Constitutional Subversion

So the Supremes have ruled that Big Brother can force us to buy things. Gee, what could possibly go wrong with that new power? And in forums and other discussion areas, when we point out that there is nothing in the constitution that allows that, the responses from the Big Brother fanboys would be amusing if their love of BB’s boot wasn’t so depressing. And predictable.

This is providing fertile grounds for pundits of all political stripes. Some will argue that it’s a wonderful thing. Tyrants always have an army of sycophants cheering them on. Others will argue that it is an unprecedented expansion of federal power. It’s not; the Supremes have a long history of justifying unconstitutional expansions of federal power. Self styled experts will proclaim that it’s a correct decision because the constitution’s commerce clause makes it constitutional. It doesn’t. Some will even argue that it’s constitutional because the Supremes said it is. Nope. It’s now legal, but that doesn’t make it constitutional.

Anyone discussing how this or any other horrible SC decision is clearly unconstitutional is almost guaranteed to hear the most common, lamest, and tiresome retort from the sycophants: “You’re not a constitutional scholar. So there. Nyah nyah nyah.” This usually comes from people who, just a few conversations ago, were pontificating about Citizens United or some other decision they disagreed with. Their personal equation is simple: When they disagree with a SC decision they are constitutional experts. When they agree with a decision those who point out the flaws in it are unqualified, and therefore their opinion is meaningless. They manage to blend Cognitive Bias and Argument From Authority into a refreshingly chilled blend of logical fallacies, flavored with a heaping dose of smug. They gulp it down so quickly brain freeze is inevitable.

There are many subjects that require a lifetime of study to master. The Constitution isn’t one of them. It is a very simple document. It’s less than 5,000 words and can be read, slowly and carefully, in about a half hour. It fits neatly into a pocket sized pamphlet. (I have one distributed by the Girl Scouts – it’s very handy.) There are only a few places where the meaning might be unclear, and they can be resolved with a bit more research. For instance, the meanings of the words “militia” and “well-regulated” have changed since the BOR was written, so you need a bit of research to discover what the Founding Fathers meant. It will take you about ten minutes on the internet.

You need to do a bit more than that, though. You have to spend some time on other writings of the FFs. They knew they were making history, and most of them preserved their writings, letters, and articles for posterity. The Federalist Papers are a good start. There are tens of thousands of pages of other writings as well, but it’s not necessary to read them all, or even most of them, to get a good understanding of their motives and beliefs. Yes, you could spend a lifetime studying them, (and they all were fascinating people) but that’s not necessary. You can develop a great deal of expertise on the constitution and the intent of the FFs with just a few weeks of study.  Study it for a few months and you’ll know more about it than 98% of your fellow Americans.

You’ll learn that the whole purpose of the constitution was to limit federal power. It lists about a dozen and a half things the feds can do, and the tenth amendment says they can’t do anything that’s not on the list.

Once you have a good understanding of what the FFs wanted, what they felt was the right and proper role of the federal government in the lives of American citizens, you can start looking through Supreme Court decisions. Prepare to be appalled. Pick a time period, any time period, and so some research. Go back ten years and you’ll find plenty of appalling decisions. Go back fifty years and you’ll more appalling decisions. Go back to just a few years after the country was founded and you’ll find appalling decisions.

Throughout its entire history the Supreme Court has made it a policy to twist and subvert the very clear intent of the FFs into rulings that allow for expansion of federal power. Their most common excuse is the Commerce Clause, which was intended to let the feds mediate disputes between the states. Almost immediately after we became a country the Supremes ruled that the CC allowed the government to regulate everything that ever crossed state lines, which was not at all the original intent.

But regulating everything that crossed state lines wasn’t good enough for them. In Wickard v. Filburn  they ruled that growing food for your own use could be prevented by the feds, even though there was no commerce and nothing crossed state lines. They affirmed that in Gonzales v. Raich in 2005.  You don’t need a law degree to recognize just how completely wrong and unconstitutional those decisions were. You just have to be able to read.

You do need an intense legal education to be able to subvert the constitution, to ignore its clear meanings, and to twist the words into supporting unconstitutional laws and policies. That’s what the Supreme Court does, routinely, and has through its entire history. Big Government presidents from “both” parties appoint judges who love their particular flavor of Big Government and those appointees justify most of the garbage legislation that’s passed. They do like the first amendment, and usually (but not always) make the correct interpretation of it, but that’s where it ends.

It is obvious they’re not sitting down and asking, “is this law/rule/regulation in keeping with what the constitution actually says?” Instead they’re thinking “I like this law” or “I don’t like this law.”  Then they twist those very clear words to justify what they’ve already decided. It doesn’t matter what the document really says, or what the FFs intentions were. If there were no commerce clause to misinterpret, they’d twist the general welfare clause. If that wasn’t in there they’d find some other part of the constitution to subvert. They don’t discriminate; they’ve twisted every part of the constitution to suit their will, with the exception of the third amendment.  And we can be certain that if the feds wanted to force us to allow solders to live with us, they’d find a way around that one too.

They are experts at it. They obviously delight in doing it. And they are constitutional scholars. They went to school for a long time, and practiced law for a long time after that, to develop the expertise necessary take something written that clearly and twist it to mean something else, sometimes the exact opposite of what it actually says.

People like you (the Smartenized reader) and me, who have merely studied the constitution on our own, are used to the scorn we get from the sycophants. “Pfft,” they say, “you aren’t legal scholars.”

“Perhaps not,” we reply. “But we don’t have to be. We can read. We can educate ourselves. You should give it a try sometime.”


3 Comment(s)

  1. What are your thoughts on the “power to tax” though? After all, that was the one defense the Court agreed with. Although I don’t like the idea, why can’t any income for the government be called a tax?

    Alec | Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

  2. The power to tax is the power to destroy. And yes, everything the government makes you pay for should be considered a tax – licencing fees, permit fees, fines, they’re all taxes.

    In a similar vein, federal agencies claim they’re not making laws, but passing regulations. But those regulations are backed by force. Violate an EPA rule, for instance, and they will use armed men to enforce it, therefore, it is a law. Calling it a regulation doesn’t change that fact.

    Dave Hitt | Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

  3. I think the lesson we can learn is that a constitution or any other written laws are basically meaningless. Especially when those laws are there to limit power. If someone wants something and they have money (and therefore power) they can get it.

    I am not sure there is anyway to maintain a system as the ‘founding fathers’ envisioned for very long.

    Mike | Jul 26, 2012 | Reply

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