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General Welfare

Brutus’s Anti-Federalist Paper No. 33 sheds some light on modern debates over the original intent of the Constitution’s “general welfare” clause:

… It will … be a matter of opinion, what tends to the general welfare; … the Congress will be the only judges in the matter. …

It is as absurd to say, that the power of Congress is limited by these general expressions, “to provide for the common safety, and general welfare,” as it would be to say, that it would be limited, had the constitution said they should have power to lay taxes, &c. at will and pleasure. … [T]he government would always say, their measures were designed and calculated to promote the public good; … there being no judge between them and the people, the rulers themselves must, and would always, judge for themselves.

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