Conservative To The Core — The Constitution not an evolving entity
It amazed me when not so many years ago people began arguing that the U.S. Constitution was applicable only to the time in which it was composed and that things have “evolved” to the point that now, the Constitution is in a large measure, irrelevant. Indeed, our president has said as much. And that thought sends shivers up my conservative spine.
The host on a recent broadcast of a weekend National Public Radio quiz show accused conservative thinkers of “ … worshiping a 200-year-old parchment.” Sadly, this comment drew gales of laughter. His meaning was unmistakable. He was saying that those who strictly adhere to the words of the framers of our constitution are on a par with religious cultists, or fanatics. In my mind, the ultimate and only possible result of such thinking is to come to a point where we have no immutable laws, only rules that are continually subject to change according to the whims of whoever is in power wishes to change them.
On March 7, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia offered his views of how the court needs to deal with the Constitution. Justice Scalia spoke on interpreting the Constitution as it was originally written, and with the same intent as when written.
Scalia pointed out that something called “originalism,” or working to determine exactly what the words in the Constitution mean, is the only way in which the Supreme Court may legitimately rule on Constitutional subjects. Specifically, Justice Scalia said: “The Constitution is not a living organism. It’s a legal document and it says what it says and doesn’t say what it doesn’t say.” I say let those words soak in. The Constitution, in view of this, is within the realm of understanding of the majority of our citizens, since it only means what it says, and nothing more.
Let’s consider some Constitutional Amendments and see how Justice Scalia’s views conflict with those of left-wing politicians. The First Amendment comes immediately to mind. Although public opinion against the idea caused them to withdraw from further action, the Washington administration let the cat out of the bag by announcing its plans to monitor how news media outlets chose what news topics to feature. The idea of such censorship flies in the face of the First Amendment, which reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press … ”
So why would the government want to monitor and assess newsroom procedure? If not to regulate by law those procedures, then why bother intruding into the news media at all? Keep in mind that the threat of intrusion and eventual regulation was only tabled, it wasn’t ended. The government made no promise that it wouldn’t resurrect these tactics again in the future.
Thinking of the bad results of regulating the news media, we have only to look back at the former Soviet Socialist Republic. The party commanded the news and whatever the party wanted was aired and what the party didn’t want was hidden. Thus, people in Soviet bloc countries had no news except for party-line drivel, which, presumably, many of them knew was pure bunk.
A bit of much-needed enlightenment for people living in dictatorships came in the form of Radio Free Europe. Younger readers may not remember Radio Free Europe, but it was the voice of freedom and truth and in many instances, the only manner in which oppressed people could ever hear the truth.
Is it good for government to regulate the news? Consider the North Korean news media. The North Korean people live in poverty and misery and the only news they ever hear is party-biased fantasy from their chubby little dictator. This same dictator would just as soon chop off the head of his grandmother if he thought that she disagreed with him on some small point.
So thus we see the value of strict adherence to the Constitution of the United States and in this case, the first article in its list of amendments: freedom of the press, such an important freedom. It’s little wonder that it is included in the first article of amendment to the Constitution.
In Maine, a bill to allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons without a permit failed by only a slight margin. That was last year and now, in a very short time, a similar bill comes up for vote again. Should it pass, it will signal Maine’s belief in the basic freedom defined in Article II, the Second Amendment. That amendment states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
An originalist such as Judge Scalia would say that the meaning of the framers here was very clear. The militia included everyone, all able-bodied people who could carry a gun. Today, dissenters argue that the militia is the National Guard. But that isn’t what the framers were saying.
That idea of an armed populist being a de-facto militia is well founded. James Taylor, who was held captive in a German prison camp after being shot down during World War II once confided in me that part of the U.S. Government’s plan for the ultimate defense of our country included the armed citizen. Indeed, past aggressors deferred from invading U.S. soil because they knew that our citizens were well armed.
Getting back to those individuals who consider the constitution an aging, irrelevant document, let us remember that the situations and human emotions that the framers dealt with have not changed one little bit since 1787. Human nature, especially the thoughts, actions and deeds of those in power is always ready to present its bad side. Power begets power and in some cases, unlimited power. Our Constitution prevents that from happening.