Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Constitution Door Mat

I once thought that the Constitution was in a sealed case locked safely away in a vault in Washington DC. I have now come to realize that The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights have been woven into door mats that are now sitting at the entrances to the White House and Capitol Hill. OK, so maybe they aren’t, but they might as well be with the way our politicians are treating the Constitution and the limits it places on their powers. You see, a door mat can be both a very useful item when you have mud on your feet and you don’t want people to know that you are dirty, otherwise it is just something that you just have to keep moving around on the porch to get to other things. That’s how our politicians are treating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; it’s also how they feel about the Declaration of Independence. I’m really not surprised at this considering all the double talk that politicians are guilty of, one day they are for something if they are standing in front of the right crowd or they are on the campaign trail, the next day they are against it if being against it will gain them more power. Unfortunately this problem is not restricted to just the politicians within the Federal Government; this problem is present in the many special interest groups throughout the country.

The American people are the true custodians of the Constitution, this means that we have to stay vigilant and question all attacks on the Constitution, even from organizations we may be a part of or we believe in. I am a member of the National Rifle Association because I believe in the right of every American to own a gun. More then that though; I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In this case 2 Amendments come to mind. Obviously the first one is the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. This Amendment was put into the Bill of Rights for the express purpose to prevent a Government from ever doing what the British Government did to the original 13 colonies. This is the Amendment that the NRA fights for with such fervor that they forget about any of the other Amendments, in this case and in most others, the Tenth Amendment; The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. What the NRA has forgotten in their fight is that the Bill of Rights is a restriction on the powers of the Federal Government, not a restriction on the separate State Governments. Recently the NRA placed it’s support behind a case against the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. The case had gone through the State courts, finally winding up in the Supreme Court; the Supreme Court ruled that the Illinois law was unconstitutional. In truth the law had nothing to do with the Constitution.

In the Arizona Immigration Law the United States is suing the State of Arizona, saying that SB1070 is unconstitutional and that the State of Arizona has no right to enforce Federal Law. On this one I have a couple of problems, one is that the Arizona Law is more restrictive then the Federal Law. Law Enforcement Officers in Arizona can only question the immigration status of an individual if they are stopped for another reason and there is reasonable suspicion to question the immigration status. SB1070 covers all ethnic groups, so there is no racial or ethnic profiling. The Federal Law allows Law Enforcement to racially profile and stop individuals for no other reason then to check immigration status. A very well respected individual that has written several books about the Constitution has argued that the Arizona law is illegal since the State cannot protect the Federal border; he has also stated that being in the country illegally is not a crime. In this case the Federal border is also the States border. Not only is the Federal Government infringing on the States Rights per the Tenth Amendment but the Federal Government is also violating Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution, which states that the Federal Government will not only guarantee a Republican form of Government to all States, they also shall protect the States from invasion. What is going on at the Mexican border is an invasion. The problem on the border has gotten so bad that the State of Arizona had to take action to protect its people and its land since the Federal Government was not honoring Article IV Section 4. If you read the powers enumerated to Congress you will notice that the Constitution states that Congress shall make laws for uniform naturalization, not immigration. The State of Arizona is only exercising their Tenth Amendment rights. I also do not understand how violation of a law can not be a crime.

Recently the State of California placed a proposition on the ballot to amend their Constitution, Proposition 8. Proposition 8 outlawed same sex marriage in California. The law passed with an overwhelming majority. California amended their Constitution in the correct manner; however, a Federal District Judge put a hold on the Proposition and allowed same sex marriages to continue stating that the proposition was unconstitutional. The proposition had nothing to do with the US Constitution, it applied only to the California Constitution. The Federal Courts have no right ruling either way on proposition 8, the people of California made their decision.

The problem with all of these issues is that the Constitution is not something that can be interpreted any way you want depending on the situation. Even in cases where you may personally believe in something it is not right to mold the Constitution to win your cause, such as my belief in the right to own and bear arms does not mean that the Second Amendment can be applied to the States. When you allow the Federal Government to apply the Bill of Rights to the States we are allowing the Bill of Rights to be nationalized. The Bill of Rights are restrictions on the Federal Government, not on the State Governments. In the early days of the United States several of the States had State sponsored churches, something that the Constitution expressly forbids the Federal Government from doing. By forcing the Second Amendment on the State of Illinois we are opening the door for all the Amendments to be forced on the States which in turn will make the Tenth Amendment null and void. The States will not continue to be individual States; they will be nothing more then counties in the big State of the United States. Our local Governments will be nothing more then pawns in the big picture. Some argue that we need to stop the Federal Government; some argue that we need to start at the local levels and move up. I really do not know which is the best route, I’m of the opinion that we need to start at the Federal Government and stop it, that way we can then put the power back into the States and the People; then the People can get the States back under control, the way the Founding Fathers intended for it to be. The Constitution is not meant to be something that is easy to live by, it’s not meant to make life easy. It’s meant as a means to have liberty, free from a tyrant. It’s meant to keep the Federal Government from becoming a monarchy with all its 50 fiefdoms that enforce its rule and collects its taxes. Sure it opens the door for the States to become little monarchies, but that is the beauty of the Constitution. We can either control our States or we can move to a State that believes the way we do. That’s a powerful incentive for States to listen to the people, take the money and business out of a State and they tend to listen. It’s not as true with the United States, there is no other country on the planet that is as close to true liberty, true freedom as the United States, even with all the troubles we are going through now. We can’t just pack up and move, where would we move to?

Steve Avery