Posts Tagged ‘United States Constitution’

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?

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.

Judicial ‘good Behavior’

We hold Supreme Court Justices in high regard, but should we? The Constitution says they “shall hold their Office during good Behavior?” Well, let’s look at their behavior.

The process of confirming a justice leaves little doubt; they are political appointees who serve for life. Although they occasionally surprise their advocates, they usually vote as expected. From the time of the very first Supreme Court appointments, judicial restraint and respect for the Constitution has progressively given way to judicial legislation.

Three sitting judges, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor, have made public statements suggesting they believe the Constitution is theirs to evolve; to decide based on their personal values, no need to amend it.

A state religion?

Understanding the founding fathers’ fears of government offers insight into the meaning of their words in the United States Constitution. Many of their demanded freedoms were born from the British trail of William Penn who challenged the sovereignty of the Church of England, the state religion. On its steps, he dared to gather and preach a different belief, a capital offense.

Following a short trial, the judge instructed the jurors in the law, telling them to “render the proper verdict.” But, a lone juror named Edward Bushell claimed the law was wrong and voted not guilty, with repeated deliberations bringing fellow jurors to his point of view. The infuriated judge put the jurors in jail and demanded they do as the bench instructed.

I’m entitled

“Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions – it only guarantees equality of opportunity.”

Irving Kristol, 1920-2009

American columnist

Undercover Boss is a television reality show in which a company CEO goes undercover in his or her own company, pretending to be applying for a job. On a recent episode, the CEO of Mack Trucks was learning how to put bumpers on the trucks, voicing concern that he was not going to get the job. His trainer offered a fascinating response, “I will give you a good opportunity.” What a wonderful definition of the American promise – “a good opportunity.”

“Other people’s money”

“Socialist governments do traditionally make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.”

Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, 1979 – 1990

She added, “. . . They’re now trying to control everything, . . . reducing the choice available to ordinary people.” Does this sound like our government since the 1940s when President Roosevelt’s Supreme Court gave Congress the unconstitutional power to spend unlimited amounts of “other people’s money” for the “general Welfare?”

Reclaiming the Constitution – Part V

In 1804, the United States Supreme Court claimed absolute control over the Constitution, declaring only it could decide the Constitution’s meaning and neither the president nor Congress could overrule it. More than 100 years later, through sheer intimidation, President Franklin Roosevelt got the Supreme Court to use this control to give Congress powers not in the Constitution.

In 1937, the court changed the meaning of the “general Welfare” clause, allowing Congress to do anything it deemed needed for the “general Welfare.” In 1942, ignoring the meaning and intent of the commerce clause, the Supreme Court ruled that anything an individual or company produces or purchases, even if only sold intrastate or if only for personal use, can be regulated by the federal government because it impacts “commerce among the several states.”

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.

Where are you from?

The other day a friend and I were talking about immigration. He immigrated to the United States, is an American citizen but never refers to himself as a something-American, a hyphenated-American; he is just an American. My great-grandfather emigrated from Prussia in 1852. And like my friend, I don’t consider myself a Prussian-American; I am just an American.

My friend says people occasionally ask him where he is from, the question suggesting to him that they think he is a hyphenated-American with divided loyalties. Perhaps his mild accent or foreign sounding name prompts the question. But might I be asked where I am from if my last name were Gerbeling or if I had a German accent?

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.

Impenetrable borders

Is border security a priority for the government? The president proposes adding $500 million to the Border Patrol budget, which seems significant until you remember he spent over $3 billion on the “cash for clunkers” program. Further, his solution for the 12 to 20 million illegal aliens already here is to create a way for them to become U.S. citizens. But won’t that just increase future illegal entry into our country rather than eliminate it?

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.

Fundamental rights of Americans

The government, determined it knows what is best for us, continues expanding its role beyond its constitutional authority. It has little need for the Constitution because over 60 years ago the Supreme Court ruled that the founding fathers erred and actually meant for the general welfare clause of the Constitution to be a specific enumerated power of Congress, in essence granting Congress unlimited power.

Do you think the founding fathers really intended for the government to do anything it deems needed for the general welfare of the country and to tax us whatever needed to pay for it?