Is the Constitution worth Salvaging?

There’s nothing wrong with the Constitution that repeal and nullification can’t fix. In the context of Obamacare, the Supreme Court ruling upholding it, and the Sixteenth Amendment granting the government the power to tax incomes, here’s an interesting bit of history. It underscores the reason why we shouldn’t count on Romney or any Conservatives to rescue the country from the cannibals:

“In 1909 progressives in Congress again attached a provision for an income tax to a tariff bill. Conservatives, hoping to kill the idea for good, proposed a constitutional amendment enacting such a tax; they believed an amendment would never receive ratification by three-fourths of the states. Much to their surprise, the amendment was ratified by one state legislature after another, and on February 25, 1913, with the certification by Secretary of State Philander C. Knox, the 16th amendment took effect. Yet in 1913, due to generous exemptions and deductions, less than 1 percent of the population paid income taxes at the rate of only 1 percent of net income.”

So, the Progressives (aka Socialists) outfoxed the Conservatives, who shot themselves in the foot by introducing the legislation as a ruse to defeat a tariff bill. As the brief article explains, the “progressive” wing of the Republican Party also advocated an income tax. And the rate of tax has grown from 1 percent to blatantly confiscatory rates that only tax specialists can understand (if at all). The “progressives” knew this; the “conservatives” didn’t. But, it was Teddy Roosevelt who split the Republican Party by starting his own “Bull Moose Party” and handed the White House to that Progressive fashion plate, Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson during the election of 1912. Wilson approved of every piece of Progressive legislation, including the 16th amendment and the Federal Reserve Act of December 1913 (he took office in March 1913, about a week after ratification of the 16th Amendment). Conservatives have been fighting a rear-guard action against the Progressives every since, in terms of political philosophy, and it too much resembles Napoleon’s retreat from Russia.

Here’s the link to the short article on the history of the 16th Amendment.

So, the Constitution is worth salvaging. It is too remarkable a political document. It just needs a Judge Narragansett to blue pencil those parts of it that contradict its glorious intention and premises, which are to restrict Congress’s power to loot and destroy, as depicted at the end of AS. Unfortunately, no one on the Supreme Court or on any Federal court now is a Narragansett. And I’m afraid we are headed for a civil war between the haves (us) and the entrenched looters, in and out of government. The conflict won’t wait for the philosophical reeducation of Americans. How it will end is a matter of speculation. Or it may be that the country will just become a full-fledged dictatorship lording it over an electorate resigned to its servitude.

Lawless Contempt

I left this comment on a Sultan Knish column on Obama’s lawlessness (24 June 2012):

“Lawlessness” is also the Attorney General, an officer of the law, ignoring a Congressional subpoena to hand over all documents that contain evidence of his and the government’s lawlessness, i.e., of having forced gun shop owners to sell guns to agents of lawless drug cartels, with the aim of arming killers with American made guns, so that an excuse can be made to outlaw American ownership of guns and nullify the Second Amendment. This “lawlessness” is compounded by the Attorney General lying to Congress about the date of inception and purpose of the program. The “lawlessness” is further compounded by the President invoking executive privilege in support of the Attorney General’s lawless behavior, with full knowledge of the lawless means and ends of Fast and Furious and the damning evidence contained in the hidden documents, by telling Congress and the electorate to go suck an egg. After all, the public hasn’t a right to know. It’s there somewhere in the Constitution, claims a President who once taught Constitutional law. Never mind that contempt of Congress is also contempt for the people. The contempt has been old news since 2008.

In the meantime, the mainstream media is crowing that the President is handling his lawlessness with admirable aplomb, that the Attorney General is being persecuted by the non-mainstream media exercising its freedom of speech, and that the whole issue is merely a Republican conspiracy to make the President and Attorney General look bad and lawless. The mainstream media, as Daniel notes, has for a long, long time idolized Robin Hood – a.k.a., the compulsory welfare state – and with equal aplomb disregards the guilt of the actors, and wishes to acquit the guilty because they “meant well.”
Rush Limbaugh has the best explanation of Fast and Furious. Limbaugh will be ignored, however, because he has told the truth about the lawlessness of Obama and his whole cabinet and gaggle of appointees and czars. Obama, the Attorney General, and their courtiers, together with the mainstream media, hope someday to silence people like Limbaugh because his brand of truth-telling is obviously (their emotions tell them so) hurtful, bigoted, and callous. There ought to be a law against such defamatory speech.

