Is the Internet a Post Road?

“land and naval forces” vs airforce would have been a better example.


Well the internet includes Email and pop ups are definitely junk mail.

The internet is the primary path of general written communication. As once were post offices on post roads.

You keep repeating this. Everybody else, unfortunately, keeps saying this is wrong. You need to make a better case for this assertion than mere repetition.


The Framers went to some effort to ensure that all citizens had access to an umbrella of communication by embedding it in the Constitution as an integral function of government. Post roads would of course have peripheral benefits like the free movement of goods and people and the conduct of commerce, but those are not the uses that justify inclusion in the Constitution. It is included as a task of the government in order to facilitate communication.

Providing the internet as a utility would probably follow the example of AT&T, a regulated monopoly. It was, after all, created through DARPA. There is nothing menacing or novel about government involvement,

The government interest in providing such a network is to facilitate education, commerce, and unity through communication. Most of the information is created by citizens, not the government. The government simply provides the physical facility over which the information is carried. Such controls as may be exercised, to maintain orderly intercourse, are a matter for the Legislators. A ubiquitous, high speed internet for citizens, education, industry and commerce well serves a compelling government interest. A government interest that is clearly addressed by the Framers in the Constitution.

I still don’t understand what you mean by “providing the internet.” The internet is not a thing, but the totality of many things, all of them international.

There is the so-called Tier 1 Network, comprised of CenturyLink (Level 3), Telia Carrier, NTT, GTT, Tata Communications, and Telecom Italia. In America, AT&T Inc., MCI, Sprint, and CenturyLink are the largest owners of the Internet backbone.

What are you suggesting? That the federal government take over the Tier 1 Network? That it take over the backbone? That it provide a wholly new service to compete with existing services? Do you want it to provide hardware or software or both? What would that look like? Or are you suggesting that the federal government create its own Facebook and news services? Do you want to reform the United States Information Agency except as an internal source of propaganda?

I hope you’re aware that in the U.S. alone, private industries have spent trillions of dollars building the backbone. How would the government have the money to compete or to privatize the existing backbone?

Please be specific about what you mean by the “internet” and a “public utility.” Do you want the feds to compete or monopolize? (Remember that the post office is not now nor has ever been a monopoly.) (Also remember that AT&T was never a federally regulated monopoly. Instead in 1913 it participated in an out-of-court agreement, the Kingsbury Commitment, that allowed “non-competing independent telephone companies to interconnect with the AT&T long-distance network” and forced it to divest from Western Union as the price for not breaking it up.) (Remember third that the telegraph itself was a system for written communications that was never considered legally a successor to the post office, so that’s a precedent against considering the internet one.) (Heck, remember that your latest post just repeats what you’ve been saying at longer length and doesn’t add anything new.)

There is no general interest in communication expressed in the Constitution. It says post offices and post roads. You may argue and I would likely agree that post offices and post roads greatly facilitated communication in the late 18th Century and it was probably why the founders placed the power to establish post offices and post roads in the Constitution.

But what the founders did not do was give Congress the power under the Postal Clause to do anything necessary and proper to facilitate communication. The clause gave Congress the power ONLY to establish post offices and post roads. Full stop. Not a single thing beyond that.

The internet is not a post office. It is not a road. IMHO, it is a wholly improper method of constitutional interpretation to say that this sort of sounds like that, so that. You know, they say that 40 is the new 30. Should we just go ahead and say that you have to be 45 to be president instead of 35? You know, keeping with the times and all.

Thanks, you make my point.

“IMHO, it is a wholly improper method of constitutional interpretation to say that this sort of sounds like that, so that. You know, they say that 40 is the new 30”

You mean like construing “well regulated militia” to mean ‘each and every citizen’? I agree. That is a reach. But we are talking about communication in the context of communication. No reach at all. The materials handled by the internet are identical to those handled by the post office and post roads.

The basic issue is: how does the Constitution accommodate the evolution of technology? What is immutable and what must follow the flow of progress?

I point you to article V, sir


You just keep saying that over and over without justifying it. Someone points out why it is incorrect and you just restate your premise.

Your militia argument is a hijack and belongs in the other thread. Nobody is saying that the reason people have the RKBA is because they belong to the technologically improved militia. They are arguing that the RKBA does not require militia status because of the unique construction of that amendment and the pre-existing right–but let’s do that in the other thread.

The Constitution does not say “communication.” It says post offices and post roads. Some things in the Constitution were written generally to allow for new technology: speech, press, arms, effects. Some things were very specific like natural born citizen, 35, two senators per state, post offices and post roads. Nobody needs to ponder at length what “age 35” is, nor do they need to think long about what a post office or post road is. It is exactly what it says it is and no more.

There is plenty of criticism when the courts take vague phrases like “due process” and “equal protection” to expand on the Constitution, but it is unheard of to take specific limited phrases and expand upon them. Your arguments are the only one that is advocating this unique and never before happened perspective. And I respectfully suggest that you need to justify this instead of simply reasserting your premise each time in response.

Finally, nothing is immutable. As @Max_S said you have Article V and Congress can do what it already did which is hijack the commerce clause to give itself nearly general police powers.

Then I yield to your greater wisdom. The question is decided. The internet is not a Post Road.

Thanks for the discussion.

And USAF is non-constitutional as airforces are not mentioned there?

About internet and compare to postal world: remember that ordinary email is like postcard, everybody who handles them can read them. Only fully encrypted email is like a letter, where only the recipeant can read it.

What would change if it was a post road? The federal government already involves itself in all kinds of communication mechanisms (telephones, radio, television, etc.) that aren’t post roads, and while it isn’t uninvolved in actual roads, it by and large limits itself to throwing cash at them. So what powers would be gained over the Internet that Congress doesn’t already possess through its substantial powers to regulate the means of interstate commerce?

You make my point. The federal government treats the internet like a post road.

Okay, it’s not a fair debate strategy to say you give up and fail to respond to an argument only to chime in later with another reassertion of the same point.

Congress does NOT treat the internet like a post road. It uses its powers under the commerce clause to regulate things like telephones, radio, television, the internet which cross state lines or otherwise affect interstate commerce.

Yeah, I was just supporting his post. No debate.

This is my opinion, yes. I have said so before, but I also mentioned it (less explicitly) upthread.


Congress has the power to raise and support armies. Why does an army have to stay out of the air?