Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Original Intent and the nomination of Harriet Miers

In an earlier posting, I wondered why there is such national disagreement as to what the United States Constitution means and what the role of the Supreme Court is in our government. It just seems very odd to me that the meaning of the Constitution, a document which is discussed in Civics, US History and Political Science classes all across the country and to which every elected Federal Office holder must swear allegiance to, causes such controversy. The nomination by President Bush of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court has rekindled this debate.

President Bush has been very emphatic when he says that he thinks judges should be “strict constructionists” in how they approach their job. I completely agree, but I have little faith that President Bush, or the Senators that will ultimately vote upon her nomination, actually mean this.

For a “strict constructionist”, there are a whole host of Federal Government programs which are clearly and obviously unconstitutional. These run the gamut from the War on Drugs to the Department of Education. They include Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, the FDA, the DEA and the BATF. I can guarantee you, however, that every Senator and the President and Vice-President agrees that the Executive and Legislative Branches have power in these and every other area.

If we as a nation WANT the Federal Government to create a program such as Social Security, it should be authorized via a Constitutional Amendment. Only in this manner can we be assured of broad national support for new powers given to the Federal Government.

For anyone who actually READS the Constitution, it’s clear that it delegates specific powers to the Federal Government and FORBIDS it from expanding those powers except via the Constitutional Amendment process. There is no wiggle room here. There is no clause in the Constitution which states that the Legislative and Executive branches can pass legislation on any subject they want to. And yet they continue to do so. We have recently witnessed the farce of baseball players testifying before Congress as to whether or not they have used performance enhancing drugs. Can anyone show me ANY clause in the Constitution which would, however remotely, give Congress the power to regulate these substances?

If President Bush can kindle and foster a true national debate about these issues via the nomination of Ms. Miers, it would be the finest thing he has ever accomplished as President. But I will lay long odds that it won’t happen. Conservatives will continue to push to expand government powers to advance their agenda and Liberals will do the same to advance theirs. And all of us will continue to sacrifice more and more of our rights and our liberties on the altar of government power.

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