Saturday, June 18, 2011

Federal Highway Funding Unconstitutional

By Douglas V. Gibbs

Earlier today in J.J. Jackson's submission to Political Pistachio, "Things Gleaned From The CNN Republican Debate," he references the authority of the federal government to make roadways being limited to post roads.

Jackson was specifically referring to Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 where the Congress is granted the authority to establish post offices and post roads.

As with the other clauses in Article I, Section 8, this clause is an express power granted to the federal government and was designed to promote the Union. In this case, it ensures that communication throughout the union remained intact. The clause gives the federal government the authority to establish post offices, and post roads. Note the word "establish." Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 gives the federal government the authority to “establish” post roads, but not to create or maintain them. The Constitution does not give the federal government any other authority over roadways. In fact, this is the only reference to roadways in the entire Constitution. This clause makes the federal highway and Interstate highway system, as well as the other workings of the federal transportation department, unconstitutional. It was up to the States to create and maintain their roadways. If the States desired to remained connected, and receive their mail, they would keep up their roads.

In 1817, Congress proposed a bill that would provide federal funding for boatways and roadways, claiming it was for the “general welfare” of the nation, as well as being something needed for national security (common defense). President James Madison vetoed the bill, claiming it to be unconstitutional, because the federal government was not given the authority to fund transportation routes. Great idea, he indicated, but not authorized by the Constitution.

The same arguments in support of federal funding for roadways was used in the 1950s under President Eisenhower, but this time the Constitution was disregarded and the bill was passed, and signed.

Liberals will argue that without federal funding the intricate highway system this nation enjoys would never have been constructed.

It amazes me that the liberals don't trust the States to act upon their own authorities as individual States, yet put all kinds of trust into a potentially tyrannical centralized federal government.

I agree that our highway system is a good thing, but the web of federal roadways was not constructed legally, within the authorities granted by the Constitution.

Either, the States should have built and maintained the massive highway system without federal influence, or funding; or an amendment should have been proposed and ratified giving the authority to build the highway system to the federal government.

The federal government, like with most of its unconstitutional endeavors, took it upon itself to take action, regardless of the law, regardless of the Constitution, under the guise of the public good. Since then, federal highway funding has been used to extort the States. In both the cases of a uniform 55 mph speed limit in the 1970s, and the drive to make uniform the drinking age at 21, failure to comply by the States was coupled with the threat of the federal government withholding federal funding for their highways.


In the private sector, such actions would be illegal, and punishable by a prison sentence.

In short, the federal government seizes power to accomplish what they deem fit, regardless of the law, because the political elites of the federal government believe it is their right to do so.

Such are the markings of the rise of tyranny.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

James Madison: Veto of federal public works bill, March 3, 1817

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