Skip to comments.The courts don't own the Constitution: David Limbaugh pummels pols for jeopardizing freedoms
Posted on 03/22/2002 1:48:12 AM PST by JohnHuang2
It was a sad day when President Bush announced he would sign the just-passed campaign finance reform bill. No, I'm not talking about the bill's imminent damage to the First Amendment, as distressing as that is, but to a potentially bigger blow to the Constitution.
Democratic leaders (and, of course, John McCain and his devoted band of McCainiacs) have been obsessing over "reform" for a long time. Never once have they exhibited concern over whether their proposals were compatible with the First Amendment.
To them, the end apparently justifies the means, even if the means involves denigrating the Constitution. It's just a document anyway a living, breathing document that can be molded to say whatever they want it to say in furtherance of their ends.
How can you expect them to have much reverence for the Constitution when they believe it should be subordinated to their political interests? You can't and shouldn't.
But the Republican Party holds itself out as the guardian of the Constitution. So, when 11 of its senators cross over to sign this bill most everyone believes to be constitutionally flawed, it is disturbing. When a Republican president agrees to sign it into law a Republican president who earlier pledged to veto it it is even more disturbing, especially when in the process he admits the bill is of dubious constitutionality.
Why? Because both Congress and the president have an independent duty to uphold the Constitution. They are required, as a condition of taking office, to take an oath to support it.
What right do the Congress and the president have to ignore their oaths to support and defend the Constitution? What right do they have to abdicate their responsibilities to ensure that unconstitutional legislation does not become law? What right do they have to shirk their duties and confer on the Supreme Court the sole duty to uphold the Constitution?
Did you know that the text of the Constitution says nothing about the Supreme Court having the exclusive right to pass on constitutional questions? When Justice Marshall proclaimed the Court's power to declare acts of the legislative and executive branches unconstitutional in the 1803 case of Marbury vs. Madison, he wasn't relying on any specific constitutional provision.
In his opinion in that case, affirming that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, Marshall said, "an act of the legislature repugnant to the Constitution is void." In such case, "It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is."
Marshall did not say that because the Court is the final arbiter of constitutional questions, the other two branches are absolved of their duty to uphold the Constitution. Indeed, he expressly acknowledged the legislature's duty (along with the Court's) when he said, "it is apparent that the Framers of the Constitution contemplated that instrument as a rule for the government of the courts, as well as for the legislature."
Of course, this is true. To argue otherwise would be to assume that the Framers imposed constitutional requirements and limits on the legislative and executive branches that they didn't intend for them to follow unless the Court forced them to do so. That's absurd.
Do our criminal laws, by analogy, hold that we citizens are free to violate them as long as we don't get caught? What if all citizens decided to ignore the laws on the theory that it was not their duty to obey the law, but law enforcement's duty to coerce them into obeying it? The law, indeed ordered liberty itself, depends on citizens obeying the law.
If this is true, then how much more important is it that our elected officials even apart from their oaths protect and defend the Constitution? As a practical matter, if legislators and presidents were to act in total disregard of the Constitution anytime they pleased, there wouldn't be enough courts to stop them assuming they would anyway.
At one time, Congress and the president routinely honored their respective duties to consider the constitutionality of legislation. There used to be lengthy congressional debates over the constitutionality of legislation, and presidents vetoed many more bills than were invalidated by the Supreme Court on the basis of their unconstitutionality.
I don't mean to be too dramatic about all of this or to imply that the sky is falling, but the Constitution can only go so far in preserving our freedoms. If our elected officials are unwilling to honor it, they place those freedoms in jeopardy.
The more one opposes this bill on constitutional grounds the more one should support this course of action. If you really believe CFR is unconstitutional, then one should not fear taking this to the courts. A Bush veto does not kill CFR and only prolongs the debate while providing democrats with an issue to bear republicans with. Sign it and kill it in court.
Shays-Meehan = Big Government
The thing I can't understand is this. If one truely belives CFR unconstitutional, then how can one object to presenting this bill to USSC? It appears those that are most vocal on the need for Bush to veto are really the ones who are afraid.
Finally, a breath of fresh air and common sense. I wish you could get in the face of some of our more ignorant libertarian friends and explain to them too how the constitution works.
To the same court that once decided that a Black was 3/5 (or was it 2/5) of a person?
The same court that made Infantcide legal?
The same court that let the Brady Bill stand unopposed?
Er, David... I'm surprised your editor didn't catch this. Don't you remember the campaign? Bush blew a lot of hot air about his oath to "restore honor and dignity" but avoided mentioning the Constitution when describing that oath. Bush doesn't care about the Constitution. Take his steel tariff for example. Article I, sections 7&8 are very clear regarding taxation. Taxation of any kind is always supposed to originate within the House of Representatives, not the Executive Branch. And that's just ONE example of Emperor Junior's contempt for Constitutional principles.
The Republican Party does not hold itself out as the guardian of the Constitution. Rare is the occasion they even mention the document anymore.
But, more fundamentally, in order for there to be order, there must be one authority for judging the constitutionality of a law. The problem with leaving this issue to individual interpretation is that individuals differ in their opinions. Without a single authority for determining this issue, there is only chaos. No system of law can survive if everyone subject to law can determine whether each law is constitutional. In such a system, there could be no such thing as law since there would be as many laws as there are individuals. One cannot be conservative and believe otherwise.
I agree with most in that this law is bad law and should be killed. I happen to think the only way to kill it is USSC. Anything else just means it just keeps coming back, time after time. Do you want this battle to continue for years? Or do you want it overwith? A veto only prolongs the fight. If one truely believes this bill is unconstitutional, then there is nothing to fear.
One cannot explain the constitution to anyone who insists upon the right of each individual to define the constitution.
Why are we, and Bush, relying on the Supreme Court to strike down this unconstitutional bill? Especially courts that are packed with socialist-minded hacks?
What happened to the oath all politicians swear?
DugwayDuke is correct when he says, "...if Bush vetos this bill, then it will be back next year and the next year and the next."
This is exactly how big government has managed to trash our Constitution in years past, when my generation allowed them to "because it sounded like a good idea." The hacks wear you down with the medias help, finally convincing you "it's a good idea," and "we are 'protecting' you from corruption."
Ten million tons of grade "A" BS!
This is what makes a banana republic a banana republic. And this is what we are becoming -- with our president as top banana.
The issue is whether or not CFR conflicts with the Constitution, not whether or not it conflicts with the penumbrae, emanations, and other tea leaves which are read by the courts in place of the Constitution.
What part of "Congress shall make no law..." cannot be correctly interpreted by ANY citizen?
If the Supreme Court should allow this, then allow the other part fo the BoR to be similarly eroded, will you and VA stand by in compliance, or worse yet, in support?
Yeah, it's a shame that there are some of us who think that the citizens get ot read and understand the Constitution and are even allowed to have individual ideas about it.
Now THAT is a DAMN good question!!!
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