John Conyers and a Constitutional Mandate

Representative John Conyers, head of the House Judiciary Committee, when asked by CNS News where the Constitution authorized the massive power grab exhibited by Obamacare (specifically the individual mandate), had the following to say:

Conyers said: “Under several clauses, the good and welfare clause and a couple others. All the scholars, the constitutional scholars that I know — I’m chairman of the Judiciary committee, as you know — they all say that there’s nothing unconstitutional in this bill and if there were, I would have tried to correct it if I thought there were.”

Ilya Shapiro at the Cato Institute points out a little problem with Conyers’ statement: no such clause exists.

As it happens, there is no “good and welfare clause” — which Conyers should know, as both judiciary chairman and a lawyer.  But even if you excuse his casual use of constitutional language, what he probably means — the General Welfare Clause of Article I, Section 8 — is not a better answer.  What that clause does is limit Congress’s use of the powers enumerated elsewhere in that section to legislation that promotes ”the general welfare.”  (So earmarks are arguably unconstitutional, though you can make a colorable argument that, when considering a pork bill as a whole, with all parts of the country getting something, that monstrosity is collectively in “the general welfare” — maybe.)  In any event, the General Welfare Clause doesn’t give Congress any additional powers — and I’d be curious to know what the other “several clauses” are.

Conyers  also noted that, “All the scholars, the constitutional scholars that I know . . . they all say that there’s nothing unconstitutional in this bill and if there were, I would have tried to correct it if I thought there were.”  Well, Mr. Conyers, to start let me introduce you to three constitutional scholars — not fringe right-wing kooks or anything like that, but respected people who publish widely — who think Obamacare is unconstitutional.  Now will you try to “correct” the bill?

Duane Lester at Right Wing News also jumps on Conyers’ apparent ignorance of the Constitution:

There is no such clause, as CNS points out. Good only appears in the Constitution once, and not anywhere near the “general welfare” clause I’m certain Conyers is trying to say.

But even then, the general welfare clause does not give the government the authority to compel me, at the point of a gun, to buy gumballs, let alone health insurance.

This is not a topic readers of All American Blogger are unfamiliar with. At least three different authors there have written on this.

Travis Farral wrote “Uncommon Sense.” Andrew Min wrote “Spending and the general welfare.” And I wrote, “General Welfare Insanity or How We Are Spending Ourselves into Oblivion.”

They all come to the same conclusion. The Framers were right.


The “General Welfare Clause” is the refuge of an unConstitutional act and an unConstitutional thinker. Or, in Conyers case, a Constitutional illiterate.

The “General Welfare Clause” does not do what the leftists in Congress want it to do. The Framers made that very clear. Yet today we find Democrats using it to justify sending IRS agents to your house to collect money for a fine imposed on you because you didn’t buy what the government told you to buy.

Is that freedom, or is it tyranny?

The Constitution is an impediment to progressive Democratic aims, because its purpose is to limit the scope and power of government. So Progressives with either ignore the Constitution or “interpret” it to mean what they want it to mean.

And old quote I once heard went something like this: Liberals will interpret the Constitution; Conservatives will quote it.

Hopefully SCOTUS will quote it when Obamacare gets challenged in the courts.

Hat Tip Philip Klein at America Spectator.

Van Helsing at Moonbattery and the BlogProf also mention.

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