Katrina, Walter and John: Has Anybody Here, Seen My Old Constitution?

Roderick T. Beaman

Posted Oct 2, 2005      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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By: Roderick T. Beaman

In a recent national column, Walter Williams, one of the very best nationally syndicated writers, questioned the constitutional justification for federal funding to rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Of course, as anyone who has read the Constitution knows, there is none.

It’s refreshing to find someone raising such concerns. The fact is that almost the entire federal government is unconstitutional and very few citizens are aware of it.

Today, the assumption is that the federal government is empowered to pass any law. There never is a constitutional debate. The constitution was enacted to prevent just this assumption, yet no president since Grover Cleveland has actually seen fit to veto a bill on constitutional grounds. Today, constitutional debates are nonexistent and the Constitution is ignored.

This is a far cry from the atmosphere in the early days of this republic when politicians wrestled with the constitutionality of proposed laws. It was the very first part of the debates and the discussions were spirited and extensive. Since then, we have seen an accumulation of power in Washington that would horrify all of The Founding Fathers, not just Thomas Jefferson, yet few are aware of just how little the constitution empowers the federal government to do.

In John Roberts� recent appearance before the Senate Judiciary, he was asked if he felt there was a right to privacy in the Constitution. He should have said there was, based upon the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

The Ninth Amendment states, �The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.� In other words, the presumption is that the people retain any and all unmentioned rights. If the Constitution fails to mention some particular right, it is presumed to be retained by the people. Since privacy is a right not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, it devolves to the people and not even the states have the power to regulate it. That is a principle that even supposed conservative justices like Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and William Rehnquist never brought up, yet it is a cornerstone of constitutional liberties.

To show how limited the understanding of the Constitution is, there was once a Supreme Court Justice who opined that he couldn�t find a right to privacy anywhere in the Constitution. All he had to do is read the Ninth Amendment. There is no doubt it�s implied. This from a member of a group of people whose entire training concerns finding implication in legal documents. Any judge who says something like that is unfit to be a judge.

The Tenth goes further and states that any powers not specifically delegated to the federal government, devolve to the states and people. It asserts the primacy of the states and the people over the federal government, heresy to liberals.

However, if Roberts had gone into it that way and explained it at length, Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, et al might have clutched their chests and collapsed, a not unattractive consequence. Some Republicans, such as Arlen Specter might have also, another not unattractive consequence.

On The O�Reilly Factor, just last week, Phil Donahue drove Bill O�Reilly into a fit, in a debate on the Iraq War when he said this war is unconstitutional just as every war since World War II has been. Donahue, of course, was correct. Only Congress is empowered to declare war. Any president who commits American troops without a Congressional Declaration of War, especially for a long engagement, violates the Constitution, an impeachable offense and any Congress that brooks such a usurpation of power is guilty of dereliction of duty.

The problem with Donahue is that he demonstrates no concern with the rest of the document. An avowed feminist, Donahue has always been a reliably, trendy liberal. Like Kennedy, Schumer, et al, such a debate would bring into question their entire view of government. It would raise questions about social security, OSHA, EEOC, EPA, etc. There is a lot more to the document than declaration of war, as important as that is.

Nowhere in the Constitution is The Supreme Court specifically empowered to declare any laws unconstitutional. The Court does but its only power is to review laws that arise under the Constitution and some other occasional matters. This was used by John Jay to assume the power to interpret. John Marshall would later decide that the Court had the right to review state laws, also. Jay�s case should have provoked a legislative clarification and Marshall�s, an impeachment. Impeachment, by the way, is an under-used power.

The Constitution means just what it says. No more but no less. It is written in straightforward eighteenth century English that is understandable by anyone, even today. A correct interpretation is not the sole province of nine people in robes in Washington,D.C. The people should be debating these things. They are, through their representatives and the states, the ultimate authorities in such matters, not the courts!

All three branches of the federal government have been engaged in a struggle to assume more and more power. In the process, they have encroached upon the power of the states and the people. They have effectively rendered the concept of federalism meaningless.

These are not trivial matters. Every American should be familiar with The Constitution and The Declaration of Independence, yet even most college students could not pass the test given to citizenship candidates for naturalization. How can anyone function as a citizen without understanding our basic documents? Our schools are not teaching them as they should be.

This nation is hurtling toward a type of totalitarianism, benign in comparison to Germany under National Socialism and Russia under Soviet Socialism, but tyrannical nevertheless. Until there is widespread knowledge of the proper role of government in our lives, we will never reverse this trend and The United States of America will fade into oblivion.

Anything which is based upon a lie, ultimately destroys itself due to its own internal contradictions. German National Socialism died with a bang and Soviet Socialism with a thud. But die they did. Unless we change things, and soon, the same fate awaits us.

“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”


Dr. Roderick T. Beaman is an osteopathic family physician practicing in Jacksonville, Florida. He was born in New York City and attended New York University as an undergraduate. He is a published poet, on-line columnist and is a recipient of a 2003 Ron Paul Liberty in Media Award. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

Published in the September 30, 2005 issue of Ether Zone.
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