Hat tip: Mises Daily
by Gary Galles
March 16, 2010
March 16 marks James Madison’s birthday. He was “the father of the Constitution”; no one had a greater hand in constructing and interpreting the highest law of our land. His understanding is especially important today, given how far we have moved away from the very limited government the Constitution authorized and toward one that continually expands its power at the expense of Americans.
We could all profit by remembering Madison’s understanding of the federal government authorized under the Constitution, a sharp contrast to what we see everywhere around us.
Hitherto charters have been written grants of privileges by Governments to the people. Here they are written grants of power by the people to their Governments.
The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate … protection of these faculties is the first object of government.
Government is instituted and ought to be exercised for … the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
Laws are unconstitutional which infringe the rights of the community … government should be disarmed of powers which trench upon those particular rights.
The powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.
There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied … than … that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong … nothing can be more false … it would be the interest of the majority in every community to despoil and enslave the minority of individuals … reestablishing … force as the measure of right.