Obama & Constitutional Law

A recent public opinion poll taken right after the oral arguments at the Supreme Court concerning the constitutionality of Obamacare shows a rather high favorable view of the Court. Analysts say this could be related to the pointed questioning the Obama administration’s solicitor general received by some of the justices. By most accounts, they shredded his arguments. In his defense, he was trying to defend the indefensible constitutionally.

I’ve often stated my resistance to government by opinion polls, and I remain steadfast in that position. Yet it is comforting at times to see the general public waking up to some of the travesties that have been promoted as constitutional. In this case, the Obama administration is attempting to use the Commerce Clause of the Constitution as covering for its unprecedented power grab. This is a classic example of twisting the document’s meaning into nonsense and, in the process, shredding the document itself.

Then we have the spectacle of the administration touting the president’s prowess at interpreting the Constitution, citing his time as a constitutional law professor. Let’s get one thing straight: he was never a fulltime professor, but only an adjunct brought in to teach occasionally. I have nothing against adjuncts; they are essential. In fact, I was one once. But just being an adjunct professor teaching a law class once in a while is not the supreme qualification for being an expert. Further, most of his law education was of the “living Constitution” variety, where the original wording and intent are discarded. Consequently, I’m not impressed by anyone proclaiming Obama as an authority on constitutional law. From what I’ve been able to glean of his take on the Constitution, I’d say he’s anything but an authority. He has some more lessons to learn, starting with the established maxim that the Supreme Court can rule on the constitutionality of a federal law.

May the Court, in this instance, rule wisely.

Comics Day Today

There are some days I just want to do comics. Congratulations, you’ve stumbled across one of those days. Enjoy these [in no particular thematic order]:

Unless I can replenish my comics supply, I’ll actually have to think of things to say tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Being Constitutional

The Supreme Court has made its decision on Obamacare. What, you didn’t hear about that? Well, that’s because it’s not public yet, and won’t be until June, I understand. But behind closed doors, the result is in. The justices are now busy writing their opinions; I predict we’ll have a number of those opinions offered since the Court will be split in its reasoning. Some of that reasoning will be sharp and constitutional; the rest will be shallow and political. Hopefully, constitutionalism will prevail and the entire law will be overturned, not just the individual mandate.

President Obama yesterday lectured the Court from afar by stating categorically that the attempt to set up a government-controlled healthcare system was undeniably constitutional, and that any decision to the contrary was judicial activism. He said conservatives should understand this since they are always decrying judicial activism.

Let me get this straight: declaring a law unconstitutional that took over 1/6 of the American economy and forced people to buy a product is judicial activism? No, Mr. President, that’s the proper role of the Court—reining in an extension of government power into an area where it has no authority to act.

That’s called being constitutional.

But I wouldn’t expect the president to understand that concept. He’s no James Madison.

Presidents take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not to ignore it.

Fiscal Sanity & the Rule of Law

The administration did its best to convince the Supreme Court that Obamacare is constitutional. That’s called trying to make something out of nothing. When there’s nothing in the Constitution that can reasonably be construed as support for this type of government interference, one would hope the attempt to defend it would prove impossible. Nothing is certain, though, when four liberal ideologues refuse to budge. At least that’s what I expect. Yet even liberal commentators are saying the Court may overturn this “signature” piece of legislation. We’ll have to wait until June to find out. Perhaps there’s a fantasy swirling in the mind of our president about how he wishes he could have been present at the writing of the Constitution. He could have made it a “better” instrument:

You see, only a liberal/progressive/socialist really cares about people. Plans such as the one proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan to move us in the direction of fiscal responsibility emanate from evil, uncaring hearts:

You could say it all depends on one’s perspective, but I hope most Americans would grasp the concept that a life preserver is not a weapon.

Meanwhile, we await the return of fiscal sanity and the rule of law. Will they eventually prevail?

Obamacare & the Constitution

The Obamacare hearings at the Supreme Court continue today. The focus will be on the individual mandate. The Obama lawyers will try to argue that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution gives permission to make everyone buy health insurance. If the Court goes along with that argument, it opens the door for the government to force us to buy anything it considers “good” for us: non-fat foods, Chevy Volts, non-incandescent light bulbs—oh, wait, I seem to recall that last one being foisted on us already.

One can only hope the Court will actually look at the Constitution this time rather than allow ideology to prevail, but I will be shocked if any of the four liberal justices break from their preconceived position that the text of the Constitution is outdated. It would be nice if they would pay attention to the intent of the Founders, but I fear their insights will be barred from entry:

Fortunately, the lawyers arguing against the bill will be making constitutional arguments. I pray for their success in convincing any swing votes, if they exist.

Most of the country, though, doesn’t know much about the constitutional limitations on the federal government. They just assume the government can do as it wishes. We are constitutionally illiterate, on the whole. But they will soon feel the effects of the law if it isn’t overturned:

At least public opinion polls—not normally the fount of all wisdom—reveal a rising tide against Obamacare. Even Obama has to acknowledge this. When his signature legislation had its second birthday the other day, there was no celebration; Obama himself remained mute about it. So where was he?

Ah, yes, his favorite activity.

