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The Libertarian ^ | October 20, 2002 | Vin Suprynowicz

Posted on 10/27/2002 9:28:03 PM PST by missileboy


What is the final safeguard of Americans' rights and freedoms?

The Founders carefully divided our government into discrete levels and branches, counting on the natural jealousy of those entrusted with one set of powers to act as a check on the rest — states using the 10th Amendment and their power to name senators to resist usurpations by Washington; Congress refusing to allocate funds for presidents overreaching their delegated powers, etc.

That has largely failed. Instead of jealously guarding their prerogatives, the states now run to Washington with their hands out for a share of the tax loot, while federal bureaucrats raid California marijuana plantations in blatant violation of the will of the voters, and of the ninth and tenth amendments.

Not to mention our once-proud U.S. Congress, deciding last week to forego the heavy lifting of actually debating and voting on a Declaration of War against Iraq, instead in effect telling President Bush "You figure it out; we're busy."

No, the "checks and balances" turn out to have been little more than a stopgap.

Instead, the final guarantor of our liberties is, in fact, a population taught from childhood that ours is a government of sharply limited powers — limited to those specifically listed in writing — established to protect the almost limitless rights and freedoms of the people.

In guarantee of which, each public officeholder is then required to swear a sacred oath to "protect and defend the Constitution." So how on earth could our liberties ever be endangered, so long as lawmakers understand they're bound by oath before God, by conscience and morality, not to enact or enforce any law not authorized by the Constitution, even if it's favored by the populace, 96-to-4?

How could any bad law ever be enforced if policeman, prosecutor, and judge each says in turn, "Wait a minute, I swore an oath not to enforce every law, but rather to protect and defend a Constitution which exists specifically to limit the types of laws that can be passed"?

But increasingly, we find ourselves surrounded by two generations of fellow Americans taught by their government schoolmarms that the government can do anything it wishes, so long as it's presented as being for "the general welfare."

This is absurd. If that were the case, the Constitution need contain only 25 words "The central government may do anything which the majority of both houses decide is in the interest of 'the general welfare'; have a nice day."

Instead, the document drones on for pages, stipulating that Congress has only those powers specifically delegated in Article I Section 8 — to fund not just any roads, but solely "post roads"; to own, occupy and administer not 87 percent of the state of Nevada, but only those lands "purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings" — while offering not a word of authorization for the federals to regulate or subsidize agriculture, drugs, education, energy, firearms (except to issue free automatic rifles to all us militiamen — take a look, it's in there), fish, forests, labor relations, medical practice, small business, space stations ... let alone the invasion and subjugation of the state of Georgia.

Whereupon, beyond that, our state constitutions and now the 14th amendment place additional sharp limits on the areas where state government can meddle in our lives.

Yet as local office-seekers come trooping through our offices every two years, angling for endorsements, do any of them take their upcoming oaths of office seriously enough to vow they will enforce no unconstitutional enactment?

Just the opposite. Candidates for attorney general, district attorney, and sheriff are particularly assertive in insisting they will enforce every statute and ordinance enacted, blithely assuming "some higher court somewhere" will serve as their conscience, telling them later on if something they've been enforcing turns out to violate the clear language of the Constitution.

Asked why he would enforce a state law against anonymous political leafletting even though that law clearly violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech, for instance (heck, the "Federalist Papers" were originally published as anonymous leaflets), Republican attorney general candidate Brian Sandoval came into our offices at 930 a.m. Thursday, July 25 and explained he would enforce any enactment of the Legislature, no matter how obviously unconstitutional, since "I don't think the attorney general has discretion to not defend an unconstitutional law."

"Come on, " I demanded, "you're saying that if the Legislature passed a law requiring all Jews to wear yellow stars of David sewn on the outside of their clothing, you'd enforce it?"

"It's my job to enforce it," Mr. Sandoval replied.

(To be grammatical, I suppose he should have said, "It would be my job to enforce it." But I've written down precisely what he said.)

Some of the witnesses, including editor of the newspaper Thomas Mitchell and managing editor Charles Zobell, turned their heads and looked at each other, probably expecting an immediate retraction or "clarification" of what Mr. Sandoval had just said. (I wrote in my own notebook, directly under the words of his answer, "Well, that's clear.") But none was forthcoming.

And candidate Sandoval didn't say this in some off-hand barroom conversation after a few beers. Brian Sandoval said it while decked out in a suit and tie at 9:45 on a weekday morning in a formal endorsement interview in front of multiple witnesses, busily taking notes.

