Imagine the Supreme Court was wiped out in an asteroid strike, or maybe ate some really bad clams. Whatever. With the court temporarily out of the picture, could Congress and the White House ignore the Constitution, locking up Tea Partiers or ACLU members?
"I have been fascinated by [Delaware Senate candidate] Christine O'Donnell's constitutional worldview," Slate magazine's Dahlia Lithwick confessed. O'Donnell had said, "When I go to Washington, DC, the litmus test by which I cast my vote for every piece of legislation that comes across my desk will be whether or not it is constitutional."
To which Lithwick, a widely cited expert on the Supreme Court, responded, "How weird is that, I thought. Isn't it a court's job to determine whether or not something is, in fact, constitutional? And isn't that sort of provided for in, well, the Constitution?"
Newsweek's Ben Adler was aghast at the clause in the GOP's Pledge to America that Republicans will provide a "citation of constitutional authority" for every proposed law. "We have a mechanism for assessing the constitutionality of legislation, which is the independent judiciary," Adler wrote. "An extraconstitutional attempt to limit the powers of Congress is dangerous even as a mere suggestion, and it constitutes an encroachment on the judiciary." And a progressive blogger writes in U.S. News & World Report that such talk of requiring constitutionality is "just plain wacky."
Does anyone, anywhere, think legislators should vote for legislation they think is unconstitutional? Should presidents sign such legislation into law?
According to this creepy logic, there's no reason for congressmen to even consider the supreme law of the land. Re-impose slavery? Sure! Let's see if we can catch the Supreme Court asleep at the switch. Nationalize the TV stations? It ain't unconstitutional until the Supreme Court says so!
Of course, reasonable people understand how absurd all of this is.
Too many politicians -- in both parties -- have abdicated their most solemn duty: to support and defend the US Constitution. George W. Bush signed campaign finance reform even though he thought much of it was unconstitutional. Nancy Pelosi thinks the Constitution has as much relevance as a pet rock. Asked if the health-care bill was constitutional, her eyes grew perceptibly wider as she incredulously asked, "Are you serious?"
The real issue is quite simple. If more politicians were faithful to the Constitution, the government would be restrained. And restraining government is "weird," "wacky" and "dangerous" to so many liberals today.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Outsourcing Their Oath