Could the Founding Fathers have predicted the complexities of today's federal deficits and commerce regulations? We wrap up our riveting Constitution Alive series with a deep dive into the powers bestowed upon Congress, dissecting the contentious issue of government spending and the near-miss of instituting a balanced budget amendment. The Commerce Clause, often a point of debate, was originally meant to facilitate trade, not to micromanage it. Through our discourse, we uncover the founders' intent and discuss the implications of federal regulations that reach into the minutiae of our personal lives, from home improvements to hiring professionals.
Join us for a potent conversation on the original meaning and contemporary interpretation of the Constitution's provisions. We examine historical court cases that have expanded federal authority, such as Wickard v. Filburn, and consider recent challenges to this trend. The episode also pays tribute to the Constitution’s design, reflecting the founders' skepticism of power concentration and inspired by biblical principles to create a well-oiled republic. We underscore the crucial role of the 9th and 10th Amendments in preserving the delicate equilibrium of state and federal jurisdictions, invoking the importance of principled leadership in maintaining the vision of the founders for a government of checks and balances.
Welcome to the intersection of faith and politics. This is Wall Builders. Today we're going to get the conclusion of a three-part series out of our Constitution Alive series. In that Constitution Alive series we cover every amendment, every article. We walk you through the Constitution and give you the original intent. And this week we've been sharing with you section four out of Constitution Alive, which is about the Congress and this three-part series, if you happen to miss yesterday or the day before, you can go to our website right now at Wall Builders Live and grab it. But we're going to pick up right where we left off yesterday with Constitution Alive. This next clause there. If you're on page 12 where we're going through the enumerated powers, I know we don't like it. I don't like these trillion-dollar deficits, friends. I think they're immoral, I think they're wrong. Unfortunately they are Constitutional. That phrase says to borrow money on the credit of the United States they have. It's one of the powers we put in the bucket and of course we want them to be able to fight wars at some time you might have. You know how close we were to amending that part of the Constitution. We almost had a balanced budget, amendment 1999. Anybody know how close were we? "One You got it right there, ma'am. One vote, One vote. We could have had it with one more vote. Don't tell me your vote doesn't count. Every vote counts, every single time. I think we've got a good lot of momentum in the country right now. That's probably an amendment we can get done if we put enough support behind it. But anyway, it is obviously Constitutional for them to borrow money right now. Let's rein that one in. But here's the Commerce Clause. Okay, here's this next big loophole that they run through. I see three areas right here that the federal government has the power. We gave them, or loaned them, the power to regulate three areas of commerce. Now, regulate does not mean micromanage. Back then it meant to make regular. So it doesn't mean they get to micromanage it, it means they actually get to make it regular, which is back to this idea of general welfare. It's back to the idea of protecting the system itself. And in commerce, what's the system? You want to protect? The free flow of free enterprise, right? So in order to do that, we gave them the power to be the negotiators, if you will, in these three areas of commerce. Three areas only. Number one we said they can regulate commerce with foreign nations we already mentioned. We don't want 50 states negotiating with these countries and having 50 different treaties, so we let the federal government do that, fair enough. Second category, and among the several states, as Thomas said, that's Interstate Commerce. So that interstate commerce that crosses the state line, you could say that the federal camel knows is under the tent. We gave them, loaned them I'm sorry, loaned them the power to in some way make regular commerce across state lines. That doesn't mean micromanage. What it means is we're not going to let one state abuse another state in terms of free enterprise. For instance, in Texas we've really, over the last few decades, increased our agriculture in the area of vineyards and having wineries all around Texas and it's actually become a big part of our agriculture. Well, California obviously huge in that right. Well, Texas legislature cannot pass a law that says well, you really want to help these guys with these vineyards in Texas be able to do better in their sales so Texans can't buy California wine anymore. We're going to impose a blockade. That's why we want a commerce clause in the Constitution so that the federal government can say to Texas no, you can't do that. We want the free flow of commerce because we believe in the free market and we believe that if you allow that free market to flow, everybody's going to be better off. So that's a legitimate function of the federal government. And then the last category, with the Indian tribes. So you've got sovereign Indian tribes. You ought to have the nation of the United States negotiating with them, and not all these individual states in terms of commerce. So there's your three categories Foreign nations, interstate commerce and your Indian tribes. So I'm just curious, why is it, if I'm going to put a new bathroom in my house let's say I'm going to do a little remodeling, I'm going to add a new, I'm a remodel bathroom If I call up Joe, the plumber up there in Ohio and I say, hey, Joe, would you come in and do my bathroom for me? And he says yes, he's going to come, so he's going to bring in tools. He's going to bring in some guys. I got some interstate commerce going on now, right, so the feds actually have an opportunity to make regular this transaction. What if my wife says you know, honey, I was looking online and they've got this beautiful fancy you know Fufu toilet in France that I want to order. It's only $1,200, baby I, you know I'm and she's going to order this thing from now. Now the federal government's got an international right. We got a foreign nation involved, so now they can make regular the transaction of my remodel in my house. Have you noticed the vacuum of leadership in America? We're looking around for leaders of principle to step up, and too often no one is there. God is raising up a generation of young leaders with a passion for impacting the world around them. They're crying out for the mentorship and leadership training they need. Patriot Academy was created to meet that need. Patriot Academy graduates now serve in state capitals around America, in the halls of Congress, in business, in the film industry, in the pulpit, in every area of the culture. They're leading effectively and impacting the world around them. Patriot Academy is now expanding across the nation, and now is your chance to experience this life-changing week that trains champions to change the world. Visit www. patriotacademy. com for dates and locations. Our core program is still for young leaders 16 to 25 years old, but we also now have a citizen track for adults. So visit the website today to learn more. Help us fill the void of leadership in America.David Barton:
This is David Barton with another moment from America's history. What is the purpose of government? Founding Father Oliver Ellsworth believed he knew. Oliver Ellsworth was a delegate at the Convention which formed the Constitution and later he became the Chief Justice in the US Supreme Court. Concerning the purpose of government, Oliver Ellsworth declared, "the primary objects of government are the peace, order and prosperity of society. Yet how are these goals to be achieved? Ellsworth explained, to the promotion of these objects, good morals are essential. Institutions for the promotion of good morals are therefore objects of legislative provision and support and among these, religious institutions are immanently useful and important. Founding father Oliver Ellsworth believed government could never reach it's g oals apart from the help of religious institutions.Rick Green:
What happens if Joe the Plumber calls me and said sorry, I've got 15 tea parties I'm speaking at this month, ain't no way I can get down there to do your bathroom, you're going to have to find somebody local, so I can't get Joe the Plumber from Ohio so I hire Joe Smith from down the road in Dripping Springs, Texas. He's going to come do it, no tools come from out of state, no labor coming from out of state, we don't have Interstate Commerce going on anymore. My, gorgeous, brilliant , amazing wife as always happens makes a brilliant decision and says, you know, honey that would be really foolish of us to by that 1200 dollar toilet from France when Lowes has one for 79 dollars and it's going to work just fine. So being as brilliant as she is, we decide we are going to do that, we don't have France involved anymore. No more international commerce, no more foreign nations. So we don't have foreign nations, we don't have interstate commerce, Why is it that the federal government gets to tell me how much water has got to go through my toilet, what kind of light bulbs I got to have in my bathroom, how wide my door has got to be? I mean, it's ridiculous. It must be because Joe Smith, there next door is Choctaw, or because, thank you, somebody got that one, or because I'm part Comanche. I'm assuming, because of me having some Comanche blood, that the federal government has decided that my any transaction is with an Indian trust, surely that I can't figure it out, because there is no reason for the federal government to have anything to do with the commerce that is not fitting into any of those three categories. And you know what's really sad? The courts got this right for a long time. They slapped Congress down, slapped their hand for years when they would try to expand, open up the lid, get a new power, expand and do commerce that was not in those three categories. And then all of a sudden they started kind of rubber stamping what would come out of Congress. You remember why? It was FDR. He had the switching time saved nine. He was going to pack the court and all this stuff. And all of a sudden they decided well, you know, we said a little while ago, minimum wage, you couldn't do that because that doesn't fit into the commerce clause. But now we're going to let you do that. And then they started letting them regulate this and regulate that. And now you know how bad it's gotten. It's gotten so bad that the Wickard V Filburn case this is where a guy is farming, he is raising his own crops, he is not selling them to anybody, he's consuming them himself. He's not buying them from anybody. So there's no commerce here, right? I mean, this would be like you having a garden in your backyard. He's not buying, no commerce. Our court said the federal government could come in with all the way to the Department of Agriculture on this guy and say you have to obey all of our, we can regulate everything you're doing because it's commerce. And you say, well, how is it commerce that's not crossing state lines? How is it commerce if he's not even selling anything? And he's not buying anything. They say, well, you know, had he bought those crops down at the farmer's market, it might have affected the price of commerce, I mean the price of those crops. Had he sold his crops down at the farmer's market, it might have affected the price. And therefore this is somehow going to have some you know some related. If you could connect enough dots, it will impact interstate commerce. Friends, that's where we are. That's how far we've gone from the plain language. I mean, is anybody confused by those three categories, anybody confused by the plain language of the Constitution? And yet, because we've gone away