T he Founders understood the importance of science and technology in the long-term future of the United States.
Without science and engineering advancement, in the face of advancement by others, America could not compete with our ideological and economic challengers.
Imagine our world if Nazi Germany had atomic weapons or the former Soviet Union had developed nuclear submarines or had reached the Moon before America. The economic and personal incentives for Americans to invent and publish have grown from this remarkable clairvoyance. Clearly, the Founders only meant for this Clause to apply to the fruits of research activities by individuals.
Federal protection of intellectual property by copyright and patent law flows from this constitutional power.
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Implementation of those powers logically requires federal involvement in science and engineering research, as follows:. Relative particularly to national security, clear Article I constitutional support therefore exists for federal sponsorship, directly or indirectly, of science and technology research that applies to the following:.
Under Article II, the Executive also has enumerated powers that require support from science and engineering research but which require budgetary concurrence by the Congress and, of course, congressional approval of necessary levels of supporting taxation or debt.
Article II, Section 2, Presidential powers include:.
Science and technology research necessary to support the authorized functions of Departments and Agencies, therefore, must adhere to the limits of the enumerated powers of Congress; that is, it would be unconstitutional for Presidential appointees to be given budgetary authority to undertake activities that Article I does not state as being within the power of Congress to authorize or fund.
In this, the President only needs Congressional concurrence on overall budgets.
Both entities share this mandated function. For not carrying out that mandate, Presidents can be impeached and Members of Congress can be removed in their next election cycle. The fact that the Constitution does not define the functions of any Executive Department, outside those implicit in enumerated powers, indicates an intent that this definition would be left to the interplay between the Congress and the Office of the President.
The need for the Executive to deal with national defense and matters of state, treasury, commerce, law enforcement, and postal service derives from Articles I and II. The President, with funding concurrence by the Congress, therefore has significant discretion in assigning science and technology research duties to federal Departments and Agencies so long as Congress can constitutionally fund their implementation.
Development of weapons and intelligence gathering systems and systems that support the armed forces overall are obvious examples of the exercise of this constitutional discretion. Persuasive constitutional arguments also can be made for federal support of science and technology research in medicine, agriculture, energy, and natural resources based on the specific applicability to national security of research projects in these arenas. An increasingly healthy population and the obvious need for indigenous supplies of food, energy, and raw materials provide adequate justification for most of the research activities of related federal Departments.
These arguments find strong support in history and in consideration of possible future national security threats and the need for improved and more diverse means of meeting those threats. The Constitution, on the other hand, does not empower the Congress to provide funding for, nor can the President direct, research that does not have specific applicability to powers enumerated in Articles I or II.
This fact calls into question the constitutionality of research on societal, economic, cultural, demographic, and educational issues that have no direct relationship to national security or constitutionally required congressional redistricting and that could be carried out through privately funded institutions, associations, cooperative State initiatives, and businesses rather than by the federal government.
The 10th Amendment relegates decisions on the conduct of such soft research to the people or the States. Notably, such projects include canals, locks, dams, and levees beginning in the early s; agricultural research through Land Grant academic institutions created in s and s; the Transcontinental Railroad in the late s; construction of the Panama Canal at the turn of the 20th Century; aeronautical research that began early in the s; continuously upgraded defense and reconnaissance systems since the s; the Manhattan Project of the s; development of a Nuclear Navy and related power systems, communication satellites, and the Interstate Highway System in the s; and the Apollo Moon-landing Program of the s.
Why is the US Constitution so hard to amend? - Peter Paccone
Even though strong constitutional support exists for significant federal funding of science and engineering research, the justification for such support becomes blurred relative to big and small, pure science projects exploring the edges of our understanding of nature. Although difficult to quantify, their constitutional rationale for selective support of pure scientific research lies primarily in the stimulation of educational initiatives that train the scientists and engineers that ultimately serve more direct constitutional functions, particularly national security.
Unfortunately, the once bright future for both federally and privately funded science and technology research has dimmed in the United States. Mismanagement of federal projects is endemic.
A federal attack on private academic and research institutions has commenced through unconstitutional regulatory interference.
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Further, unless the next Congress and the next President contain and reduce the national debt and the cost and reach of both entitlements and unnecessary regulations, remaining taxpayers will have little money left to fund future research no matter how important and constitutional. Relative particularly to national security, clear Article I constitutional support therefore exists for federal sponsorship, directly or indirectly, of science and technology research that applies to the following: Weapons of all kinds that can effectively support the functions of the armed forces.
Natural, agricultural, and other resources required for national security. Military logistics technologies and transportation systems, including national highways, waterways, rail systems, and aeronautics and space systems.
Nationally critical energy systems and the basic sciences that underlie such systems the development of which lies beyond the capabilities of the people acting in their private capacities. Potential future military technologies such as space and missile defense, external threat sensing, cyber attack, and so forth.
National border protection and enforcement. Medical research applicable to the maintenance of a healthy population from which soldiers are drawn as required and to the treatment of wounded soldiers and veterans. Climate and weather as they impact national security. Previous Post Previous Next Post Next