The Constitution is not a Plaything

by walterm on April 2, 2017

I have written quite a bit about how liberal progressives view the Constitution as a living, breathing document. Indeed, the Constitution is a living, breathing document, but not in the way liberals want it to live and breathe. To wit, recently U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (regrettably, my senator from California), criticized U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch as being an “originalist” who would interpret the Constitution as it was understood in 1789. This is a highly odd and false interpretation of how an originalist judge would rule. The Constitution lives and breathes through the amendment process, and it is not the same document as it was in its original form back in 1789. So Feinstein’s charge that Gorsuch, as a Supreme Court judge, would take us back to the days of segregation, bans on interracial marriage, and discrimination against LGBT Americans is just as laughable as it is moronic for a senior U.S. senator to make such a ridiculous statement. The only thing she demonstrated in making such hyperbolic comments was to pander to ethnic minorities and the LGBT lobby. I can think of no other useful purpose for her comments, and her opposition to Gorsuch exhibited no reasonable argument against his confirmation, particularly since she falsely characterized how he would rule as a Supreme Court judge.

The problem with senator Feinstein and those of her ilk are that they use the Constitution as a plaything to be used to their own bidding. They see it as living and breathing based on how they or a particular judge should interpret it, where the interpretation itself is evolving over time. So the Constitution should not be interpreted as originally intended, or as amended, but should be interpreted based on the current social milieu in which Democrats find themselves. Clearly, this would benefit Democrats as they see the world at any given point in time, and would disadvantage others since without a clear set of principles how could anyone know what is going on in the minds of Democrats? Republicans believe the Constitution should be interpreted based on the ideas as originally intended and amended, which provides a neutral standard by which people may be judged, regardless of the political leanings of the judge. The Constitution is not just for Democrats, but is for all Americans. So its interpretation should not evolve except through Constitutional amendments, as justice is supposed to be blind and irrespective of the ideology of a judge at any level.

We are also hearing more recently that liberals are suddenly in love with the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution regarding states’ rights, now that we have a Republican president, which reads as follows:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

When Barack Obama was president, liberals had absolutely no issues with the President exercising authority over state matters. A prime example, among others, is the bathroom mandate by the Obama administration that directed public schools, colleges, and universities to make accommodations for transgender students to access facilities consistent with their chosen, and not biological, gender identity. Well this is a local and state matter, not a matter for the federal government. It has since been overturned by current president Donald Trump through executive order, who correctly noted that this is not a federal matter. Liberals, of course, are up in arms. Yet these same liberals at the state level are going to the mat to prevent Trump from exercising a power that is delegated to the federal government, which is immigration policy. Various states are moving forward with sanctuary city policies that seek to block any cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, and have successfully sued to block Trump’s temporary travel ban from countries with a high propensity to export terrorists. These are two cases where there is clear federal constitutional authority. Thus, liberals are terribly confused.

My point here is that liberals don’t seem to care that the U.S. Constitution is quite perspicuous in terms of what are federal versus what are state matters. The federal government is now involved in so many things that it was not designed to do, and can’t do well with any degree of efficiency or effectiveness. The Constitution was meant to limit the federal government, but it also clearly delineates what are the legitimate functions of the federal government. As a conservative, I want a constitution that works for all of the people, not for some. Thus an originalist interpretation by any judge of any ideological stripe ensures us that all people are created equally, and not based on the ideology of the judge, whatever that ideology might be. The purpose of a judge is to interpret the law, and to, as much as human possible, dismiss any personal feelings or predispositions in doing so. Societies do change and evolve, but there are ideas that transcend the particular zeitgeist of any given time, subject to the whims of human existence. And if our society wishes to change how the Constitution is interpreted, we can deliberatively go through the process of amending it, instead of actively subverting it. Liberals should know that if they are successful in interpreting the Constitution any way they wish, then conservatives can do the same. It’s a lose-lose game that liberals should stop playing. The Constitution is not a toy to be played with.


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