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Charles Scheppers

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

Continuing from the previous letter to the editor about the second section of the 13th Amendment, "Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Reading from Justice Swayne's opinion, United States vs. Rhodes, 27 Federal Cases 785 (1866), page 793, "Without any other provision than the first section of the (13th) amendment, congress would have had authority to give full effect to the abolition of slavery thereby decreed. It would have been competent to put in requisition the executive and judicial, as well as the legislative power, with all the energy needful for that purpose. The second section of the amendment was added out of abundant caution. It authorizes congress to select, from time to time, the means that might be deemed appropriate to the end. It employs a phrase which had been enlightened by well-considered judicial application. Any exercise of legislative power within its limits involves a legislative, and not a judicial question. It is only when the authority given has been clearly exceeded, that the judicial power can be invoked. Its office, then, is to repress and annul the excess; beyond that it is powerless."

Why would Justice Swayne bring this up unless it meant Congress intended to shut out judicial review of its actions under a new form of government? From your reading of the Dred Scott vs. Sandford case, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), you know that Dred Scott, not being a citizen, had no access to the judicial power of the USA for his relief. This is the same condition Congress desired for its intended subjects under the 13th and later amendments. This power clause, reserving to Congress all power, placing its actions outside the scope of the judicial power, is repeated throughout the subsequent reconstruction amendments and those thereafter.

Congress has been allowed to circumvent the separation of powers doctrine essential to the original system of government. Although there are still courts and decisions, they do not fully address the issues and do not serve as a check against the legislative branch of government.

Congress thereby controls two branches of government. People complain that the constitutions are not upheld; actually, the power clause of the 13th and later amendments is upheld daily.

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