Is Social Security something the U.S. Constitution allows the federal government to do?
- Mr. SmartypantsLv 78 years agoFavorite Answer
The constitutionality of Social Security is intricately linked to the evolving nature of Supreme Court jurisprudence on federal power (the 20th century saw a dramatic increase in allowed congressional action). When Social Security was first passed, there were significant questions over its constitutionality as the Court had found another pension scheme, the original Railroad Retirement Act, to violate the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Some, such as University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein and Robert Nozick, have argued that Social Security should be unconstitutional.
In the 1937 U.S. Supreme Court case of Helvering v. Davis, the Court examined the constitutionality of Social Security when George Davis of the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of Boston sued in connection with the Social Security tax. The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts first upheld the tax. The District Court judgment was reversed by the Circuit Court of Appeals. Commissioner Guy Helvering of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (now the Internal Revenue Service) took the case to the Supreme Court, and the Court upheld the validity of the tax.
During the 1930s President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in the midst of promoting the passage of a large number of social welfare programs under the New Deal and the High Court struck down many of those programs (such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Recovery Act) as unconstitutional. Modified versions of the affected programs were afterwards approved by the Court, including Social Security.
When Helvering v. Davis was argued before the Court, the larger issue of constitutionality of the old-age insurance portion of Social Security was not decided. The case was limited to whether the payroll tax was a suitable use of Congress's taxing power. Despite this, no serious challenges regarding the system's constitutionality are now being litigated, and Congress's spending power may be more coextensive, as shown in cases like South Dakota v. Dole during the Reagan Administration
- Answer DancerLv 68 years ago
Agree with Wikipedia citation. Here's the Constitutional logic from socialsecurity.gov
The constitutional basis of the Social Security Act was uncertain. The basic problem is that under the "reserve clause" of the Constitution (the 10th Amendment) powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved for the States or the people. When the federal government seeks to expand its influence in new areas it must find some basis in the Constitution to justify its action. Obviously, the Constitution did not specifically mention the operation of a social insurance system as a power granted to the federal government! The Committee on Economic Security (CES) struggled with this and was unsure whether to claim the commerce clause or the broad power to levy taxes and expend funds to "provide for the general welfare," as the basis for the programs in the Act. Ultimately, the CES opted for the taxing power as the basis for the new program, and the Congress agreed, but how the courts would see this choice was very much an open question.
- ?Lv 78 years ago
The US Constitution does not specifically allow Congress the power to set up something like Social Security, no. But the courts are the arbiter of Constitutional disputes, and Social Security has not been ruled to be unconstitutional, so it is not. (The judicial branch's task to review constitutionality is actually also not in the Constitution, but has become traditionally accepted.)
- DONLv 58 years ago
There is nothing in the US Constitution that requires a US Citizen to sign up for or use a social security number for any reason. There is no law requiring any citizen to have a social security number but non-resident aliens must have one. Although there is no law prohibiting it either and anyone who signs up for the number is volunteering but it is a private number and is not to be used for identification (which is written on my social security card) it is only for social security benefits and not meant as an ID number. So it is not mandatory but is allowed just like there is no law requiring a individual citizen to file or pay income tax either.
Read it for your self at www.originalintent.org or www.truthattack.org and I also wrote the social security administration and they responded stating there is no law requiring a US Citizen to have a social security number-- so it is up to the individual
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- FlowerLv 78 years ago
It does not violate the Constitution and that is the issue.
- Anonymous8 years ago
Social Security something the U.S. Constitution will not allow.just like the U.S government must keep no sercets about its speending and people have a right to identity/private information 100%secret.
- Anonymous8 years ago
- Anonymous8 years ago
Nope. It's government run amock.
- StephenGLv 78 years ago
yes t isn't prohibited anywhere
- 8 years ago
FDR made it happen.