*Editor’s Note: This marks the final front page installment here of the joint KingstonBarn/CahillonKingston series I’ve been calling “Coming to Terms”. I’ve been having a great time with this, and I certainly hope it’s been as enjoyable for you as it has been for Mr. Cahill and me. In the future, I will keep up on the conversation, and post any further replies in the comment section attached to this post. Again, we thank you for reading, and encourage you to join the conversation in these pages or on CahillOnKingston. As always, all content from his blog is published with the expressed permission of Richard T Cahill, Jr.
The Supreme Court has offered many “interpretations” over the years that run contrary to the actual constitution.
For example, they issued an opinion in the Dred Scott case that African-Americans were property and not human beings.
They have also created rights out of whole cloth that have no basis in the Constitution and should have been issues for the States under the 10th Amendment.
The Supreme Court was designed to define the limitations of the Constitution. Unfortunately, the Court has allowed itself to become a second legislature and a policy decider. It is supposed to enforce the Constitution but instead bends it and twists it to the point of breaking.
I always find it interesting when someone argues that the Constitution is great because it can be bent to serve the current intent of the day.
In actuality, the government is supposed to serve the people under the restrictions of the Constitution.
However, just as government now seemingly demands that the people serve it, government now demands that the Constitution serve the government as well.
A big part of the so-called justification for creeping (or perhaps now full gallloping) Socialism is the claim that the Constitution is a “living document” that molds itself to our will. Such talk is nonsense. The Constitution was designed to keep the federal government limited and under control.
Sadly, as with any document or rule of law, when people (such as Jefferson in the example you note) disregard same for personal or alleged societal gain, we abandon the founding principles. I doubt whether the founding fathers would even recognize the United States of 2012.
December 5, 2012 8:16 AM
Success! The point of this blog, and this conversation, is to find points of agreement, and we have. I concur with much of what you’ve written above. I will get to our common views presently, but first…
I take some slight umbrage with the characterization of pointing out the differences between what Madison and Jefferson said and did as an “attack”. As you raise their words in support of your points, I point to their actions regarding the Constitution in support of mine.
Madison and Jefferson were great and complicated men, shaping their country and their world in difficult times. They did more than most to create the United States of America. They wrought the documents that are the foundation of this country. Of course they made mistakes along the way, as will all men in any office, but my point remains. What they wrote in letters or articles about the Constitution does not change what they did in the Constitution, or what they did for or against it as it stood.
I will agree with you that the Supreme Court has been making decisions that run contrary to the Constitution, as you remark, “over the years”. Your example of the Dred Scott Decision (1857) was considered one of the worst in American history. It ran over States Rights and held an Act of Congress unconstitutional. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) upheld Jim Crow laws, nearly 30 years after the 14th Amendment passed. Schenck v. United States (1919) trampled over the defendant’s 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech.
In 1886, The Supreme Court declared corporations are people and have all of the constitutional rights of people, even though the Constitution explicitly guarantees rights for people and grants none to corporations. That was Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, and the Citizens United decision of 2010 upheld that and affirmed that money equals speech. I will give a tax-free dollar to the first who can show me those two provisions anywhere in the Constitution.
Your contention that these bad decisions have been going on for years, though, only supports mine as it relates to your original post. You say we killed the Constitutional Republic on Election Day this year. The President, Congress, and the Supreme Court have been taking actions “that run contrary to the actual constitution” for well over 200 years. Here are the choices: Either, the constitutional republic known as the United States of America was killed within ten years of its birth and has been buried a thousand times over, or it is alive and well and will survive this President, this Court, and this Congress, as it has in times of Reagan, Nixon, Roosevelt, Hoover, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Adams.
The Constitution’s Amending Clause (Article V, Section I) does not make it easy to change, nor does it make change impossible. I would not say that makes it flexible enough to bend to the intent of the day. What I did say was, “They allowed for change and interpretation according to the will of the governed.”
If Frank Luntz wants to call taxing and spending, which has been legal and allowed by the Constitution since its ratification, “redistribution of wealth”, he may. If Roger Ailes wants to define government spending as ”Socialism”, I suppose he can do that, too. Rick Warren can call Supreme Court Judges “activist” because he does not like their decisions. He can even convene an arena revival to get others to chant and cheer his words. But them saying it, and getting others to repeat it, does not make it so.
Your first-response complaint, that “millions of people sat on their butts while a man with a clear socialist agenda has been reelected,” does not change the definition of a republican form of government. The lazy abdication of civic duty does not buy any citizen a pass on responsibility.
By any definition you choose, we have a republican form of government. We directly elect our representatives, as described in the Constitution. We send our Electors to elect the President, as described in the Constitution. The President nominates and the Congress confirms our Supreme Court Justices, as described in the Constitution. Laws are passed in Congress, signed by the President, and interpreted by the Courts, all as described in the Constitution. The Constitution also provides for removal of all of these officers, should circumstances warrant. According to the Constitution, our first stop in controlling our government is at our polling place.
In the beginning or in the end, our most important agreement is, and must be, that our duty does not end with the ballot box. Without our action, our civil rights are only so much fading ink on yellowing pieces of paper.