Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

Does the federal government work for us?

“Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like the national interest.”

~ Thomas Sowell, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

More than 200 years ago, the states united and wrote a contract, the Constitution, creating an employee, the federal government; and that contract outlined specific tasks the federal government would perform for the states’ combined welfare.

However, in the early 1800s, the Supreme Court ruled that it alone presided over the Constitution and it alone would decide what the Constitution said. Is this what the Founding Fathers and the states intended? Did they mean for the Supreme Court to decide its own powers and those of the rest of the federal government?

The Welfare State

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Shouldn’t those advocating the United States continue its ever-expanding welfare state look more closely at what is happening in Europe under the staggering weight of its “cradle to grave” welfare mentality? Though it sounds charitable and caring, is “cradle to grave” welfare possible? How long can you sustain giving people more than they earn? When you pay people to do less, don’t they do less and continually demand more?

Roe v. Wade – Did we get what we wanted?

Recently, parents successfully sued for “wrongful birth” because their child was born with Down syndrome, claiming if it had been accurately diagnosed early in the pregnancy, they would have chosen abortion.

With Roe v. Wade, did well-meaning people start us down an unintended path to a child being worthy of birth only if the parents find him or her desirable? Are we heading toward designer babies, babies who come with guarantees of perfection? Was this the intent of those supporting Roe v. Wade?

Gun control – the wrong discussion

“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.”

~ Thomas Jefferson, 1781

A Connecticut man murdered 20 children and 6 adults, gun control proponents again advocating that disarming law-abiding citizens will solve the problem. And though I believe their logic is folly, we still need a reasoned debate on the issue.

But, lest we forget, gun ownership is still a constitutional right; it is not a constitutional privilege; it is not a governmental privilege; it is not a presidential privilege. The Constitution does not allow the federal government to “evolve” the Constitution to address perceived changing times and needs. It must have the permission of “We the People” in the form of an amendment for change to occur.

What happened to our “Hallmark” values?

Each Christmas season my wife and I look forward to days we spend watching one Hallmark movie after another; hopefully a snowy day with a fire in the fireplace.

We just finished watching Hallmark’s “Have a Little Faith,” which I taped earlier this week. As the first commercial began, I realized I was not fast-forwarding through it as I normally would. Instead, I wanted to watch the Hallmark commercial.

Why? Their commercials are as good as their movies and they still bring tears to my eyes. They remind me of our faith, our values, our traditions, of what we were, and of what we could again become.

Unlimited power – Part IV

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.” – W. C. Fields

Though I hope this quote refers to the following Supreme Court rulings, some might suggest it better refers to my assessment of the rulings.

After giving Congress the power to do whatever it determined was for the “general Welfare of the United States,” the Supreme Court had to wait 5 years for President Franklin Roosevelt’s next constitutional target, the opportunity to give Congress control within the states and control over individuals.

Unlimited power – Part III

Since ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791, the Supreme Court has found a constitutional answer to every case brought before it. Doesn’t it seem unlikely that a document prepared in the 1700s could address all issues for more than two hundred years? We currently have nine justices, none elected by the people, all appointed to their office for life, who claim absolute control over the United States Constitution. Is this what the founding fathers and the states intended? With their fear of government, why would they give unchecked power to any branch of the federal government?

The beginning of the end – Part II

Three Supreme Court rulings changed our lives, making our Constitution near irrelevant. One gave the Supreme Court unlimited, unchecked power; the other two gave Congress unlimited power.

The first ruling created the concept of judicial review, which is the claimed power by the Supreme Court to have the final voice in all issues concerning the United States Constitution. This power is not granted it in the Constitution; moreover, it is not granted to any branch of the federal government. Why might that be? Why would such a critical power not be assigned to one of the three branches of the federal government?

The path to socialism – Part I

“We do not have socialism. We have regulated capitalism.” – ISJ reader comment

Is that true? Is it all or none? Or is the path to socialism a process so slow that each individual step is logical, masking the eventual outcome and encouraging inattention and indifference until it’s too late? More important, if we are not yet socialist, is our federal government still the limited government the founding fathers created with the United States Constitution?

Does it still respect state’s rights? Does it still respect individual rights and freedoms? Before answering, remember that this past summer the Second Amendment was upheld by only a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court, a constitutionally guaranteed right only one political appointment away from revocation.

Constitutional coup

” . . . the discretion of the judge is the first engine of tyranny.”

Edward Gibbon, “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”

Are we witnessing a non-violent coup of the United States Constitution, methodically carried out by the United States Supreme Court? Has the Court placed itself above the executive and legislative branches of government, above the people, above the Constitution itself?

This coup started in 1803 when the Court claimed the power to rule on the constitutionality of acts of Congress. Claiming this check on Congress seemed appropriate because each of the three branches of government was meant to check the others.

