10.01.2008 0

The Sane Majority

  • On: 10/22/2008 14:01:43
  • In: Federalism
  • Only 60 percent of Americans support the Constitution. They’re the sane majority.

    Such are the findings of a recent poll by Rasmussen Reports:

    “Most voters (60%)… says the Supreme Court should make decisions based on what is written in the constitution, while 30% say rulings should be guided on the judge’s sense of fairness and justice.”

    While it is something of a relief that a majority of Americans still believe that the Federal Constitution needs to be followed by judges and justices, of greater concern is the 30 percent that believe an arbitrary sense of “fairness” ought to trump whatever the Constitution happens to call for.

    Apparently, those 30 percent have decided somewhere along the way that following the Constitution is not as important as getting what they want out of the judicial branch. And that is the very definition of judicial activism.

    For decades, the American people have had to suffer through arbitrary decisions by the Supreme Court that deviate from the real meaning of the Constitution: interpreting the power to regulate interstate commerce as the power to regulate everything; interpreting that compelling state interests trump constitutionally-drawn rights; conferring constitutional rights upon enemy combatants captured overseas; construing eminent domain seizures given to private enterprise as a legitimate “public use” if it spurred economic “development”; and restricting individual campaign donation to candidates to limit the possibility of public corruption.

    These are but a few examples. But they are all instances where the Supreme Court has found exception to what the Constitution actually says.

    The rule of law, however, depends upon a consistent interpretation of the bedrock law of the nation. For, in the words of Chief Justice John Marshall, “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” And that does not mean that justices ought to decide that based upon their own “sense of fairness and justice.”

    A true cynic may prefer such a system where judges and justices can act according to their own opinions, because then everything is constitutional that he or she agrees with, and everything unconstitutional that is disagreeable. But that is the exact opposite of what a constitution is supposed to do.

    A constitution, precisely speaking, is the governing document of a nation that defines and limits the exercise of powers by the government and enumerates and protects the rights of the people under law.

    Without such limitations on the government and protections for the people, government would be all-powerful, tyrannical, and capricious. And yes, very dangerous.

    For the 60 percent that still believe in constitutional limited government, be vigilant. Liberty could be lost in the blink of an eye. Or in the appointment of a single justice who doesn’t respect the rule of law. In short: remain sane.


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