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Necessary and Proper?

Defending the Constitution’s much-feared necessary and proper clause in Federalist 33, Alexander Hamilton, a proponent of a strong central government, argued:

What is a power, but the ability or faculty of doing a thing? What is the ability to do a thing but the power of employing the means necessary to its execution? What is a LEGISLATIVE power but a power of making LAWS? What are the means to execute a LEGISLATIVE power but LAWS? What is the power of laying and collecting taxes but a legislative power, or a power of making laws, to lay and collect taxes? What are the proper means of executing such a power but necessary and proper laws?

This simple train of enquiry furnishes us at once with a test by which to judge of the true nature of the clause complained of. It conducts us to this palpable truth, that a power to lay and collect taxes must be a power to pass all laws necessary and proper for the execution of that power …” [emphasis in original]

January 2, 1788

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1 thought on “Necessary and Proper?

  1. I’ve been working my way through the Federalist Papers in the original and modern English. Fed #33 is about the Federal Laws being supreme. The problem is that the Federal Courts have usurped the Legislature in making law. The premise of the current Constitution in this paper, and most others, has been violated.

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