Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Constitution Day: Celebrating Dead Meat

Today is Constitution Day. On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created. So West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd slipped an amendment into the Omnibus spending bill of 2004 designating September 17 as "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day."

If that weren't questionable enough, in 2005, Byrd inserted Section 111 in Public Law 108-447, An Act Making appropriations for foreign operations, export financing, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, and for other purposes, otherwise known as "the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005.” This Act requires all publicly funded educational institutions to provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day, thus making "Constitution Day" entirely unconstitutional, as Nelson Lund and the Heritage Foundation noted back in 2006.

It has been reported that Byrd carried a copy of the Constitution in his pocket every day of his public life,

Every single person who signed the Constitution would agree that the Constitution is dead meat. No knowledgeable or rational person believes that the United States is governed by the Constitution in any meaningful way. Consider these three examples:

1. Separation of Powers. James Madison, known as "the Father of the Constitution," said that any government or branch of government which makes laws, enforces those laws, and adjudicates disputes about those laws, is “the very essence of tyranny.” Congress passes only a couple of hundred bills each session; most are meaningless (awards, namings, designations, etc.) and the rest unread. (Nobody read the Patriot Act. Nobody reads Omnibus Spending bills.) The real work of lawmaking is performed by "Administrative Agencies," who add tens of thousands of pages to the Federal Register. Theses agencies then enforce their own legislation, and if you don't like it, you can tell it to the judge -- in an administrative court. Political scientists like Peter B. McCutchen quietly admit that we are not a "Constitutional Republic" any longer, but a "second best" system: an "Administrative State" (Mistakes, Precedent, and the Rise of the Administrative State: Toward a Constitutional Theory of the Second Best, 80 Cornell Law Review 1 (1994). The Constitution, with its vaunted "separation of powers," is dead meat.

2. Enumerated PowersChief Justice Rehnquist, delivering the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995), exhorted us to
Start with first principles. The Constitution creates a Federal Government of enumerated powers. See U. S. Const., Art. I, §8. As James Madison wrote, "[t]he powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." The Federalist No. 45, pp. 292-293 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961)."
If "We the People" in the words of the Constitution did not give the Federal Government power over education (for example), then the Federal Government has no power over education. (Which is why a federally-mandated "Constitution Day" curriculum is "unconstitutional.") Back in 1996, the Republican Party carried a copy of the Constitution in its pocket, and in its National Platform promised the following:
As a first step in reforming government, we support elimination of the Departments of CommerceHousing and Urban DevelopmentEducation, and Energy, and the elimination, defunding or privatization of agencies which are obsolete, redundant, of limited value, or too regional in focus. Examples of agencies we seek to defund or to privatize are the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Legal Services Corporation.
These promises were consistent with the idea that the Constitution created a government of "enumerated powers." But the Republicans not only reneged on their promises to abolish these unconstitutional bureaucracies, Republicans doubled Clinton's budget for the unconstitutional Department of Education, and increased funding for all those other unconstitutional cancers in the Body Politic. Even though during six years of the Bush Administration, Republicans controlled all three branches of government. They could have done anything they wanted. Now we know what they really want.

3. The Bill of Rights. The Constitution has been amended. And the Amendments that matter have been kicked to the curb. I've described the assault here. Constitutional scholar John W. Whitehead has updated this here.

I repeat: no knowledgeable or rational person believes that the United States is governed by the Constitution in any meaningful way. No knowledgeable or rational person should believe the promises of politicians who swear an oath to heaven to "support the Constitution," "so help me, God."

During my lifetime, the federal government has killed, crippled, or made homeless tens of millions of innocent non-combatant civilians around the world. The federal government is dangerous, and not to be trusted.