The View From 1776

Contempt for the Constitution

Liberals, who are quick to discover Constitutional “rights” like abortion that are unmentioned in the Constitution, feel free to ignore the explicit terms of the Constitution.

In today’s editorial page, the New York Times displays the contempt for the Constitution that characterizes a liberal-socialist elite intent upon expunging every vestige of personal morality and civic virtue. 

Franklin Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in 1933 set the tone.  Referring to his campaign promise to impose Soviet-style state-planning upon the nation, he said, “Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangements without loss of essential form….”  In other words, the words of the Constitution would remain unchanged, but the newly collectivized Federal government would feel free to do whatever it wanted to do, regardless of the Bill of Rights and 144 years of tradition. 

This was the doctrine of implied powers.  Because, for example, the Constitution’s Preamble declares that it is intended to “promote the general Welfare,” then an implied power is to criminalize people’s thoughts by creating a category of “hate” crimes that carry heavier penalties than would be imposed for the same dereliction when the perpetrator was not thinking the wrong thoughts.  The Constitution empowers Congress exclusively to regulate interstate commerce; so naturally this gives Congress the power to regulate students carrying firearms in local public schools.  At least, that’s the hook on which Congress hung that piece of legislation (What do you mean, you can’t see the connection between interstate commerce and students carrying firearms?  Like abortion “rights,” it’s implied in the penumbras of the shadows of the Constitution’s commerce clause, liberals tell us.)

Implied powers is an insidious doctrine that removes all limits upon exercise of arbitrary political power and trampling individual rights. The Times editorial board, however, are taking an even greater leap.  They propose simply to ignore the specific directive of the Constitution.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution says with regard to the President and Vice President: “...shall…be elected as follows.  Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Only the individual state legislatures are constitutionally empowered to establish procedures and to set standards for selecting Electors who will choose the new President and Vice President.

Ignore the Constitution, thunder the august Times editorialists in New Standards for Elections.  “It’s patently obvious that presidential elections, at least, should be conducted under uniform rules….. States may have the right to set their own standards for local elections, but picking the president is a national enterprise.  This is obviously a job for Congress…”

This same disregard for the Constitution explains why liberal-socialists were so upset in 2000 when the United States Supreme Court invoked the language of Article II, Section 1 to tell the Florida Supreme Court that it had no power to circumvent the Florida legislature and dream up its own standards and procedures for counting votes.

For liberal-socialists, the necessary outcome of a Presidential election is a matter that only their intellectuals have the mental capacity to determine.  And liberal-socialism’s philosophy of pragmatism teaches that the desired end (imposing socialism) justifies any means, including ignoring the Constitution.