If someone asked you for a political forecast what would you conclude? I believe the answers would vary wildly and cover the gamut of the political spectrum. A crucial factor is the Constitution. Other factors may be ideology or personal interests. Generalizations such as fairness, compassion, or some personal interpretation of justice may be significant influences to some.
The Constitution is the rule book established by the states and the people of the respective states to control and restrain the federal government. In other words, the Constitution is what governs government. Think about that for a moment. Government itself needs rules, constraints, boundaries placed upon it to ensure government conducts itself accordingly.
When man leaves the state of nature and enters into a social contract through an instrument known as a Constitution man is in a state of society. There are certain rights man cedes to government under the instrument. One of the most critical is related to interpersonal adjudication. In a state of nature, if one man wrongs another man, the wronged man may seek retribution. The justice served by the wronged man may far exceed the actual wrong committed in the first instance. In a state of society an impartial third party (judge or jury) would adjudicate this type of situation.
The Constitution delegates certain powers to the federal government and all other powers are retained to the states or the people, respectively. There are three parties to the Constitution; the people of the several states, the several states, and the federal government. Since the people are the sovereigns they started with 100% of the powers. The citizens of each state ceded certain powers to their state governments, respectively. Under the Constitution, the citizens through their state ratifying conventions approved the Constitution which delegated limited powers to the federal government (some of which were state powers prior to the Constitution). The citizens also delegated certain limited powers to their state governments through state constitutions (all in existence before the Constitution). The people retained all other powers.
Let’s return to the concept of interpersonal adjudication. In the case where two people have a dispute or one party is wronged and accuses the other of a violation of the law, an impartial third party adjudicates the dispute. What happens when one or more state governments, or the citizens of state, has a dispute with the powers exercised by the federal government? Who adjudicates the dispute?
We are accustom to the Supreme Court of the United States adjudicating federal vs. states powers (or the peoples’ powers). There is a serious flaw though. The citizens, through their states, created the federal government and delegated limited powers. If the very government created is the final and sole arbiter of all disputes between it and the citizens and the states, it cannot be an impartial and unbiased third party. The very government created by the citizens and the states assumes the power to decide whether its own powers are constitutional or not.
Furthermore, consider the birth of the country. The colonies lived under a despotic and tyrannical King. The colonists declared their independence from Britain knowing if they failed they would all be traitors and summarily executed. The colonists fought a civil war and seceded from Britain. The free and independent states along with the citizens of each state created a new government. To believe the very government they created was the sole and final arbiter of the rule book – the Constitution – is both absurd and naïve. Why delegate limited powers if the very entity just created has the power and authority to change the rule book whenever they want without a constitutional amendment. What’s the point of trading one tyrant three thousand miles away for hundreds of tyrants a few miles away. Tyranny is tyranny regardless of geography.
Here’s a bit of trivia. From 1937 to 1995 how many laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the President did the Supreme Court overturn? The answer is zero. Fifty-eight years and not a single law passed by any Congress was ruled unconstitutional. It’s hard to fathom.
Once the federal government acts unconstitutionally is there any recourse for the states or the citizens of the states. The answer is a resounding, yes! First, the supremacy clause states that any statutory law that is not made in pursuance of the Constitution is null and void. If a statutory law is in conflict with constitutional law, which law takes precedence? Hopefully, you answered; the Constitution. If the federal government disobeys the Constitution and enacts a statutory law not in pursuance of the Constitution, states have a right and a duty to obey the Constitution. Therefore, because states have a right and duty to obey the Constitution they must ignore the law which in essence declares the law null and void. The states have an absolute duty to interpose themselves between the federal government and their citizens to ensure unconstitutional federal laws are not enforced upon their citizens.
Secondly, states have the power to submit amendments to the states through an Article V convention. The framers provided two methods of proposing amendments. One method is through the federal government (Congress) and the other by the state governments. In fact, during the constitutional convention of 1787 the first draft out of Committee provided for amendments to be proposed by only the states. It was not until the second draft that the federal method to propose amendments was added.
Our current state of affairs borders on tyranny. The federal government assumes powers not delegated to it in violation of the Constitution. But nobody stops them. The voters continue to vote the same people into office. Both parties use the Constitution when it serves their purposes. How many times have you heard Republicans talk about some law or government program that is unconstitutional and then do absolutely nothing to repeal it? By then the next constitutional violation is at hand and Republicans are yelping about it again but do absolutely nothing about it when in power. How many unconstitutional laws and/or programs were repealed under Bush 43?
Because both parties, all three branches of the federal government, and many Governors and state legislators simply care more about winning the game then following the rule book. In other words, they are cheaters. They take an oath to uphold the rule book and they immediately begin violating it. They simply cheat and eschew the rule book to win. Consider that next time you cast a vote for a candidate.
I’m hopeful we are near the end of this long train of abuses and usurpations. If not my political forecast is Partly Constitutional with a Good Chance of Tyranny.