And what are the Republicans threatening to offer as the challenger to Obamacare politically? The man who inspired Obamacare to begin with.

I can agree with that sigh.

Obamacare & the Supremes

No, my title today is not the name of a new rock band. Today marks the opening arguments on the constitutionality of Obamacare before the Supreme Court. Good news would be a decision declaring it unconstitutional. Bad news would be a decision upholding it. But the worst news of all is that it comes down to nine people who may determine this for the whole nation, regardless of the ruling.

We have resigned ourselves to the idea that when the Supreme Court speaks, mere mortals must step aside. Yet the Court itself is comprised of mere mortals, not demi-gods. Some of them don’t even have any desire to inquire into the original intent or exact wording of the Constitution. A few have even suggested we look at what other nations do as our guide.

We didn’t used to have this awe over Supreme Court decisions. We used to believe we were a government made up of three co-equal branches, each of which was charged with maintaining constitutionality. When the president takes his oath of office, he says he will protect and defend the Constitution. That document gives Congress authority to remove certain types of cases from the federal purview in the courts. To my knowledge, Congress has never used that authority as leverage against unjust Court rulings.

This is what “check-and-balance” is all about.

Back in 1857, the Supreme Court ruled on the freedom of a black slave named Dred Scott. He was from Missouri, but his master took him into Illinois and Wisconsin, where they lived for a number of years. Both areas banned slavery, so later Scott sued for his freedom, saying he shouldn’t have been held as a slave because of his residence in those places. This was seen by slaveholders as a severe threat to their “right” to their “property.” Seven of the nine justices on the Court at that time were from the South, and all sought to uphold slavery.

The Chief Justice, Roger Taney, decided to use this case to lecture the nation on his concept of the Declaration of Independence, the supremacy of the white race, and the place of blacks in American society. In denying Scott his freedom, he said the Declaration didn’t apply to blacks and that no black person, slave or free, was to be considered a citizen of the United States. Consequently, Scott had no right even to bring the lawsuit. Further, the Congress had no authority to pass any law that limited slavery in any way throughout any state or territory in the Union.

This was a rather breathtaking decision. Did the entire nation bow down before the Supremes and meekly follow the “divine word”? Hardly. The new Republican party spoke out against the ruling, declaring it null and void. It had unconstitutionally denied the rights of all black persons, many of whom were free citizens who had voted in the past. It had said the Congress had no authority to pass laws about slavery when, in fact, it could pass whatever laws it saw fit for territories. The Supreme Court, dominated by a false ideology, had been wrong.

The Supreme Court today can be just as wrong. If it rules Obamacare constitutional, it will have trashed the Constitution. But that doesn’t have to be the final word. In November, we can elect enough members of Congress and a new president dedicated to repealing and replacing that dreadful healthcare bill.

Do we have the intelligence and desire to effect this change? Balance can be restored if we choose wisely. We can once again become a nation of three co-equal branches of government.

In Their Own Secular Image

My regular readers know that I’ve been sharing some thoughts from Santorum’s 2005 book It Takes a Family. One of the chapters, “Religion and Social Capital,” could have been written in the last couple of weeks, what with the Obama administration’s attempt to coerce religious organizations into providing services that violate their principles. For instance, when talking about “mediating institutions,” and how to strengthen them, Santorum says,

The most important answer is to build up what the village elders have spent decades trying to tear down and drive underground—religious institutions and faith-based organizations. The Democrats today have become the party espousing European-style secularism. They have gone to great lengths to create government bureaucracies to displace  the work that religious groups have done ever since the days of the Pilgrims, and to marginalize and privatize faith and its moral demands altogether. Their approach to government regulation and programming has worked in countless ways to sideline people of faith.

Why is this, one might ask? Why do they pull out all stops to neuter the effects of religion, Christianity in particular? I think Santorum is correct when he notes,

The village elders see churches as serious challengers to their “expert” authority and to their profoundly secularist worldview. For liberals, faith-based organizations are exactly the wrong sort of intermediate institution building the wrong sort of social capital. Consequently, even when the village elders try to incorporate social capital into their own agendas, the resulting “image” of American society looks like some bizarre parallel universe: America the secular.

If anyone believes the Obamacare “mandates” will stop with the latest attempts, or will not spread beyond the contraception issue, Santorum warns of what is still to come [and remember, this was written in 2005]:

Why did the village elders try, among many other things, to require Catholic hospitals to counsel for and provide abortions, require orthodox religious universities to fund gay and lesbian groups on campus, require religious organizations to provide spousal benefits to all unmarried couples, and bar even the Boy Scouts from public schools and public funds.?

Why would such “tolerant” people as the village elders try so intolerantly to force their agenda on religious institutions? The answer is clear. Religious institutions stand between them and the individuals they seek to fashion in their own image.

That’s the true danger: what Santorum calls the “village elders,” who can also be called liberals or progressives, want to remake America in their image. The only thing that stands between them and the realization of their dream is genuine Christian faith. That’s why, in their view, it must be marginalized, or even eliminated.

Do we truly understand this threat? If so, why would anyone who claims to be a Christian help them achieve their agenda? We need to recognize the danger. We need renewed minds.