Skip to comments.Americans Are Worrying About the Constitution Again
Posted on 04/04/2012 11:36:19 AM PDT by Mikey_1962
"I don't worry about the Constitution," said Rep. Phil Hare, Democrat of Illinois, at a town hall meeting where voters questioned his support of the legislation that became Obamacare. You can find the clip on youtube.com, where it has 462,084 hits.
That was before the 2010 election, in which Hare, running for a third term in a district designed by Democrats to elect a Democrat, was defeated 53 to 43 percent by Bobby Schilling, proprietor of a pizza parlor in East Moline.
A lot of politicians are worrying about the Constitution these days. Liberal commentators were shocked this past week when in three days of oral argument in the lawsuits challenging Obamacare, five Supreme Court justices -- a majority -- asked questions strongly suggesting they think the legislation is unconstitutional.
And so the Constitution -- and the limits it places on Congress' powers -- is once again part of our politics. And will continue to be, whichever way the Court rules.
For 70 years, since the court in 1942 said the government could limit the amount of wheat farmer Roscoe Filburn could grow on his own land to feed his own animals, it has been generally assumed that the federal government's power to regulate the economy had no limits.
That assumption survived in liberal precincts even though the court in 1995 overturned a law banning guns in schools and in 2000 ruled unconstitutional parts of the Violence Against Women Act.
But the arguments, developed by Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett and others, that it is beyond the powers conferred by the Constitution for Congress to mandate the purchase of a commercial product -- health insurance in Obamacare -- were certainly taken seriously by a majority of Supreme Court justices last week.
And the government's lawyers were unable to answer the questions of both liberal and conservative justices: If Congress can do this, what can't it do?
That question is likely to linger even if the court upholds Obamcare.
For the justices are not the only federal officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution. So do the president and vice president, Cabinet members and other appointees, and every member of Congress. Phil Hare may not have been worried about the Constitution, but his constituents evidently thought he should be.
That means that every federal official has an obligation to act in line with the Constitution as he or she understands it. And that doesn't necessarily mean obeying Supreme Court decisions.
Many constitutional issues never come before the Supreme Court, which only rules on lawsuits. The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel issues rulings based on the Constitution, which are generally regarded as binding precedents by administrations of different parties, even though cases never go to court.
Presidents of different parties regularly issue signing statements, saying that they will not carry out provisions of laws they sign that they regard as unconstitutional. Barack Obama decried signing statements when he was campaigning, but as president he has issued them himself.
Members of Congress may reasonably regard themselves as bound to vote against measures they conscientiously believe unconstitutional. Barry Goldwater did this when he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even though he had integrated his own business many years before, on constitutional grounds.
Goldwater's constitutional argument, predictably, wasn't accepted by the Supreme Court. And his vote gave the Republican Party an unfair reputation for being anti-civil rights. But I think he was entitled to think his oath required him to vote that way.
Clearly the two parties are divided on the constitutionality of the Obamacare mandate. Polls have shown large majorities of voters think the provision is unconstitutional, though one can wonder whether many have given the matter much thought.
But they're certainly giving it more thought after this week and will likely give it more when the decision comes down.
Voters can reasonably ask candidates for Congress their views on this and other constitutional issues and call on them to vote against measures they consider beyond Congress' constitutional powers.
If the Court overturns Obamacare, Obama may be tempted to attack the court. He should beware. In 1937, Franklin Roosevelt, a few months after landslide re-election, proposed to pack the Supreme Court with new appointees.
Gallup polls showed majorities opposed, and in the next election, proponents of FDR's New Deal lost their congressional majorities. Lesson: Most American voters worry about the Constitution.
They never do.
A couple years ago, I was golfing in Rock Island (next to Moline) with my BIL and we played thru a couple somewhere on the back 9 (they were really slooooow...IIRC, they acted like we were peons; who were we to ask to play thru).
My BIL told me that was his congressman, a real jerk (my BIL’s description), and his wife. Looking at the video, I’m thinking this is the guy. Maybe not...it’s been 2 years after all, but the features are somewhat similar, though he shows less weight in the video than he did then.
In any event, nice to see he lost his election bid.
“”I don’t worry about the Constitution,” said Rep. Phil Hare, Democrat of Illinois.
They never do.”
For the record I worry about my liberty more than a federal constitution that was mortally wounded & crippled 150 years ago. To expect the prisoners to guard their own prison is madness.
Yet that is precisely what we are told theses Federal employees whether they work for Obama, wear black-robes, or vote in congress only the only ones capable of doing.
I guess nobody bothered to question their Federal inclination, nor the fact that State legislators too take the same oath with the same responsibly yet their voices & separate inclinations are ignored & supplanted. There is no potability of balance under a system where one side dictates the rules both play by.
By all means let the left rail against the Federal court, let us join & direct their ill-rational anger towards the inevitable Federal bias of the Federal Employees in black robes. When they claim government is crippled let us agree that our States are crippled by Federal mandates.
Then let us remind them that if government is the answer to all their problems how then do they ever disagree with that government?
“Bushbots hated the Constitution. I am so sick of GOP hypocrisy. The Constitution died with the New Deal. Now, it’s a prop for grandstanding political hacks. It’s meaningless. Neither side would ever dream of obeying it.”
I would agree that the Federal Constitution was dead as of “the New Deal”, I would also even venture to admit that Bush and other republicans took advantage of the Federal bias of the Federal Employees in black robes as well.
But I would advice using the faction of each side in an effort to motivate corrective action rather than simply condemning hypocracy. In our situation & time today we are presented with yet anther rare operunity to uses the right, and open the eyes of the left.
Men are keen to listen to alternative strategy when they are on the losing side. As much as the goals of the left are inherently evil, we must endeavor to uses them in this time. To redirect their attention towards federalism and against Washington.
As much as Republicans are not completely right we must endeavor to drive them in a likewise direction for their long term goals.
Just give a polite wave goodbye to these people. They’ll appreciate your kindness. (not)
Wickard v. Filburn needs to go.