Thursday, April 7, 2011

Living in post-Constitutional America

In light of yesterday's blog on Connick v Thompson, I thought I would link a few previously-made points together in a single post to illustrate how far from 'a free society' we have wandered since the Constitution's keel was laid.

We have these facts in evidence:

  1. The avowed purpose of the writers of the Constitution (hereafter 'C~') was (paraphrased) 'to bind the government in chains'.  They wanted a government which could do the tasks it was assigned and unable to do anything else.
  2. As an addendum to this, the (so-called) Bill of Rights adds a wholebuncha 'thou shalt not's starting off with the First Amendment's 'Congress shall make no law...'.
  3. All this happened because the axiom of the American system, the Declaration of Independence, informs us that 'to protect these rights, governments are instituted among men' and furthermore 'all men are created equal'.

Comes now the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) which seems to understand none of this.  At least, there is no substantial evidence that they do.

In case after case, they agree, sometimes in overwhelming majority, that, yes, the government may feel you up at the airport without articulable probable cause merely because by your presence there you have waived your right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure; that, yes, the government may listen to your cell phone's emanations because you really can't have any expectation of privacy when speaking aloud in a public place, even from someone who can throw your ass in jail based on what they deliberately overhear; that, yes, the government may infringe your right to keep and bear arms when the government thinks it's a reallyreallyreally good idea to do so; that, yes, the government may take your house and give it to someone else who will pay higher taxes than you; and several dozen other, more egregious things.

Why might SCOTUS have such bizarre opinions, opinions which wind up being the law of the land, every bit as effective as the C~ they purport to implement?  They might have these opinions because government always wants to get bigger and more powerful.  There never has been one that didn't, so it's fair to suggest ours is not unique.  They might have these opinions because SCOTUS is an arm of the government and it could be said 'works for the government'.  They might have these opinions because each and every one of them came up through the ranks of government attorneys, having been DAs or AGs or assistants to them.  They are the government.

Because of this architectural need of governments to grow larger, there is an adversary relationship between the people and the government.  The C~ was supposed to block the government's ability to do bad things by, for instance, limiting Congress' powers to seventeen specific areas.  As a further block, the Bill of Rights specifically mentions several areas which the government is forbidden to enter.  Yet we have this odd situation: SCOTUS decrees that 'no right is absolute', that government may restrict rights when there is a 'compelling public need'.  Suddenly, government has become the arbiter of which rights we have and how far we may exercise them.  Those rights we received from God or nature because we are sentient beings have now been redefined as originating from government and thus modifiable by government.

Of those seventeen specific areas in which Congress may operate, one, the 'regulation of interstate commerce', has morphed into something bizarre.  Under its current interpretation, Congress appears able to do anything because everything affects I/C in one way or another.  We thus have a list of tasks for Congress to handle consisting of sixteen specific areas plus one other which is 'and anything else'.

The thirteenth amendment outlawed slavery — kinda.  "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States..." except that in time of war the government may force you to give up several years of your life, and possibly the entirety of that life, by drafting you into the military and sending you into combat.  The thirteenth amendment is the first amendment which applies not to the government, but to you, the citizen.  You may not have a slave, but your government may.

People ask why I believe we are living in 'post-Constitutional America'.  The answer is that the C~ we have now does nothing it is supposed to do and everything it isn't supposed to do.  We have become a police state and almost everyone thinks that's the way it is supposed to be: the land of the fee and the home of the slave.

We are where we are because of a concerted bi-partisan effort on the part of Republicans and Democrats to put us there.  If you think we shouldn't be here, if you think we should be somewhere else, there is but one solution:

Stop voting for Republicans and Democrats.  Get all your friends, relatives, and acquaintances to understand what Barry Goldwater used to say: "A government big enough to give you everything you want must also be big enough to take away everything you've got."

If you vote for Republicans or Democrats you are voting for ever-bigger government and you are part of the problem.  Be part of the solution.

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