Free History Of Law Essay Example
The theories articulated by Hamilton and Jefferson on the powers of the federal government as directed by the US constitution form part of history of laws. The theories termed broad and strict construction give an explanation of the powers of the federal and the state government. According to strict constructionists, the Congress should have the opportunity to exercise few powers so that the government remains small while broad constructionists held that the Congress should have many powers so that the government can play an important and greater role in shaping the events of the day in a country. Most of the US citizens have disagreed on this matter since the time of Hamilton, who was a broad constructionist and a Jefferson, who was a strict constructionist. After the creation of the constitution, the founding fathers split it into two sides on how to strictly or loosely interpret some important clauses. Thomas Jefferson, who held a belief that the Congress should exercise few powers, led one of the factions while the other faction led by Hamilton held that the Congress should use many powers and thus make the government participate in greater roles and shaping important activities in the country (Gales 203). According to Jefferson, the government is at its best when it least governs. The strict constructionists wanted a small federal government that would then leave most of the powers to the people and the states. Jefferson and the team wanted the Congress to exercise the powers that were bestowed upon it by the constitution. Jefferson wanted the government to charge few or no taxes thus leaving the citizens to pursue what they wanted without interference from the government. The citizens have the liberty to do what they want provided it does not infringe on the rights of other individuals or is not a threat to national security. Strict constructionists wanted the clauses in the constitution to be observed strictly in order to prevent giving unnecessary powers to the government. The other group led by Hamilton wanted a powerful government that could substantially shape various activities in the country. The broad constructionists also agitated for an extensive reading of the clauses. Unlike Jefferson, Hamilton wanted the federal government to pursue a strategy of economic and industrialization development. Based on the vision of Hamilton, it was the role of the government to organize relevant organizations such as build roads, organize ways, and invest in other important projects with the aim of transforming the US from a place in which farmers worked to an economic powerhouse. The powers that Hamilton wanted the government to have were not stated in the constitution and as such only those who interpreted the law in a liberal manner would term the actions of Hamilton constitutional. According to the strict constructionists, a powerful government that had most of the things in control could serve national interests of the country to the best of its capability. By allowing, the government to exercise a wide variety of the implied powers based on loose reading of the proper and the necessary clause, it would serve the national interests of US better. The argument between Hamilton and Jefferson made Washington’s government split because of the different ideologies that two factions had. The division led to the introduction of the Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans opposing Hamilton's Federalists. The argument between the two factions has continued in one way or the other taking different forms and scenarios. The strict constructionists have won for a long time and in 1800, Jefferson won the elections promising to reduce the size and the scope of the government. The Supreme Court in 1870s enforced a narrow reading of the commerce clause thus blocking the federal government from some of the economic activities. The situation is tricky as during cases of war, crisis, and economic upheavals, most of the powers are granted to the government. Because of such circumstances, there has been broad interpretation of the necessary and proper clauses thus giving the government much power. The federal government today has a large number of implied powers such as the power to regulate educational policies, labor regulations, impose environmental rules, and intervene in many factors that affect the life of many Americans. The broad and the strict construction was at issue in the Gibbons v. Ogden (1824). The Congress was given the powers to regulate commerce in various states, but the clause remained controversial for a long time to many delegates based on the manner in which they interpreted. Hamilton claimed that “among the states” the Congress gave the states the power to control all the commercial activity while Jefferson insisted that they only had control of interstate commerce. The Marshall in the Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) settled the argument and gave the meaning of the commerce clause in a more clear way. The facts revolving about the case involved the steamboats. Robert Fultan and Livingstone in 1808 gave asked the New York law-making body give them a monopoly on steamboat transportation over the New York waters. Livingstone and Fultan later gave Ogden Aaron the exclusive rights to steam navigation on river Hudson specifically between New Jersey and New York. Based on the Federal coasting Act of 1791, Thomas Gibson also placed his steam boat to compete with Ogaden. The acts of Gibson of competing with Ogaden were clearly stated in the Coasting Act of 1791 and therefore he was legally right. The case mainly involved the federal authority and the state battling between who is superior. The federal government in this circumstance was challenging the authority of the state. Based on the decision given by the Marshall, the national government was given the power to control interstate transportation and inland waterways. The court while giving the ruling examined the meaning of the clause "commerce among the several States," and the noun "among" in which it made a conclusion that the noun meant intermingled with. Based on this, the powers of the Congress to control interstate commerce does not stop at the boundary line of each of the states but can be introduced into the interior. The Congress was given the mandate to pass or control matters of commerce so long as the matter is not defined to a single state. Based on this interpretation of the law, the Congress had the legal authority to regulate the route taken by the commercial steamboat between New Jersey and New York. The New York law was termed unconstitutional, and the injunction against Gibbons was not honored and was overturned. The case set a stage in which future expansion of congressional power on commercial activity would occur. After case, the Congress had the power to regulate any matter pertaining to commerce past the state lines. The Congress powers in regulating commerce between states “does not stop at the external boundaries line of every state but may be introduced into the interior”. As explained by the courts, “commerce” included both the article in interstate trade and the "intercourse" among the states, including navigation. For this reason, the Congress are given the go ahead by the courts to regulate commerce but only if the commerce is not entirely restricted within a solitary state (Maurice 120).
The powers of the Congress to regulate such commerce is unlimited. Underneath the clarification of the clause of commerce, clearly, the Congress has the mandate to control the commercial steamboat between New Jersey and New York states. Gibbons v. Ogden opened the stage for the expansion of Congress powers in the future over commercial activity and a wide range of activities that were believed to lie within the authority of the states. The Congress, after Gibbons, got the pro-active power over the state to control any form of commerce crossing state lines. As a result, Congress could overrule any state law regulating interstate commercial activities in any case the actions are connected to commerce of the in-state. Compared to other cases, Ogden set the stage for the federal government's overpowering growth in power into the 20th century.
Baxter, Maurice G. The Steamboat Monopoly: Gibbons V. Ogden, 1824. Knopf, 1972. Print.
Joseph Gales. Bank of the United States. H.ofR. corporations.1834.Print