Two months later, as this biennial season of endorsement interviews was winding to a close, Kevin Child, a Bonanza High School graduate and real estate salesman running as a Republican for the 8th District Assembly seat, came into the newspaper's offices for a similar endorsement interview. Mr. Child said he's personally going to vote "Yes" on Question Two, to place a ban on gay marriage in the state Constitution, "because I'm a Christian ... even though I don't think it's something the government should be involved in."

This struck me and fellow interviewer Steve Sebelius as curious. If Mr. Child doesn't think the government should be involved in the matter, why would he vote to make permanent in the Constitution just such a government prohibition?

"Well, it's on the ballot, so it's our right to vote for it," Mr. Child explained, puzzling us still more. No matter by what mechanism it comes before them, once any measure comes up for a vote, the voters have a right to OK it, and the Legislature must then obey the will of the voters, even if individual legislators don't believe this is an area in which government should be meddling, Mr. Child explained again.

Again, I found myself driven to ask, "Come on. What if a majority of voters OK'd a law that required all Jews to wear yellow Stars of David sewn on the outside of their clothing? You're not saying the Legislature would obey the will of the majority in a case like that — you'd approve such a statute, and then the people would have to obey it?"

"If it's the law it's the law," Mr. Child replied. "Whoever made these laws, if they're passed you have to abide by them."

Both these men said these things while sober and in the light of day, before witnesses who were taking notes, and to date have made no attempt to withdraw or amend them.

Are the gentlemen anti-Semites, who really want racial minorities to be "marked" for later round-up and removal, as practiced under Germany's Third Reich? I hope not. I hope they merely wanted to demonstrate consistency in defending an initial wrong premise — that a nation once proud of our tradition of breaking bad laws by throwing the tea in Boston harbor, or acquitting John Peter Zenger of libel, or by defying the Fugitive Slave Act, is now a land of dutiful little drones, enforcing and obeying any edict of the central state, showing our photo IDs and submitting to humiliating airport strip searches without ever raising our heads from our yokes far enough to ask, "Did we grant them this power in our Constitution?"

It's also worth noting that, while their statements are markedly stupider, Messrs. Sandoval and Child are hardly alone in embracing the underlying premise; few of the candidates we interview any longer harbor a true understanding of a "government of limited powers."

Seek among them for anyone who will say, "I can't enforce the gun laws. I'll be swearing to protect the Constitution, which allows no 'infringement' of the right to bear arms, whatsoever," or "War on Drugs? I've searched in vain for any authorization to ban or regulate the trade in drugs in either the state or the federal constitution. They had to pass a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol back in 1919, but they've never passed one to authorize the War on Drugs. Nope; I'll be setting all those fellows free." You will find none.

In the end, what's most disturbing here is not the pair of individual answers, but the fact that these two dangerous dimwits are only the tip of an iceberg of ignorance — ignorance of our own founding principles — on which our ship of state is now bearing down at full speed.

Nowadays, I'm considered a "dangerous radical" because I insist I can't find in my copy of the 2nd or 14th amendments any language that says "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, except that any number of 'reasonable restrictions' can be enacted to make the soccer moms feel safe by preventing anyone from walking down the street with a bazooka."

Well, radical I am and mean to be — since "radical," from the Latin stem for "root," merely means we get to the heart of the matter.

But who is the more dangerous radical — those who would use their jealously protected arms to defend to the death the right of minorities to refuse to sew yellow Stars of David or pink triangles on their clothing?

Or does the real danger to our liberties come from folks like Brian Sandoval and Kevin Child, cheerfully "mainstream" dolts who assert they would happily enforce such laws, rounding up delinquent members of racial, religious, political, or lifestyle minorities in trucks and delivering them to the one-way box cars at the railroad yards if so ordered by someone "in authority," since "If it's the law it's the law. Whoever made these laws, if they're passed you have to abide by them"?

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government
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To: Libloather
All Liberteens have a problem with the law. Deal with it...

Traumatic toilet training.

41 posted on 10/27/2002 10:35:26 PM PST by Cultural Jihad
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To: Libloather
Color me burned by your superior wit.
42 posted on 10/27/2002 10:36:02 PM PST by mysterio
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To: Dimensio
Ooops, I mistakenly referred to it as a DA race - actually the guy is running for Attorney General...
43 posted on 10/27/2002 10:36:20 PM PST by citizenK
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To: mysterio
Color me burned by your superior wit.

Thanks. NEXT!

