When I start talking about the fact that the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to do things like fund public television or monitor a cell phones without a warrant, somebody will inevitably counter with the following statement:
“The founders never anticipated things like television and cell phones, or any of the other technological advances of the last 200-plus years. We have to give the federal government the flexibility to deal with these things.”
But these folks ignore that fact that the framers created a mechanism to allow the Constitution to evolve with the changing times – the amendment process. When lawmakers feel the advancement of technology necessitates additional powers, they should first go to the people, let them decide, and if they deem it necessary, amend the Constitution to delegate the requisite power.
Of course, it’s true that the framers could never have imagined all of the technological and societal advances that would occur in the United States over the course of time. And the amendment process makes it pretty clear that they recognized the Constitution would not, and should not, remain static. But the framers did understand some things do not change – among them, basic human nature. They understood that, as Lord Acton eloquently put it, “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” For that reason, the framers created, and the people of the states approved, a government of limited powers and included numerous checks on the few powers that were delegated.
While technology and society might evolve, it is imperative we keep in place those basic checks on power.Details