The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.8.3: "The Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations." This provision in the Constitution gives Congress the right to represent the citizens of the United States in regulating commerce with foreign nations.
W. Cleon Skousen wrote, "This is an exclusive and sovereign power with nothing reserved to the states. In a technical sense this authority did not have to be granted by the states because it came automatically as a plenary power with the creation of a national government. In other words, it is a power inherent in any sovereign government to deal with foreign nations.
"In 1807-8 President Thomas Jefferson cut off all trade with Europe. This was attacked on the ground that federal regulation must always be to `preserve' commerce, not destroy it. The Supreme Court held that this power is all-inclusive, and the Congress may decide when it is in the public interest to have the President terminate certain foreign commerce" (The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 400).
Congress has the power to determine what articles can be imported into our nation and the terms of importation. Congress also has the power to ban certain articles from entering the United States. Skousen gave two different examples of items being banned from entering our nation: obscene literature (1843) and spurious or adulterated drugs and adulterated food and liquor (1848). A later ban was placed on opium, lottery tickets, and diseased cattle.
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