from what these guys told us to do, we no longer interpret that language by what they said. We let some judge somewhere else, twist it a little bit, then twist it a little more, then twist a little more. You know how bad it is now? The whole idea of taking healthcare through the commerce clause? The federal judge that initially said it was unconstitutional, he said the reason is because not only did Wickard V Filburn allow us to regulate commerce or regulate activity that was not commerce, not only did it go so far as to allow us to regulate activity that was not commerce, what this law does is it allows us to regulate inactivity that is not commerce. And do you get how bad that is? That means we can regulate anything you do or don't do, and that's what the court said was such a bad idea. And, by the way, one good thing that came out of the Supreme Court decision on healthcare is that Justice Roberts actually said no to using the commerce clause for healthcare. So he put the brakes on this slippery slope. We've gone with the commerce clause. That was one of the good things that came out of it. In fact, he said, "the path of our commerce clause decisions has not always run smooth, but it is now well established that Congress has brought authority under the clause. Wait a second well established by whom? So a retired English teacher in the room? Is it whom? Or who? Well established by whom? Let's just go with whom, because it makes it sound smart, I don't know. Well established by whom? I mean just because the courts have said that the commerce clause gives broad discretion to Congress, that doesn't mean it's so. That doesn't mean that's what these guys wanted and when you go back to what they said, they did not want it to give them broad discretion. So I completely disagree with the Chief Justice on this. It is not well established. It may be thought in their minds or well established in their circles, but not these guys who sat in this room. They'd be standing up and saying, oh no, you got that one entirely wrong. In fact, the other four, the four justices that dissented in the healthcare decision, said this about how far this was going to go if we allowed this kind of expansion of the government. This is Scalia, Alito, thomas and Kennedy. "To go beyond that meaning going beyond what happened in Wicked v Filburn, to go beyond regulating commerce activity that is not commerce under the Constitution, but to even go even further than that they said, "and to say that the failure to grow wheat. So remember what was happening in the case. This guy was growing wheat and consuming it, so there was an activity happening and the feds decided that that was an activity they could regulate. What they're saying is now we're going to go beyond even that and say that the failure that the failure to grow wheat so now we're not growing wheat ".. and the failure to grow wheat, which is not an economic activity or any activity at all, nonetheless affects commerce. So now this guy doesn't even grow his wheat, doesn't sell it down the street, and so now we're going to be able to regulate him. They said "that is to make mere breathing in and out the basis for federal prescription. It extends federal power to virtually all human activity. That's four of our Supreme Court justices saying this is gone way too far. We're using the commerce clause or, frankly, any part of the Constitution to regulate people just for breathing in and out. That's their words. That's how far we've allowed it to go, friends. Now commerce is supposed to be free enterprise. The more we micromanage it, the less freedom we have. The more we force people into the marketplace, the less freedom we have. And Jefferson had a great quote on this. He said "the pillars of our prosperity are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise." When we regulate to the point of micromanaging, when we force people into the marketplace, we're not left free to individual enterprise, are we? That's how far we've gone and the reason we hadn't been reading it. We haven't studied it, we haven't looked at what the real meaning behind those words actually are. That's why what we're doing is so important, because see if you and I can go back to what these guys actually did and said, if we can learn what they really intended, and then we can go back home and we can share it with our friends and family. If we can use this knowledge in the decisions we make about who we elect to go to Congress, if we can begin to get young people to understand this and someday run for Congress, then we can get members of Congress that understand these things and we can rein this thing in. We can turn it back folks. We can get Congress back into its proper bucket, if you will, with the lid on it. We'll just do our duties as citizens.Tim Barton:
Hi, friends, this is Tim Barton of WallBuilders. This is a time when most Americans don't know much about American history or even Heroes of the Faith and I know oftentimes for parents we're trying to find good content for our kids to read and if you remember back to the Bible, the book of Hebrews, it has the Faith Hall of Fame where they outlined the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that, as Americans, we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes, not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity and our faith as well. I want to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called the Courageous Leaders Collection and this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright Brothers, and there's a second collection called Heroes of History. In this collection you'll read about people like Benjamin Franklin or Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, friends the list goes on and on. This is a great collection for your young person to have and read and it's a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at wallbuilders. com that's www. wallbuilders. com.Rick Green:
