see vol 1, vol 2, vol 3).
  • Evidence of Militias going back to 1631 in Massachusetts.
  • Gouveneur Morris, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, on the intent of Article I, Section 8, Clause 15:
    • “With respect to a standing army, I believe there was not a member in the federal convention who did not feel indignation at such an institution. What remedy then could be provided ? — Leave the country defenceless? In order to provide for our defence, and exclude the dangers of a standing army, the general defence is left to those who are the objects of defence. It is left to the militia who will suffer if they become the instruments of tyranny. The general government must have power to call them forth when the general defence requires it. In order to produce greater security, the state governments are to appoint the officers. The president, who commands them when in the actual service of the union, is appointed secondarily by the people. — This is a further security. It is not incredible that men who are interested in the happiness of their country, whose friends, relations, and connections, must be involved in the fate of their country, should turn against their country? I appeal to every man, whether, if any of our own officers were called upon to destroy the liberty of their country, he believes they would assent to such an act of suicide? The state governments having the power of appointing them, may elect men who are the most remarkable for their virtue & attachment to their country”
  • Militia Act of 1792
  • Dick Act of 1903
  • Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definition of “Insurrection
    • “the open and active opposition of a number of persons to the execution of a law in a city or state.”
  • Rufus King, delegate to the Constitutional Convention and member of the Committee to draft clause 16, on the meaning of the words “organize”, “arm”, and “discipline”
    • “by organizing[,] the Committee meant, proportioning the officers & men- by arming, specifying the kind size and caliber of arms- & by disciplining prescribing the manual exercise evolutions &c.”
    • “arming meant not only to provide for uniformity of arms, but included authority to regulate the modes of furnishing, either by the militia themselves, the State Governments, or the National Treasury: that laws for disciplining, must involve penalties and every thing necessary for enforcing penalties”
  • A contemporaneous explanation of “manual exercise

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