By Art Wilson
The US Constitution was put on trial this week in a public way such as I have never seen before. I would say that it has been under attack for quite some time, specifically beginning in 1962, but never before in such a public manner. The week began with the story of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s January 30th interview in Egypt regarding the drafting of an Egyptian constitution. The Supreme Court Judge made a couple of statements that, too many Americans that pay attention to what is going on in our government found shocking. Courtesy of MEMRI TV:
“I can’t speak about what the Egyptian experience should be, because I’m operating under a rather old constitution. The United States, in comparison to Egypt, is a very new nation, and yet we have the oldest written constitution still in force in the world.”
“You should certainly be aided by all the constitution-writing that has gone on since the end of World War II. I would not look to the US constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary… It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recent than the US constitution – Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It dates from 1982. You would almost certainly look at the European Convention on Human Rights. Yes, why not take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world?”
Wait. What? Let’s go back over one of the two Oaths of Office she had to take prior to taking the bench in 1993.
The Constitutional Oath:
“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
How does one reconcile the Oath of Office that she took and the statements that were made in Egypt? It seems quite apparent that for nearly twenty years we’ve had a Supreme Court Justice sitting on the bench that has a complete disdain for the rather old document the she wouldn’t even look at today if she could go back and do it all over again.
And then there was the New York Times piece that came out February 6, 2012 by Adam Liptak; “‘We The People’ Loses Appeal With People Around the World”. The piece references a study to be published in June in The New York University Law Review regarding the “ free-fall of constitutional similarity to the United States”. The study notes that the US Constitution was the most widely recognized and emulated documents for new governments up until the 1980 and 1990s. The writer then goes on to state the possible reasons why he feels this is the case:
“The United States Constitution is terse and old, and it guarantees relatively few rights. The commitment of some members of the Supreme Court to interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning in the 18th century may send the signal that it is of little current use to, say, a new African nation. And the Constitution’s waning influence may be part of a general decline in American power and prestige.”
He mentions an interview where Professor Law, one of the authors of the study, where he identifies a central reason for the trend: “The availability of newer, sexier and more powerful operating systems in the constitutional marketplace. Nobody wants to copy Windows 3.1.”
Wow! Really? The Constitutional Amendment process isn’t good enough anymore? We just need an “upgrade”? Our Constitution just isn’t “sexy” enough anymore? This sounds eerily similar to the statements made by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria last June that the Constitution is “outdated” and should be “debated and fixed” and in an interview with Charlie Rose that “ America is parochial and there are countries around the world that do things better than we do.”. Then again, what can we expect from a man that lauded Finland for trying to come up with a constitution via Twitter?
We should by now know several examples of what many members of Congress feel about the Constitution. Maxine Waters congressional slip that she was all about socializing companies. Nancy Pelosi in 2009 degrading a CNS reporter when asked if she thought the health care was Constitutional. If they’re not outright expressing their disdain for the Constitution, their ability to ignore it in their actions pretty much sums it up.
While attacks on the Constitution are not new, they really came to light during the 2008 presidential campaign thanks to our current President. Appearing on a WBEZ-FM radio show, January 18, 2001, to discuss “The Courts and Civil Rights”, Obama laments the fact that
“The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society” and “It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution…”
and finally the highly played,
“…the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.”. In September of that same year on the same radio show, this one titled “Slavery and the Constitution”, Obama stated about the Constitution, “But I think it is an imperfect document, and I think it is a document that reflects some deep flaws in American culture, the Colonial culture nascent at that time.” and “I think we can say that the Constitution reflected an enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day, and that the Framers had that same blind spot.”
Before we get to far down the “that was then and this is now” path, it’s not too difficult to Google the numerous times the President has bemoaned the fact that he felt constrained by the Constitution and the way our government works. I began noticing it as a constant theme beginning with the La Raza speech last July. And he’s carried this theme in many of his speeches since them included last months’ Presidential Address. (Note: This will be addressed in a future posting.)
So now we’re back to the original question. Who’s defending the Constitution? We have officials in all three branches of government, professors in our universities, the media and apparently the rest of the world that show contempt for the bedrock of the greatest nation in history. If our elected officials in government will not defend the Constitution who will? I believe the answer to that question lies in the preamble:
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
In the actual Constitution, “We the People” was highlighted and written larger than any of the other words in the document. We are the people that will have to defend our Constitution if we wish for it to remain in place. That means studying the Constitution and understanding it. Only in doing this can we teach our families and friends and hopefully spark a grass roots interest in our founding documents. It is our responsibility to work from the bottom up since it has become quite evident that we can no longer depend on our leaders to defend the Constitution. But then, we should have been involved all along.
Note: This is the first part of a multi-part series regarding the attacks and defense of the constitution. If you would like to learn more about the Constitution, I’d like to recommend the following site: http://illinoisconservative.com/ . At this site, you’ll find the Constitution in both the standard format and the reference format.