Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Founding

Your Constitutional Authority

The Heritage Foundation has put on-line its Guide to the Constitution, co-edited by David Forte and Matthew Spalding. This is a line-by-line commentary with major essays by significant legal scholars. Heritage does terrific work with its instant digests on contemporary policy issues, but this is something different, yet relevant to policy debates.

Take this analysis of the first line of Article II of the Constitution, on the nature and scope of executive power, "the vesting clause." There's even a teacher's companion guide, besides the essay by UVA law professor Sai Prakash and a brief (and diverse) bibliography of legal scholarship.

Or consider co-editor Forte's thoughts on the commerce clause, now at the heart of the Obamacare case, to be decided by the Court this term. Are you clear on the meaning of "to ... regulate commerce ... among the several states"? And so it goes, line by line, through the whole Constitution.

The achievement deserves favorable comparison with the best encyclopaedias of legal thought, such as the grand project of the late Leonard Levy. And besides Heritage's is on-line, will be constantly updated (not a living Constitution, but a lively commentary) and free.

Categories > The Founding

Discussions - 4 Comments

That is a pretty radical (i.e. stretched) reading of the "coinage clause" by Todd Zywicki.

Forte's reading of the "Counterfiting clause" seems better, more applicable and at odds with Zywicki.

Zywicki is clearly wrong.

This is what states are not allowed to do:
According to Article one section 10 clause 1:

"coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; [or] make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts...."

So states can make gold or silver legal tender for payment of debts.

This is what the federal government can do:

“The Congress shall have Power To...coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin....

But Zywicki tries to make the Federal Government into the states: "Nonetheless, certain elements are clear. First, Congress is granted the authority to "coin money," which authorizes Congress to coin money from precious metals such as gold and silver."

False. Even the states could "coin money" from precious metals such as gold and silver. They did this, via state chartered banks, they just could not control the dollar valuation of such coins appart from a weight in gold and silver. The states could do this because the states could make gold or silver legal tender for the payment of debts. (See article 1 section 10 clause 1)

Congress can authorize the U.S. Mint to coin money from anything, in any denomination.

The U.S. Mint could coin 20 1- Trillion dollar coins, deposit them in its account at the federal reserve and we could fully fund all government programs without increasing the debt ceilling.

As a matter of constitutional law at least there is no obstacle to doing this. I also think it might be a better and invisible BATNA underlying the deficit negotiations.

But if folks read the constitution aren't they liable to get all sorts of policy ideas?

I have the book on my desk at work. Excellent resource.

The Heritage Foundation is truly a God send to our country. Of course to some, mainly the left, it is the devil in disguise.

Reading some the essays on the sidelines are well written and well presented.

It would be nice if the Teacher's companion would be a required guide in the failing, crumbling, useless public schools systems.

Of couse that will never happen and it is paramount to liberalism that students are kept stupid and unaware of the principals of this country as well as their God-given rights and liberties. Oops did I say "GOD" .

Thank God for homeschool. My son was never exposed to the in-the-toliet ideaology of the left in the public school systems. Too bad for those who were...

Thanks for the link. I got the book a couple of months ago.

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