Constitution Day

Today, September 17, marks the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States.

One of the key provisions of our Constitution is the separation of powers among the three branches of government, legislative, executive and judicial. The idea, extracted from long British experience, is that the elected legislature enacts policy, levies taxes, and authorizes spending; the executive branch sees that the laws be faithfully observed; and the independent judiciary impartially settles disputes that arise under the Constitution.

That same separation of powers is a key feature of the Vermont Constitution, adopted a decade before the U.S. Constitution. It says “the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary departments shall be separate and distinct, so that neither exercise the powers belonging to the others.”

It’s too bad that a majority of our legislators are unaware of this. They just passed a Global Warming Solutions bill to set up a Climate Council with a two to one majority of climate warrior activists, to bypass the governor and direct executive branch agencies to enact regulations to somehow cut back 80% of our carbon dioxide emissions from gasoline, diesel, heating oil, natural gas and propane.

Gov. Scott, who takes our Constitution seriously, told the Democrats that this is “an unconstitutional usurpation of executive authority by the legislature.” They laughed at that, and now they’re facing his veto. Let’s hope there’s enough legislators who will vote to sustain it – and the Constitution.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.


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Enter Comment Here:

  • Gordon & Jan Payne
    commented 2020-09-19 08:44:01 -0400
    Another key doctrine of the Federal Constitution is limited enumeration – only powers authorized are those expressed. Silence is not assent to either exercise or delegation. Another is limited delegation, which begins with the Constitution itself. There is a reason for State Constitutions, the central and primary body of law for policing the nation. Vermont’s is among the best for both separation and enumeration, their limitations. And one must not forget the reason for it all, the rights of the citizenry, their protection and exercise. The doctrine of Delegatus non potest delegare remains despite abuse. This has occurred most frequently in Congressional/State measures lacking definition and scope, leaving the vacuum to be filled by administrative regulation, a hot area of current litigation begging for redress. Our great Federal Constitution, with its definite ‘commercial’ tilt, has provided us a framework for our unique practice of free enterprise in the recurring cycle of idea (invention/innovation), investment, product development, manufacture, transaction and exchange, and profit, which, properly exercised, lays waste to the mercantile and Marxist/Socialist alternatives, both undermining individual culture and prosperity in the pursuit of power and/or ideal.