Thursday, August 09, 2012

Restore the Constitution? By All Means -- To Before It Was Mangled by Scalia et al

In an August 2nd article on the results of the July 31st Texas primary runoff, the Houston Chronicle noted that while Ted Cruz's win as Republican Senate nominee was the most conspicuous success of the Tea Party PACs that deluged the state with anti-government TV commercials, long-term Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst was not the only experienced Texas conservative that the Tea Party managed to unseat. In fact, the Chronicle reported, "Dewhurst was one of seven Republican candidates on Tuesday who fell victim to their office-holding experience."

One of the more tiresome themes repeated ad nauseam in Cruz's commercials and most of the other victorious Tea Baggers' was that they were determined to "restore the Constitution."  This, of course, is code for the claim--which no political fact checker or court has ever found grounded in reality--that President Obama is a socialist who has departed from the Constitution in several significant ways, especially in riding roughshod over states' rights.  The remedies they envision include defeating Obama and repealing the Affordable Care Act.  But in Cruz's case, as Houston Chronicle Columnist Lisa Falkenberg pointed out today, additional moves necessary to "restore the Constitution" include proposals to "abolish the Departments of Education, Commerce and Energy, the Transportation Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service in one fell swoop."

Yet the need to "restore the Constitution" is undeniably pressing.  But it has nothing to do with the Tea Party's imaginary grievances.  What it does involve is restoring the majesty and clarity of the Constitution before Scalia et al did so much to muddle and mangle it.

So by all means, let us restore the Constitution.

First and foremost, let us restore the militia clause to the Second Amendment.  All of the Supreme Court justices who ruled on the Second Amendment acknowledged that the militia clause was stubbornly there -- and that it was the crucial element distinguishing various models of the right to bear arms which the Framers considered and rejected, from the wording they actually adopted.  However, the majority followed Scalia in ignoring the militia clause and finding an obscenely expansive right to bear arms which the Framers never claimed.

Then let us restore the Constitution's understanding that it is individuals who have rights like freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion -- and never corporations. The lie that corporations are persons in the sense that individuals are was at the heart of the insane Citizens United decision, and its insane consequences are nowhere more clearly evident than in the results of the Texas primary -- where unfettered, unaccountable rich people disguised as "non-partisan" Political Action Committees bought seven elections with massive amounts of cash.

Then let us restore the right of Congress to tell states they cannot receive federal funds extracted from all U.S. taxpayers without following the rules Congress sets up for those funds.  The assumption that taxpayers from other states should give Texas or Louisiana or other social justice backwaters carte blanche funding to spend however they damn well please has nothing to do with states' rights -- apart from the rights of states whose citizens don't want their money used in that fashion.  We are returning to the disarray and chaos of the Articles of Confederation if the federal government can have no say in how funds it apportions among the several states are spent.

And finally, let us restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.  Never before in American history has a ruling by the Supreme Court been so thoroughly undermined by states who disagree with it.  Women and hospitals and doctors who tried to follow the ruling meticulously have been vilified and criminalized without cease.  And the federal government and the Supreme Court itself have allowed this flouting of the law.  It is long past time for the authority of the ruling to be upheld in practice.

So yes, let us restore the Constitution.  And let's stop the silly pretense that President Obama has done anything to the Constitution that needs to be reversed.  But do let us clean up the mess that Scalia et al have made of our most treasured national law.

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