"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Constitution is Powerless

I'm currently reading, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William L. Shirer, a man who personally knew Adolph Hitler.  In his description of the years prior to Hitler's rise, Shirer mentions the drafting of the Weimar Constitution:
The constitution which emerged from the Assembly after six months of debate--it was passed on July 31, 1919, and ratified by the President on August 31--was, on paper, the most liberal and democratic document of its kind the twentieth century had seen, mechanically well-nigh perfect, working of an almost flawless democracy...  The wording of the Weimar Constitution was sweet and eloquent to the ear of any democraticaly minded man.  The people were declared sovereign: 'Political power emanates from the people.'  Men and women were given the vote at the age of twenty.  'All Germans are equal before the law... Personal liberty is inviolable...  Every German has a right...to express his opinion freely...All Germans have the right to form associations or societies...  All inhabitants of the Reich enjoy complete liberty of belief and conscience...'  No man in the world would be more free than a German, no government more democratic and liberal than his.  On paper, at least.
I hear critiques from individuals regularly, who denigrate the Constitution of the United States and lay at its feet the failures of government.  History is consulted, blemishes rightfully cited - the Alien and Sedition Acts, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus and refusal to recognize states' rights, the internment of 70,000 American citizens into prison camps without charge or trial in the 1940s, and more recently the NDAA and government claimed power to assassinate American citizens at will, without charge or trial.  These individuals denigrate the Constitution for the sins that mere parchment was unable to prevent.  Still, I hear other individuals who actually justify current and future sins by bringing up sins from the past (internment, Lincoln, etc) - an argument as ineffectual as a child molester justifying his plans to rape a child by pointing out that he has done it in the past.

The Constitution is merely paper for those who do not value the ideas written upon it.  It's a contract and a set of instructions born from valuable history and forged to secure the best possible government given the reality of the world that we are forced to inhabit.  It is not a magical device that prevents evil, or that restrains the shallow and the ambitious.  Immoral people will evade and disregard it - and they will do so with more regularity and boldness when their nation is populated by those who do not value the document or understand the history that gave it birth.  I find the breadth of people who devalue our Constitution alarming; from self described anarchists and liberty lovers who insult the Constitution for its failure to magically restrain immoral men, to liberals who wish the document interpreted to mean whatever they want it to mean thereby making it meaningless, to conservatives who pay lip service to the document when it comes to gun rights while denying the document's protection of the rights of others they don't agree with.  With so much division, it's strange that one unifying shared belief between these differing world views is a passionate contempt for our Constitution.

Recently, Louis Seidman, a constitutional law professor (a profession that carries as much weight as the Nobel Peace Prize in the eyes of many these days), has come out and stated that the Constitution is worthless.  He writes in the New York Times imploring his countrymen, "Let's Give Up on the Constitution."

When the people do not value their Constitution, it is absolutely certain the government will not value it.  When our Constitution is ignored and debased, and the liberty of Americans is vanquished and replaced by outright tyranny - it will not be the Constitution that failed.  It will be the People who failed.  The Constitution, like any set of written instructions or any written contract, is only as useful as the character of the people employed in public service to abide and be restrained by it.  If the People are of the opinion that the Constitution is of no value, their public servants will most assuredly faithfully represent them.


  1. Enforceability is the problem. The Founders included no remedy other than the ballot to expel constitutional detractors. A castration clause could have kept the constitution respected for a good 100 years longer.

    1. It's a good point you make. I think they wanted the remedies to be set by Congress. Congress seems to place little value on remedies for government violating the Constitution though. One example from my own experience, my very very expensive lawsuit against the Border Patrol. Had corrupt judges not dismissed my lawsuit, and had a court ruled that the DHS agents violated the Fourth Amendment, Congress has no remedy allowing a victorious plaintiff to collect legal fees. Wouldn't even get my legal fees paid for after demonstrating the government violated the Constitution. Just no a priority in their minds for some strange reason. As such, you gotta have some money you're willing to let vanish in any attempt to use our federal courts to pronounce our federal government guilty of violating our rights.

    2. And of course even had I won, there would be no accountability handed to the agents.

      So we have this "justice" system in name only. The only thing it does is serve to enrich lawyers and provide the illusion of rule of law.