Liberals love to call the U.S. Constitution a “living document” — in other words, one that changes through time in order to keep up with the times.
And at one level, they are certainly right. Because the Constitution can be amended at any time through a difficult but manageable process, it can reflect the changing needs of our people.
Unfortunately, what liberals mean by “change” is that an activist judge can force the rest of us to do whatever he or she wants by dint of judicial fiat. If a judge (or ultimately the Supreme Court) says the Constitution allows the government to force you to buy health insurance, then it’s a done deal, regardless of whether the Constitution says so or not.
Under such a scenario, the Constitution thus becomes a tool for social engineering rather than a protection against government excess, as it was originally intended.
What is missing from this liberal formula of constitutional re-interpretation is an acknowledgment that the Constitution is an “immortal document” as well as a “living” one — and that it enshrines principles that are true not just for one time but for all times.
Its core values cannot be changed without turning it into just a mere “piece of paper” — as at least one recent president is alleged to have called it. But for millions of us, it is plain that politicians have no regard for the Constitution or see it as a way to control the people, rather than a way for the people to control the government.
Do we really need to remind ourselves that the Constitution begins with “We the people” and not “We the overseers”? It is “we the people” who wrote and “ordained” the Constitution, and it is we who should hold the power to change it — through the prescribed amendment process, not through subterfuge and politically correct judicial appointments. Nor should we forget the stated purpose of the Constitution — to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
Notice that it was not just the founders of this country, but all of us — their national posterity — who are guaranteed under the Constitution the “Blessings of Liberty.” This is a clause of the Constitution which is too little spoken of — perhaps because the people’s liberty is a significant inconvenience to the government’s authority.
As the ruling class has more and more isolated to themselves the power to dictate what is and is not an appropriate use of the blessings of liberty, we have seen a corresponding decrease in the actual liberty we enjoy. This is true whether the power is exercised by the Legislature, the Executive or the Judiciary.
In the past two years, under the increasingly arrogant one-party rule of the Democrats, we have seen the Congress and president not only ignore the Constitution, but do so enthusiastically. Many examples exist of congressmen and senators who have laughed at the Constitution. Most recently Rep. Pete Stark of California intoned at a town-hall meeting that “there are very few constitutional limits that would prevent the federal government from rules that could affect your private life.... The federal government, yes, can do most anything in this country.”
It is just such a matter-of-factly despotic view of government that terrifies millions of Americans today, as without the protection of the Constitution we are no longer citizens but rather subjects, and we may have reached a point where the Constitution offers just about as much protection to “we the people” as an umbrella in a hurricane.
But if the Congress and president have overstepped the bounds of their authority, the only hope for securing the Blessings of Liberty for our own posterity is the judiciary holding back the other two branches of government with a proper restraint.
Unfortunately, it now appears all but certain that the judiciary is poised to join Congress and the president in a ruling troika that will crush not just the Constitution, but the underlying liberty and self-evident truths on which it was based.
An activist judiciary that tells the people what they can and cannot do as sovereign citizens is the enemy of liberty, no matter how much it pretends to uphold it in the name of political correctness.
In the past two months, we have seen the people of two formerly sovereign states — Arizona and California — told that they do not possess self-rule. In both cases, the judges used the U.S. Constitution as a bludgeon to crush the people’s expression of their own liberty, rather than a guard against government encroachment as it was intended.
In the first case, a judge in Arizona ruled that the people of Arizona have no right to protect themselves against an invasion of illegal immigrants because the “overseers” in Washington, D.C., have chosen not to address the problem. The judge ignored the plain facts of the case and indeed misstated the facts in order to craft a ruling that protected illegal immigrants and reduced the citizens of Arizona to a form of federal chattel.
Now, in a stunning reversal of hundreds of years of jurisprudence, a judge in California has ruled that the people of the state of California have no right to determine for themselves what rules they shall approve for the consecration of the institution of marriage. With Proposition 8, the people of California amended their state Constitution to succinctly say that marriage shall be between one man and one woman, just as it has been for thousands of years.
What is most annoying about this ruling is that Judge Vaughn Walker based it on the U.S. Constitution, claiming that it was “unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses.” This would no doubt have come as a surprise to the millions of Americans who have lived and died since those clauses were written. It is a plain and simple fact that those clauses were not intended to force Americans to adopt a new morality to please a California judge.
Equal protection means that once the legislature has pronounced the will of the people, that edict shall be applied fairly and evenly to all people. In other words, if the state of California says that marriage is between one man and one woman, then every man and every woman shall have the free opportunity to enjoy that relationship. The equal protection clause means that a gay man cannot be prohibited from marrying a woman just because he is gay. He would have as much right to marry a woman as anyone else. Discrimination shall be prohibited in the application of the law. Period.
But the law itself shall be decided by “we the people” and our legislatures, not by a runaway judge who thinks he knows better than everyone else.
Sooner or later, the people will rise up and demand “the blessings of liberty” promised to them by the Constitution. That does not mean that we are all free to do whatever we want, but rather that together we have the right to control our common destiny.
Thomas Jefferson, who in many ways was a libertarian, understood this truth well. Thus, he wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
If the President, Congress and Judiciary continue to impose their will on the country, rather than taking their marching orders from us, then it is only a matter of time before the “consent of the governed” is withdrawn.
When that happens, heaven help us.