We the People
“We the People;” These three powerful words start the preamble to the Constitution.
“We the People of the United States” – not “We the State;” nor “We the Government,” but “We the People”
This powerful phrase reflects the views of our Founding Fathers and of the American people. We are a nation of the people, not of the state. The State answers to the people – not the people to the State.
We rebelled, as a people, against the yolk of a foreign government, the British. We rebelled because Parliament and King George III made decisions for us without our consent. We rebelled against the top-down central governments of Europe.
We fought for our independence from England, but more significantly, we fought for our individual liberty. We were not going to trade one omnipotent central government for another.
The Constitution was drafted to limit the powers of the legislature and the President. Thus, Article I, Section I starts “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” Section 8 lists “Powers Granted to Congress.” Thus Congress only possesses the powers granted to it in the Constitution, the enumerated powers set forth in the Constitution.
Congress thereby lacks plenary powers. The government was to be subservient to the people, not the people to the government.
Limits on Congress and the executive Branch are further set forth in the Bill of Rights, the purpose of which was to define and protect the rights of the people against the national government.
The Ninth Amendment provides “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
The Tenth Amendment provides “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Ours is a national government of limited powers with the powers residing in the people and the states.
The North’s victory in the Civil Role strengthened the role of the central government in Washington, and resulted in a true union of the states.
The major change though came with the Great Depression and FDR’s New Deal with the creation of the fourth branch of government, the administrative branch, not answerable to anyone. The Supreme Court initially overturned some of the New Deal acts, followed by President Roosevelt threatening to pack the Supreme Court.
Congress was hostile to the President’s proposal, but the key was a change in a few Justices, who suddenly started to support the New Deal legislation. The quip was “A switch in time saved nine.”
The United States has the longest lasting Constitution. Our Constitution has persevered over 200 years with only a few amendments because it has succeeded to protecting us a free people.
Not all are happy though with the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in February, when asked for advice from Egypt about a new constitution, advised the Egyptians not to look to the U. S. Constitution, but to South Africa’s, because South Africa’s was newer and recognized more social rights.
She could also have looked to the Russian constitution of 50 years ago. It guaranteed many rights of the people, but was meaningless in fact. The KGB trumped the words of that paper document.
Illinois State Senator Barack Obama in a 2001 recording said the Constitution was fundamentally flawed because it did not mandate not allow the redistribution of wealth.
Liberal activists look to the courts to define new rights with the Constitution existing as a “Living Constitution” whose meaning is dynamic and not static. Thus, judges are free to reinterpret the Constitution as they please without being bound by the words of the Constitution. If for example Justices wish to seek guidance from modern European values, then they may do so irrespective of the plain words of the Constitution and the intent of the framers.
The literal words by themselves mean little under the Living Constitution theory. A good summary of this approach is to quote from Alice in Wonderland:
“When I use a word,” says Humpty Dumpty, “it means just what I choose it to mean – never more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice “whether you can make words mean so many things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
Our question is “Who shall be master of the American people – the people or the
Under this approach, the President can order catholic institutions to provide contraception for free, regardless of the First Amendment.
Justice Kennedy was right on Tuesday. ObamaCare fundamentally changes the relationship between the American people and Congress. If upheld, an omnipotent Congress becomes the master of the American people with plenary powers.
Never before has Congress ordered that the Americans affirmatively engage in an activity, depriving the American people of individual liberty. The Solicitor General, the otherwise brilliant Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., was unable to come up with a limiting standard of where to draw the line on Congressional mandates of the American people. He was trying to defend the indefensible.
Americans have always been a rebellious people. We don't like the government telling us what to do. We don't like the government telling our religions what to do.
The Supreme Court will judicially amend the Constitution if it upholds the individual mandate. The government will now be able to tell us what to do.