Constitutional Alive means that this document is still alive. It is still applicable today to our lives. I believe we can get to those big changes and they will restore our Constitutional Republic if we bring them in. But to get to those we have to dive into the details. And it makes me think about why the founders got so detailed, for them to sit in that hot room and sweat it out and actually go through line by line, like you said earlier, post office, post roads and all these specific details. Why did they do that? Why not just have one general statement that said government can do whatever is necessary to protect us.David Barton:
They had a real distrust of power. They had been through it themselves with the king but they've also been through it in the scriptures. John Adams, for example, is one that in multiple letters talks about Jeremiah 17.9 as the basis for why they separated powers. Because the scripture says 'the heart of man is desperately wicked. Who can know it?' In other words, if you leave man to his own devices, it will turn bad. So they distrusted government because they distrusted man. They distrusted man, and so man is not naturally good. You have to corral him and get him to do the right things. It's kind of funny. Who teaches two-year-olds to lie? It just comes naturally, you don't have to. Who teaches? I mean, there's 43 toys in a room and the kid can have anyone, but if the sister picks up that one, that's the one who taught him. Who taught him selfishness? That's just part of human nature, and so they understood the nature of man. That look, there are ways you can learn self-control, but there are other times you have to exert control, because they've seen all the stuff that happened in France. They've seen Robespierre and all the stuff that went with that. They've seen that revolution in Greece. They've seen all these revolutions and they've been under British history themselves, watching what's happened with the different kings, whether it was William and Mary or whether it was Mary, Queen of Scots totally different approaches. So they knew history, they knew the character of man and, as John Adams said, they knew the Bible. Therefore, we separate powers and we're really specific. We're not going to just tell you general categories, we're going to tell you what you can do. And the other reason is you remember when we were talking earlier about battle plans and battle maps? You can get up there. Yeah, looking at the birds, you really get here. So we're up here and we understand that we also are creating a federal republic which shares power with lower-level entities, and that's the state and communities. And so, just as we have to separate power horizontally, we separate between the judiciary and the executive and we separated over here with the legislative. And, by the way, not only do they separate powers, the Federalist Papers said that they gave each branch constitutional arms, a self-defense. In other words, if that branch starts doing something you're supposed to do you can fight back. You've got the tools and your tools. Now I will just about guarantee you you asked the congressman today name me five tools you have to fight back against the judiciary and they can't tell me a thing. But the Constitution gave each branch tools to fight back. Name me five tools you have against an overreaching executive. Name me five whatever it is, the other branches don't know that anymore, and so the founders are very specific about it. What a waste, because it really is a brilliant battle plan that the founders put in place to keep these different and they wrote it all down. And I'm sure if they were here today they'd say are you all illiterate? Why aren't you using what we gave you? Are you lazy? I mean, this room is filled with their writings and their own line, by the way.Rick Green:
I mean these things- Was it a secret meeting that they didn't expose all the secrets? They gave us all the secrets.David Barton:
Here it is, All their discussions and the constitutional Convention. They're right here, and those were private discussions at the time, so they could be very candid, but they made the public but then they came out and said here's what we've got for you in Franklin, and here's a lot the public could be-. So it's real simple stuff. But what happens is we also have a separation of powers, not between three branches, but between the levels of government, and that's federalism. Hey, federal government, there's only certain things you can do. And, by the way, state governments here's what you can do, and local governments, here's what you do. And so that bicameralism of horizontal separation and branches and then the vertical separation powers that Thomas Jefferson talks about, are very significant. So what they did, understanding all of the components that have some jurisdiction of this, they said okay, we're going to tell you specifically what Congress can do, what the president can do and what the judicial branch can do. Now, does that mean that there's not other stuff to be done? No, there definitely is. But that's why we give you the 9th and 10th Amendment. And the 10th Amendment says anything we didn't specifically give to Congress belongs to the states. We gave 18 areas to Congress. That means 4,ooo,432 areas belonging to the states. That's part of the verbal separation power. People in the Bay look at that and say, well, they didn't say we couldn't do it. Yeah, they did. The 10th Amendment set up. We didn't tell the governments if they'd do it and they can't.Tim Barton:
Hey, this is Tim Barton, with WallBuilders, and, as you've had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you've probably heard the wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, about all the things that makes America exceptional. And you might be thinking as incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school or public school or some political event or activity. If you're interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www. wallbuilders. com and there's a tab for scheduling and if you'll click on that tab, you'll notice there's a list of information from speakers' bios to events that are already going on, and there's a section where you can request an event to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders' website and bring a speaker to your area.David Barton:
