Federal Centralization: A Study and Criticism of the Expanding Scope of Congressional Legislation

By Walter Thompson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
PROMOTION OF EDUCATION

IF the government created by the Constitution is to be considered as possessing only delegated powers, then it must be admitted that the control of public instruction, except in territory exclusively under the jurisdiction of the United States, belongs solely to the states. Constitutional provisions, such as the commerce clause, the postal clause, and the taxing clause, have been invoked to legalize centralization in the regulation of matters pertaining to police. No provisions of the Constitution can be called forth to legalize federal control of education. The Constitution is silent on the subject. Those who seek a constitutional justification for federal control are forced to base their contentions on such vague generalities as the power of Congress to promote the general welfare1 or to dispose of property belonging to the United States.2 To construe these general provisions as clothing the federal government with additional powers, not otherwise conferred, is to endanger the doctrines of limited powers as well as that of the division of powers between the central government and the states -- both of which are cardinal principles in our constitutional system.

____________________
1
Promotion of the general welfare is mentioned in the Preamble, and in Art. I, sec. 8: 1. Congress is given power to tax in order to provide for the general welfare.
2
Art. IV, sec. 3: 2.

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