The Limits of Federal Power

I was having a discussion with a friend on the Bully Pulpit, about the Constitution and the reach of the Supreme Court….and here is my answer

No More Mr. Nice Guy said…

Let’s stick with that right of privacy, which the Court has used to strike down laws pertaining to birth control, abortion, and gay rights.  All of those were state laws, though.  If the Supreme Court doesn’t “define what the constitution says” in that respect, who does?

The answer is simple and is defined by the Tenth Amendment; the Supreme Court’s discovery of a ‘right to privacy’ was simply a power grab. With this decision, the court could rule on virtually anything, and make it stick. In fact, the Tenth Amendment was written to handle this precise point; if a right is not specified in the Constitution, and not prohibited to the States, that right is reserved to the States and to the people.

Now, I know what you are going to say (I said that just to annoy you). What the Tenth Amendment does is breed anarchy; are we TRUELY going to allow the people and the States do whatever they want?

The answer is, yes…we are going to rely on the common sense of the people to make good decisions…and when they make bad decisions, we are going to let them realize those decisions are bad by themselves, so they can change it.

SO…if the South wanted to enslave other human beings, that was their right. Lincoln, himself, said pretty much that in his First Inaugural. If Slavery is wrong, the South, itself, will have to learn that the hard way and change it. If some States want abortion, gay marriage, the right to smoke dope on the Capital Steps, that is their right…I am willing to bet that none of those ‘rights’ will stand the test of time…and, to me, that is what the Supreme Court should be deciding. Is this right found in the Constitution, or do the States have the right to maintain that right themselves?

Of course, this is the argument that has bedeviled the country from its inception, Federalism vs. Anti-Federalism. Where is our power going to be? Washington or spread over 50 Capitals? Can we be strong if any State wants to nullify a Federal Law? This is where the Left and the Right differ, at this point in our country’s history. The Left doesn’t trust the people. They want a strong Federal government to keep the people in line. Frankly, I think the Right is not too far away from that; they just have a more restricted definition of what the rights are.

My own feeling is that tyranny never works…and we have done pretty well with freedom….and the less freedom we have, the worse we have done. I DO trust the people. They will not always do the right thing but, to quote something often attributed to Winston Churchill, “Americans will always do the right thing, after trying everything else, first.” If we don’t give the people the chance to choose, we will never do the right thing…we will just be another kind of monarchy that failed, proof that Democracy can’t work.

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