NPR is unconstitutional

The growing consensus about National Public Radio (NPR) is that it ought to lose its federal funding for precipitously firing Juan Williams for making a controversial statement: a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Others say federal money shouldn’t go to overtly political groups. NPR is a liberal bastion with a clear agenda — not just anyone receives grants from George Soros to the tune of $1.8 million — but is this bias combined with one major First Amendment violation enough to pull the plug?

Hopefully, but the good news is that the Constitution has more to say about this issue, or rather, it has nothing to say on this issue because Congress was never granted the power to fund a radio station.

Much has been said lately about the Commerce Clause in regards to Obamacare. What about the Commerce Clause in relation to NPR?

Undoubtably, if NPR’s funding is constitutionally justified, it’s done using the Commerce Clause with an assist from the “Elastic” Clause. Everything’s done that way.

The founders might as well have taken Article 1, Section 8 and said: “Congress can do whatever.”

But they didn’t.

The Commerce Clause states that Congress has the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States,” not to get involved in private business.

This power had a specific purpose laid out by James Madison in Federalist No.42: “A very material object of this power was the relief of the States which import and export through other States, from the improper contributions levied on them by the latter.”

In layman’s terms, this means the federal government can regulate tariffs and other regulations individual states place on each other.

So, then, radio and communication must be at the end of Section 8 in the “Elastic” Clause. It says Congress can “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.”

If foregoing means previous — and for all you Harvard linguists, it does — then Congress can make the laws it needs to execute the previously stated powers.

A liberal radio station is clearly needed in order to stop states from erecting tariffs.

Only lawyers could follow that logic. The rest of us are stuck here wondering why the federal government has its hand stuck in every pot. Where are the amendments granting these powers?

It’s the lawyers. Well, to be specific it’s the judges and decades of case law granting powers grounded in “emanations” and “penumbras.”

The only way we can get back to following the Constitution is to fight step-by-step to elect leaders who will gradually remove the government’s hand from every facet of our life. A great start would be for the government to stop funding NPR.

Ron Meyer hosts We the People Internet Radio Show and writes a weekly column for Human Events. He is a student at Principia College and a former National Journalism Center intern who has also written political opinion for AOL News and the Santa Barbara News-Press.

  • ursasolus

    Wow, you did a great job of misleading your readership in a completely off path direction from the source and governance of NPR funding. Why don’t we examine the chain of custody of those funds.
    You completely neglected to inform the reader that the 10% of NPR’s annual budget that actually does come from Federal funding, is as a result of grants (that they apply for on a program by program basis) that come from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. And that while the CPB is a private non-profit organization that receives federal funds (much like our beloved US Postal Service), its 9 member chair comittee is appointed directly by the President of the United states. and is overseen by the Department of Education (an Executive Branch cabinet position).

    Funding for CPB (and subsequently NPR and PBS – yes, Sesamee Street) is provided under the same governemet guidelines as funds provided to the UPS Postal Service and our Public Schools. If you deem one unconstitutional, you are declaring the other two unconstitutional as well, and ignoring the powers granted to the Executive Branch of our governemt. So folks, anyone trying to tell you that Congress is running amok in giving funds to the NPR, is intentionally miss leading you from being able to see which branch of the governmet hods the purse strings of these institutions.

    And for those worried that the federal funds going to NPR are a blank check written by the liberal left of our governemt, the board of the CPB that provides those funds to NPR on a program by program basis is currently made up of 4 republicans, 4 democrats, and one independent. The chairman of the board is Patricia Harrison, the former co-chair of the Republican National Comittee.

    • Momma M

      As far as I’m concerned we shouldn’t be funding the DoEd or USPS either !

  • gringott

    I guess the point of being funded by the Federal Government means that you are not a private firm but rather a public agency and the 1st amendment should apply. If not, why am I paying taxes to fund a lefist woman chat channel on the radio? Or, why isn’t the right funded by the government on the radio? In other words, stop funding things with my tax money that you have no business funding in the first place.

  • dcsnark

    Concerning the First Amendment, you are wrong. That does not apply to private organizations. You can in fact be fired for what you say.

    If you call your boss a jerk – they can fire you. If you make a statement against what you boss and your company believes in – they can fire you. If you are fat, weak and stupid – they can fire you.

    “Congress shall make no law…abridging the right to the freedom of speech”.

    If I were you I’d edit this article and remove the first paragraph. Because if I were your boss, and you made such an error – I’d fire you. get it?

  • flips
  • johno413

    You’ve hit on a key point in my view. Power hungry politicians will always use Article 1 Section 8 for the basis of actions not otherwise obviously supported, primarily because the courts have a long history of allowing such “liberal” (generous?) interpretation of its meaning and intent. So the proper reaction for the electorate is to put people in place who do not and will not stretch the leveraging of the intent to the most abusive extreme. If they abuse it they loose next election.

    Fighting the actual power within the words may be a lost cause at this point.