John Taylor

Below is an argument from strict constitutionalist John Taylor (1753—1824), U.S. Senator from Virginia, against John Marshall’s conception of “implied powers”.

Roads are necessary in war; therefore congress may legislate locally concerning roads. Victuals, manufactures, and a certain state of national manners, are more necessary in war; therefore congress may legislate locally, concerning agriculture, manufactures and manners. The favour of the Deity is more necessary than either; therefore congress may provide salaries for priests of all denominations, in order to obtain it, without infringing the constitutional prohibition against an establishment; or they may incorporate sects, and exempt them from taxation. Roads are more necessary for collecting taxes than even banks. Taverns are very necessary or convenient for the officers of the army, congress themselves, the conveyance of the mail, and the accommodation of judges. But horses are undoubtedly more necessary for the conveyance of the mail and for war, than roads, which may be as convenient to assailants as defenders; and therefore the principle of an implied power of legislation, will certainly invest congress with a legislative power over horses. In short, this mode of construction completely establishes the position, that congress may pass any internal law whatsoever in relation to things, because there is nothing with which, war, commerce and taxation may not be closely or remotely connected.

John Taylor

Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated