What surprises me is that no one has mentioned energy independence in the whole discussion. Constitutional and liberty concerns aside, these light bulbs do increase energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is part of the path to national energy independence from foreign sources; something we can all get behind.
"Madison labored both in the Federalist and in the Virginia convention to assure everyone that the Necessary and Proper Clause was not a "sweeping clause" but one conferring merely incidental powers." - Negotiating the Constitution, The Earliest Debates Over Original Intent, by Joseph M. Lynch, p. 5
On behalf of the proponents of ratification, Wilson, without referring to the Mason-Gerry thesis, in effect dismissed it. The Necessary and Proper Clause, he said, meant "no more than that the powers…already particularly given [in Article I, Section 8] shall be effectually carried into execution." Later in the convention he maintained "that the powers [of the United States] are as minutely enumerated and defined as was possible, and...the general clause, against which so much exception is taken, is nothing more than what was necessary to render effectual the particular powers that are granted." - Negotiating the Constitution, The Earliest Debates Over Original Intent, by Joseph M. Lynch, p. 33
When their proposal was rejected, they took their case to the public, incorporating their amendments in a formal Dissent to ratification, which they published on December 18, 1788. It was in response to their "virulent invective and petulant declamation" against the Necessary and Proper Clause that Hamilton, writing as Publius in the Federalist, restated the construction Wilson had given it in the Pennsylvania convention" Congress thereby had only the power to pass laws to carry into effect the specifically enumerated powers given earlier in the section in which it appeared. The clause, Hamilton wrote, was "only declaratory of a truth, which would have resulted by the necessary and unavoidable implication from the very actt of constituting a Federal Government, and vesting it with certain specified powers." - Negotiating the Constitution, The Earliest Debates Over Original Intent, by Joseph M. Lynch, p. 33
Randolph's belated attack drew forth a second defense of the Necessary and Proper Clause from Publius, this time Madison, in the Federalist. He reaffirmed what Hamilton had written. By adding the clause, the framers had merely expressed that which in its absence would have been implied: Congress would have the power to adopt measures in execution of the enumerated powers. - Negotiating the Constitution, The Earliest Debates Over Original Intent, by Joseph M. Lynch, p. 34
In these four excerpts from one book, we learn that four (Madison, Hamilton, Wilson, & Randolph) of the more influential Founding Fathers disagree with your analysis. It was the anti-Federalists (those opposing ratification of the Constitution) who made the argument that the Necessary and Proper clause was all-encompassing. The people who wrote the Constitution refuted such a notion and stated that the only reason for the clause was that each of the powers enumerated previously in Article I, section 8 had to have the ability to be enacted and that was the reason for the clause. For example, they set up the three branches. The Necessary and Proper Clause allowed the Congress to have a building, chairs to sit in, paper to write on, and the other items needed to run the Congress. Same was true for the other branches. If the government was to have a currency, they had to have the ability to print the money. Etc., Etc., Etc.
The Necessary and Proper Clause was not there to take care of contingencies that had yet to be planned. Don't take my word for it. Read the source above. If you would like, I can offer much more on this.
To properly refute or agree i would have to read that book, which I haven't had the pleasure. I would be interested in seeing Lynch's sources but great research on your part. I would still argue that the constitution is a living document and that despite Hamiltons, Wilson, Randoplh, and Madison's views, the the document was drafted as such. Great point though, and I will have to keep an eye our for that book!
Pending a grant of power to congress over matters of commerce, the states acted individually. Any state which enjoyed superior conditions to a neighboring state was only too apt to take advantage of that fact. Some of the states, as James Madison described it, "having no convenient ports for foreign commerce, were subject to be taxed by their neighbors, through whose ports their commerce was carried on. New Jersey, placed between Philadelphia and New York, was likened to a cask tapped at both ends; and North Carolina, between Virginia and South Carolina, to a patient bleeding at both arms" The Americans were an agricultural and a trading people. Interference with the arteries of commerce was cutting off the very life-blood of the nation, and something had to be done. The articles of confederation provided no remedy, and it was evident that amendments to that document, if presented in the ordinary way, were not likely to succeed. - The Framing of the Constitution of the United States, by Max Farrand, p. 7
This was the true defect of the Articles of Confederation that the Founders corrected at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. They had tried to correct these problems a year prior at the Annapolis Convention, but not enough attended to make a difference there. They wanted to correct the misuse of commerce by the States.
Next, the term commerce did not mean regulating the performance of anything for the public. Here is the definition of commerce that existed at that time:
Samuel Johnson's famous 1755 Dictionary defines it as "Intercourse, exchange of one thing for another, interchange of anything; trade; traf-fick." - Federalism, The Founder's Design, by Raoul Berger, p. 123
This is hardly the meaning that would lead to an intent of regulating the performance of anything for the public. As with the statement I made in the earlier posting about the Necessary and Proper Clause, we would not have had a Constitution if people would have thought the power to be virtually unlimited. That is not what the people wanted.
The Notes on the Constitutional Convention - they are online & the Avalon Project is a good source.
The Federalist Papers - These too are online
The Notes from the Ratification Debates - I own two volumes and the rest I found online.
Correspondence of the people who attended the Conventions - Many of these are online
Here is another & this entire work can be found online for your reading enjoyment:
Mr. GEORGE NICHOLAS: The gentleman has adverted to what he calls the sweeping clause, &c., and represents it as replete with great dangers. This dreaded clause runs in the following words: "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers Vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof." The committee will perceive that the Constitution had enumerated all the powers which the general government should have, but did not say how they were to be exercised. it therefore, in this clause, tells how they shall be exercised. Does this give any new power? I say not. Suppose it had been inserted, at the end of every power, that they should have power to make laws to carry that power into execution; would this have increased their powers? If, therefore, it could not have increased their powers, if placed at the end of each power, it cannot increase them at the end of all. This clause only enables them to carry into execution the powers given to them, but gives them no additional power. - The Debates in the Several State Conventions of the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, by James Madison, Jonathan Elliot, Elliot's Debates: Virginia Ratifying Convention: June 2, 1788 - Virginia Ratifying Debates of June 10, 1788.
Whenever anybody starts spamming founder quotes I just kind of tune out. You can find founder quotes that say pretty much anything. They were just as divided as politicians are today. There were some that wanted a very constrained government sort of like we had previously under the articles of confederation and there were some that wanted a much more powerful government than we have today. What matters isn't what the individual founders wanted the constitution to say, what matters is what it does say. That's what the states ratified- the constitution itself, not whatever random cherry picked set of founder statements you dig up.
Not that the founder's papers aren't interesting. They certainly are. Both sides of lot of the big debates we still have today were laid out and argued very intelligently by some of them. But they were most definitely not of a single mind about what the government should be like. Quite the opposite. That's what makes them so interesting to read.
Last edited by teamosil; 12-22-11 at 01:38 AM.