By they, I mean the people who lord it over us. Our rulers. I choose the word deliberately, in the interests of editorial accuracy. We’re certainly not ruled by the Constitution.
And neither are they.
Consider, for instance, this business of judicial review. The power claimed by the Supreme Court to “interpret” the Constitution. It is a power you will find nowhere in the Constitution itself, or even hinted at. It was simply asserted by the first chief justice, John Marshall (who was a cousin of but also – unsurprisingly – a great enemy of Thomas Jefferson’s) in a kind of lawyerly Beer Hall Putsch. The court, under Marshall, defined and decreed its own power. It has been the final arbiter of what the Constitution “really” means ever since.
Even when the court’s interpretation is obviously at odds with the plain meaning of what is actually written in the Constitution.
This is the mechanism by which we are halted and searched randomly – the very definition of unreasonable, which is the language you will find in the Constitution. But the Court has repeatedly asserted its own fluid definition, Humpty Dumpty-style, contrary to what is written and simply because it can. The Fourth (and other amendments) mean whatever the Court says they mean, which means they mean nothing at all.
The Constitution defines the president as a mere administrator. It is not his job (under the Constitution) to “create jobs” or start wars yet he does both (or tries to) as a matter of routine. So routine has this become that it’s now expected – even demanded – by the electorate.
Making war – and “creating jobs” – are two of the chief themes of modern presidential debates and the basis for judging the merits (the greatness) of a given president. Check Shoprite Specials and Spar Specials. Yet they have no lawful power to do either thing – under the Constitution.
Presidents are great to the extent they ignore the Constitution. Lincoln, Wilson, FDR. Whether you regard the actions of these men as meritorious is beside the point. Their actions were patently not constitutional.
Since the time of Lincoln, at least, American presidents have become elected monarchs, who rule to a great extent by a decree called the executive order, which is another thing you will find nowhere in the Constitution. It is another made-up power seized by those who wield power.
Perhaps you have noticed a pattern.
This power is being used more and more promiscuously – as recently by President Obama with regard to “controlling” guns (that is, controlling people who wish to exercise their right, which is in the Constitution, to keep and bear arms). The president was not able to get what he wanted through the constitutional legislative process, so he simply issued an executive order. It is the American version of a Fuhrerbefehl. That is, an order issued from the leader.
Expect more such to be issued in the coming years.
Congress is supposed to issue the nation’s currency – not a cartel of private banks. The Constitution is pretty clear on this point, too. Yet our money is under the control of private banks styling themselves the “Federal” Reserve in a pre-Clintonian (and clearly not-constitutional) contortion of the plain meaning of words.
There is nothing in the Constitution authorizing a tax on income or property – yet we are afflicted with both.
How did a man from, say, Pennsylvania acquire the power to dictate to parents in Kentucky how their children will be educated, what they will be taught? Scrutinize the yellowed document till the cows come home and you will find no such power awarded to senators or representatives under the Constitution. Yet they have this power – and many others besides.
Where is it written in the Constitution that anyone has a right to health care? Or the obligation – enforceable – to purchase a health insurance policy? And if the government has the power to confer a right to health care (to be provided by others) and to require that people purchase health insurance, it logically follows that the government has the power to confer a right to food and housing (also provided by others) and to require that people purchase life and home and maybe gun insurance, too. If we’re allowed to retain our guns, of course.
What would be the constitutional objection?
Instead, it would be hashed out by the Court – which might decide it is (or isn’t) “constitutional”… according to its own reasoning but never referencing the actual document.
If the Constitution were, as we’re often told, the law of the land then it would have the force of law. It doesn’t. The clear prohibitions described therein are ignored as routinely and contemptuously as the speed limit; the carefully delineated processes and protocols respected less than the virtue of a $20 Vegas streetwalker.
Which brings up an important question. If the law is not respected (much less obeyed) by those who rule us, why should it be respected or obeyed by us?
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