The myth is finished. The Constitutional order was shredded long ago by a Congress that does not care about upholding it; an executive branch interested only in growing federal power; and a Supreme Court that sees itself as a super-Congress, unanswerable to the Constitution.
But today, in one of the most egregious acts of judicial revisionism in American history, Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court pulled back the curtain for the American people. Nobody will protect the Constitution but the citizens of the United States.
It’s a sobering realization. For too long, Americans have trusted their politicians implicitly to do the “legal” thing – after all, a huge percentage of Congresspeople are lawyers. Americans figured that their representatives would find a way to balance the Constitution and their own desire for re-election. And Congresspeople found a way to abdicate responsibility: they passed whatever bills they felt like passing, whatever bills forwarded their political ambition, and then tossed them to the Executive Branch. If there was a violation of the Constitution, they implicitly said, that’s not our problem – blame the president and the Supreme Court. It’s no wonder that the former chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), justified Obamacare under the non-existent “good and welfare clause”; it’s no wonder that Nancy Pelosi asked if a reporter was “kidding” when he asked her about the Constitutional authority for Obamacare. These people simply do not give a damn about the Constitution. They care only about their political power.
And what of the presidency? Just as with Congress, chief executive after chief executive has solemnly sworn to uphold the Constitution, then immediately ignored it. When President Bush signed campaign finance reform into law despite its obvious violation of First Amendment freedoms, he stated, “Certain provisions present serious constitutional concerns … I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions as appropriate under the law.” In other words, sure it isn’t constitutional – but since when is that my job?
The backstop that would protect American freedoms, of course, was supposed to be the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review. It’s been obvious for nearly a century that the Supreme Court has no interest in upholding the Constitution; its members are far more concerned with acting as a sort of super-political body, telling Americans what they ought to think and how they ought to think it. Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion today is only the latest and greatest example of the Court deciding that it wanted a particular result, Constitution be damned; Roberts actually rewrote Obamacare today, in contravention of Congress and President Obama, and called the individual mandate a tax, thereby rendering it Constitutional. (For the record, even under the “tax clause” of the Constitution this should not be Constitutional. The government is only allowed to tax for enumerated reasons, despite liberal belief that taxing for the “general welfare” includes everything from health care to free pony rides for poor kids.)
In any case, the American people have been lied to. Our politicians have promised to uphold the Constitutional structure that guarantees our freedoms, and they’ve ignored that promise. Our presidents have done the same. And the Supreme Court has, over the past eighty-odd years, thrown the Constitution out the window in favor of barely-mitigated liberalism. If we didn’t learn that from Roe v. Wade, in which the Court magically produced a right to abortion via emanations and penumbras, we should certainly have learned it today.
And we have lied to ourselves. This was all in plain sight. But we preferred not to think about it. We preferred to think we could have our cake and eat it too – vote ourselves benefits, spend like drunken sailors, empower our politicians to bring home the pork and regulate our lives. At the same time, we deceived ourselves that we cared about the Constitution – at least those guys in Washington, D.C. swore oaths to uphold it!
Those oaths were lies.
The time for playing the innocents is over. The blinders are off. We cannot rely on our elected and appointed officials to protect us from our own irresponsibility. We have been abandoned by our elected officials, by our Supreme Court, by our presidents. And we were complicit in that abandonment, since, after all, we voted for them.
But, as James Madison, the father of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist No. 46, “the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone.” Government cannot grow unchecked without their consent; the Constitution cannot be violated without their consent.
We must show our politicians, our presidents, our judges, our regulators – our erstwhile masters – that they do not have our consent. And we have the greatest weapon of all at our disposal: the ballot box.
In Election 2012, the campaign is about more than repealing Obamacare. It is about restoring the American people to their original roles, as steadfast and tireless guardians of their own liberty. Mitt Romney is an imperfect vessel for the freedom and liberty message. No matter. He is responsible to us, not the other way around. We must elect him, and we must hold him accountable. The same goes for our other politicians. They work for us. Now let them earn their pay.
The Constitution lives and dies with us. It always has. And we have an obligation to defend and protect it.