Here is a good response to Pelosi’s press release mentioned in a previous post.
The Speaker is certainly correct that federal Congress has certainly legislated on “many aspects of American life.” In fact, there is a lot more at stake with the Commerce Clause than “just” our health care — the entire authority for economic central planning rests on this single clause. I strongly disagree with Pelosi that the Constitution allows Congress broad power in this respect. First, the exact language from my job description in Powers of Congress, Article I, Section 8, Clause 3:
Regulation, in today’s dictionaries, means “a governmental order having the force of law.” However, this is not the historical definition. The founders believed “regulate” to literally mean ‘to make more regular’ or, per Black’s Law Dictionary at the time, “a rule or order prescribed for management or government; a regulating principle; a precept.” In other words, regulate meant that Congress should in principle assist with Commerce disputes between the States, but did not grant Congress the power of law to inflict criminal penalties.
“The Congress shall have Power… to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”
Pelosi believes that she has the power to “regulate Commerce… among the several States” and I suggest that in blunt language she instead literally means to “control the economy… of the States.” Pelosi and her ilk accomplish this by confusing the modern meanings with the legal meaning and contemporary context of the founders.