Football and government

The federal government could learn a lot from professional football – teams competing with each other, each team doing all it can to win, referees ensuring they follow the rules, together part of a league whose owners have the final say on the rules and how the league works.

Our league is the United States of America and the teams are our free market system, individuals and companies competing with one another, doing all they can to win. The referees are our elected officials, there to ensure the competitors follow the rules. The head referee is our Supreme Court, appointed to maintain the integrity of the rulebook when questions arise. The rulebook is the United States Constitution.

Are they asking the right questions?

The constitution . . . is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist, and shape into any form they please.”

Thomas Jefferson

Why is a Supreme Court nominee so important? According to their only constitutional requirement, justices “shall hold their Offices during good Behavior,” allowing them to serve for life and affect generations to come. And knowing a nominee to the Supreme Court usually survives the “advise and consent” of the Senate, selecting a nominee to the court is one of the most important things a president does.

The ‘ism’ elixir?

“Bad officials are elected by
good citizens who do not vote.”

George Jean Nathan
American drama critic and newspaper editor

I watched a 1948 cartoon produced by Harding College, “Make Mine Freedom,” which tells the story of Ism elixir. If you have already viewed this, my apologies. If not, let me share the tale of Ism.

The cartoon starts with a reminder of our good fortune to live in America with the freedom to work, freedom of speech, freedom to peacefully assemble, freedom to own property, protection from unlawful search or seizure, the right to a speedy and public trial, protections against cruel punishments, the right to vote and to worship God in our own way.

The Supreme Court – omnipotent and divine?

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments to decide if the Second Amendment right of the individual to “keep and bear Arms” applies to the states in addition to federal enclaves such as Washington, D.C.

Can the court please point to the section of the United States Constitution granting it the power to choose which parts of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, apply to the states, reducing the Bill of Rights to nothing more than a buffet of suggestions for the court?

It’s our Constitution

Contrary to the wishes of Congress, the Supreme Court and the lower courts, “we the people” in our capacity as jurors and state legislators have the power to nullify laws we find unconstitutional.

Did the founding fathers opine on this power? In 1790, James Wilson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and one of the original six Supreme Court justices said, “Suppose . . . a difference of sentiment takes place between the judges and the jury with regard to a point of law . . . . What must the jury do? The jury must do their duty . . . . They must decide the law as well as the fact.”

Supreme Court – Constitutional guardian or Guardian Council?

Does the  Supreme Court submit to the authority of the United States Constitution, as it should?  Or, is it complicit with Congress, functioning beyond its constitutional powers?

In 1803, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall, trying to preserve the checks and balances in the Constitution said, “To what purpose are powers limited, and to what purpose is that limitation committed to writing, if these limits may, at any time, be passed by those intended to be restrained.”  He was addressing Congress, explaining that Congress could not decide if a law it passed was constitutional, that checking power reserved for the Supreme Court.

The Consitution v. the federal government

The Declaration of Independence states, “. . . these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.”  This sentiment was reaffirmed in 1781 in the Articles of Confederation which states, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States . . . .”  

Six years later during the 1787 Constitutional Convention, delegate Luther Martin affirmed states’ rights saying, “At the separation from the British Empire, the people of America preferred the establishment of themselves into thirteen separate sovereignties, instead of incorporating themselves into one.”  

The Bill of Prvileges

The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution, was ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1791. The Constitution was ratified four years earlier in 1787.

Our Bill of Rights came into existence amid debate and deliberation. Many anti-federalists who supported it previously opposed ratification of the Constitution because that document did not provide many of the individual protections that would be guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

But the federalists, voiced by Alexander Hamilton, considered the Bill of Rights unnecessary, believing “the people surrender nothing” in the Constitution, and offering protections of specific rights would imply that any unmentioned rights were not protected.

Guns, the Constitution and Switzerland

A fact regularly ignored in much of the gun debate – the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.  In 2008, the Supreme Court revisited the constitutional meaning of the right of the individual to “keep and bear arms,” and unequivocally affirmed our constitutional right of individual gun ownership.

That should end the debate because a constitutional right is not the same as a governmental privilege; neither the legislature nor the Supreme Court can change a constitutional right.  Yet, gun control advocates continue discounting this reality with ongoing legislative assaults on our rights.

Robert Gibbs is a verb

The most entertaining moments of this presidency are watching Robert Gibbs explain the ramblings of Vice President Biden.  With a straight face, a feigned sincerity and accompanied by the laughter of the press corps Gibbs says, “I understand what he said and I’m telling you what he meant to say.”  He invented a new verb — “gibbsing,” a verb that well describes earlier rulings of the United States Supreme Court.

In 1803 with a 4-0 ruling in Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court used the question before them to expand their powers beyond what the Constitution enumerated.