44 posted on 10/27/2002 10:37:13 PM PST by Libloather
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To: missileboy
None of this is news. We have an Attorney General who professes to believe that abortionists kill human beings at abortion clinics--but if YOU try to stop an abortionist from killing people, the Attorney General will see to it that you are arrested, prosecuted, bankrupted, jailed, etc. And every Governor in the country will do the same thing, including every single governor</> who professes to believe that the Constitution does NOT "guarantee a right" to kill people at abortion clinics.
45 posted on 10/27/2002 10:39:04 PM PST by Arthur McGowan
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To: Libloather
No one but liberteens claim that laws are laws and must be obeyed. Anyone is free to civilly disobey any law which offends their conscience, and indeed are obligated to do so. The Nuremberg trials well established this precedence that conscience should be followed above any mere human law. Henry David Thoreau wrote a pamphlet about this very issue, but the moral-liberals seem to think the title was: "Civil Insurrection, and How to Whine About the Consequences of One's Actions"
46 posted on 10/27/2002 10:42:08 PM PST by Cultural Jihad
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To: Arthur McGowan; missileboy
None of this is news.

But finding the age of missileboy maybe news.

Just how old is missileboy?

47 posted on 10/27/2002 10:42:09 PM PST by Libloather
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To: Libloather
I have a problem with laws that disrespect to the constituion, and the bible.
48 posted on 10/27/2002 10:43:35 PM PST by MatthewViti
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To: Cultural Jihad
Anyone is free to civilly disobey any law which offends their conscience, and indeed are obligated to do so.

That maybe more leftist than the leftists of the 60's!

Is this crap coming around for another go?

49 posted on 10/27/2002 10:45:55 PM PST by Libloather
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To: missileboy
(Just how old are you - really?)
50 posted on 10/27/2002 10:51:01 PM PST by Libloather
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To: citizenK
I missed it because I'm supposed to be in bed :)

Thanks for pointing out what I miss most often: the obvious.
51 posted on 10/27/2002 10:53:22 PM PST by Dimensio
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To: Dimensio
I hear you on that staying up too late thing...

I found the AG candidates remarks the most compelling part of the essay - especially given that the people at the meeting (including a newspaper editor) expected him to qualify his remark or retract what he had just said.

Also, I think this example addresses the thrust of the article - this isn't about the public not liking particular laws and engaging in civil disobedience (like bikers riding w/out helments in defiance of the law). The article points to a failure in our system of government and the decay of checks and balances between branches of government. The checks and balances envisioned by the founders of our republic and institutionalized in the Constitution have been replaced by a corrupting cooperation between branches and levels of government whereby bureaucratic hacks and self-serving politicians devote their efforts solely toward forging their place in the power structure of our society.

52 posted on 10/27/2002 11:15:16 PM PST by citizenK
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To: missileboy
Nice fine. Thanks for posting it. Vin is a most excellent writer! When you read his work, you are never left in the dark as to what he means!
53 posted on 10/27/2002 11:15:33 PM PST by dcwusmc
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To: Libloather
And why are you such an a-hole?
54 posted on 10/27/2002 11:42:36 PM PST by Skywalk
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To: eddie willers

I've never known libloather to make a lick of sense.

I hate to say it (figure of speech) but, from the last thread he and I were on he was either acting dumb or, he is as dumb as a fence post (figure of speech--maybe).

Don't waste your's like wrestling a pig.

Or, like trying to nail Jell-O® to a wall.

Listen!... Hear that in the distance?... "Mom, dad forgot to lock the computer and little LL's on the Internet bothering people again."

55 posted on 10/28/2002 12:52:24 AM PST by Zon
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To: Cultural Jihad
"Traumatic toilet training."

Sorry you had such a bad time with it....hopefully you're over it now.


56 posted on 10/28/2002 1:05:27 AM PST by redrock
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To: missileboy
Our Nation was Founded by men, and women, who refused to obey unjust laws.

...sometimes..some of the people on this forum seem to 'forget' this simple fact.


p.s....Excellent article..Vin is one of the best.

57 posted on 10/28/2002 1:10:25 AM PST by redrock
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To: Libloather
"You have a lot to learn. How old are you?"


58 posted on 10/28/2002 1:17:29 AM PST by redrock
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To: Libloather
How old are you?
How old are you?
How old are you?
How old are you?
How old are you?
How old are you?
How old are you?

Unless you have any reasonable argument to make, just SHUT UP!!!!!!!!
59 posted on 10/28/2002 1:27:30 AM PST by mn12
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To: nunya bidness
"Will the last American to care for the rule of law please bring the flag, and hit the lights." can be sure that it will NOT be anyone connected to the current Republican/Democratic Parties...they gave up on the rule of law years ago.

Now...they just want to rule.


60 posted on 10/28/2002 1:31:44 AM PST by redrock
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