Are all Laws Necessary?

By Matt Shipley (Bio and Archives)  Thursday, May 9, 2013

If anyone were to take the time to read the Federal Register of Laws, in which all laws passed by Congress are recorded since its first session in 1789, and they read an average of 700 pages per week, it would take them over 25,000 years to read them all, a feat impossible in multiple lifetimes.

This number becomes even more daunting every two years, since Congress passes an average of 2,000 bills into law during each session. In light of this impossible task, the old adage “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is completely unreasonable. As a matter of fact, this quantity of laws makes unwitting lawbreakers out of every person living in America. Consequently, to claim all these laws are necessary is either a gross exaggeration or an outright lie, because in many cases Congress has exceeded their constitutional authority in passing them.

Many laws have been passed with the idea Congress has the constitutional authority “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper…”[1] At first glance, this clause seems to give Congress unlimited authority to pass nearly anything they choose, but this is not the case. The remainder of the clause states “…for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” This means Congress only has authority to make laws necessary and proper for executing the powers expressly defined in the Constitution.
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