Gilbert and Sullivan, Mozart, and Puccini couldn’t have contrived a more convoluted plot if they had put their heads together and composed an opera with a generous grants from the National Endowments of the Arts and the Humanities, which are also lawless entities spending taxpayer money for the “public good.”

Obama’s Legal Minions Name Their Enemy

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, “may violate the constitution of Ayn Rand, but they do not violate the Constitution of the United States,” acting solicitor general Neal Kumar Katyal told a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday. Conversely, attorney Paul Clement, representing Georgia and 25 other states, framed the issue of mandated purchase of health insurance as an issue of liberty. “Can the federal government compel an individual to take part in commercial activity in order to better regulate that individual?” he asked the judges. [ObamaCare gets put through judicial wringer | Jay Bookman

And what does Ayn Rand have to say about the constitution?

The American system of checks and balances was just such an achievement. And although certain contradictions in the Constitution did leave a loophole for the growth of statism, the incomparable achievement was the concept of a constitution as a means of limiting and restricting the power of the government. […] 

Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals—that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government—that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens’ protection against the government. [“The Nature of Government”, The Virtue of Selfishness]

The clause giving Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce is one of the major errors in the Constitution. That clause, more than any other, was the crack in the Constitution’s foundation, the entering wedge of statism, which permitted the gradual establishment of the welfare state. But I would venture to say that the framers of the Constitution could not have conceived of what that clause has now become. If, in writing it, one of their goals was to facilitate the flow of trade and prevent the establishment of trade barriers among the states, that clause has reached the opposite destination. [“Censorship: Local and Express”,  Philosophy: Who Needs It 184]

This view is apparently what the Nihilist’s of the Obama administration disagree with.

As Good As One Could Expect: Notes on Judge Vinson’s Opinion of Obamacare

Amy Peikoff writes in her blog, Don’t Let It Go, on Judge Vinson’s 78 page opinion in which he held that Obamacare was unconstitutional:

[…] When I first read the opinion, I was not pleased. I was not pleased that Vinson began by using an Originalist approach; I was not pleased that he seemed to concede the propriety of treating the Constitution as, in effect, a “living” document; I was not pleased that he implied that the Supreme Court could — in fact that he seemed to invite them to — eliminate the activity/inactivity distinction. I feared that the Supreme Court might just decide that, in our modern commercial age, yada, yada, yada, an economic decision can constitute “activity” for purposes of the Commerce Clause, and that Vinson hadn’t done enough to prevent this. I found his basic argument — that, given the current state of Commerce Clause jurisprudence, if this law were to be upheld, no real distinction could be made between the “individual mandate” and anything else Congress wanted to make people do, and therefore, if this law were to be upheld, our government would no longer be a limited one whose powers are enumerated — terribly unsatisfying. But today, after sleeping on it (even if only for a few hours), and having a brief interchange with an actual Constitutional Lawyer, I realize that my expectations are unrealistic. This is about as good as one could expect.

First, even if Vinson were an Objectivist, his job would be to apply the law, as it exists, to the facts of the case before him. Thus, even if he rejected the Originalist approach, he would still be stuck with the language of the Commerce Clause itself, plus all of the horrible precedent expanding Congress’s powers under that clause. Especially given that Vinson is a district court judge, it seems the best he can do is to explain why, in the context of this binding precedent, Obamacare goes too far, and is therefore unconstitutional. So, given that I’ve concluded this was Vinson’s assignment, is there something significant he could have done that would have been more satisfying to me? I did find his expressing “reluctance” in striking down the legislation to be annoying. I mean, at least he needn’t be reluctant! He is, after all, assuming he is right, saving us from a government whose powers are no longer enumerated and limited, right? He should be glad about this! I also was annoyed that he seemed to be inviting the Supreme Court, twice during the course of his opinion, to reformulate its Commerce Clause jurisprudence in a way that allows them to uphold this legislation. However, what I realized today is the only significant thing I found missing was some sort of argument as to why it must be an activity that Congress regulates under the Clause. I wanted some sort of positive justification for the activity/inactivity distinction. It was no good to just hang one’s hat on the idea that, if you get rid of this distinction, Congress could do whatever it wants. I needed more!

What sort of argument could one provide?

Find out in her enlightening post, Notes on Judge Vinson’s Opinion.

Pin It on Pinterest