This is David Barton, with another moment from America's history, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently overturned the jury sentence of a man convicted of the brutal murder of a 71-year-old woman because the prosecuting attorney had mentioned a Bible verse in the courtroom. Yet consider what happened in the 1778 case Respublica v John Roberts. Thomas McKean, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the chief justice of that court and, addressing John Roberts after the jury had sentenced him to death for treason, McKean told him "You will probably have but a short time to live Before you launch into eternity. It behooves you to repent of your evil deeds, to be in cessant in prayers to the great and merciful God, to forgive your manifold transgressions and sins, to teach you to rely upon the merit and passion of a dear redeemer. This prominent founding father actually delivered a salvation message to the defendant in the courtroom.Speaker 3:
For more information on God's hand in American history, contact Wall Builders at 1-800-8-REBUILD.David Barton:
The 9th and the 10th amendments, same with the people. You know, we told the government what they could do, but people, you got everything else that you could do. So that's why they were very specific in what they did. That's why they gave us constitutional tools of self-defense. And the problem we have is, if you were looking for a loophole and you talked about the loophole, so the General Welfare Clause and the Commerce, you will find a way to bust the intent of what it is. I don't care what the intent is, I want a loophole so that I can get around it. Yeah, you'll change the meaning of words, do whatever it takes to get around it. And John Dickinson, who was not only a guy who put the Declaration together, but he's a guy who also signed the Constitution, one of the founding fathers. He talked about how dangerous that is when you start looking for loopholes and how it changes everything. And I'll just read here from his work. He says, "nothing is more certain than that the forms of liberty may be retained when the substance is gone. In other words, you still got a Constitution, but it doesn't work anymore because you've had a heart transplant. You took the heart out of it and placed it with something else. He said nothing is more certain than that the forms of liberty may be retained when the substance is gone. He said in government as well as in religion. And then he makes a direct quote, "the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. Now that's a direct quote out of 2 Corinthians 3-6, and he notes it's right out of the Bible. He says that works in government just like it is in religion. If you forget, for example, that in religion, Jesus, in dealing with the Sabbath law, said hey guys, don't forget, the Sabbath was made to serve you. You weren't made to serve the Sabbath. Well, you can get so into Sabbath laws that it becomes a bondage on your back. Instead of you getting the rest you need to become something that's your slave driver. He said in government it's the same way. Because you've gotten caught up in the legalistic letter of the law instead of the spirit of the. What do you do? And so, same thing. If you get caught up in the actual wording of the general welfare clause and if I tweak my nose just the right direction, if I tilt my shoulder a little, I can find an interpretation. No, remember the spirit of the general welfare clause, which you get by studying all this, which you get by studying all that and which you laid out very clearly. I mean you add all the founders quotes on it. Don't try to squeeze a new meaning out of this, but go to the, because when you do, he says, "in government as well as in religion, the letter kills but the spirit gives life. And if you go to that literal, word by word interpretation instead of what they were trying to give, you will kill the Constitution, you'll kill the country, you'll kill freedom, you'll kill prosperity, you'll kill all those things we enjoy. And that's why the founders are so good about being so specific in so many areas, so that we get the principles, apply the principles and have the same result that we've had for 200 years.Rick Green:
Alright, we're going to keep walking through those specifics. The great thing here is we're getting some tangibles. I mean these are real areas where you can restore that liberty. If you go back to that original meaning, it's kind of neat. It's not just this oh, study the Constitution, we're finding specific areas. We go, oh, we can fix that area right there now that we know what the intent was, we go to our Congressman and say, hey, let's get this thing right. So we're going to get into more of those specifics. Our hope is that you are getting excited and realizing that we can restore this Constitutional Republic. In the next chapter we'll finish out Article 1, section 8 and those enumerated powers and we're going to take some questions from our audience in Philadelphia when we come back on Constitutional Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. Well, that's it, folks. Thanks for joining us today. This three-part series has ended. Today it's Constitutional Alive. That was Section 4, covering the Congress. Actually, section 5 also covers the Congress. It took two full sections to do that and talk about those enumerated powers. Sorry, we couldn't share more with you today, we're out of time, but if you go to our website at WallbuildersLive. com, you can get the entire three-part series we have shared with you this week right there online and share it with your friends and family. Get them educated about the true intent of the Constitution and what the Founders intended for the proper role of our Congress to be, what the federal government's actual jurisdiction should be under the Constitution. You can find out more at our website at Wallbuilderslive. com.