In this week’s episode of Tenther Radio we’ll give you a couple of examples of people who only cares about the Constitution when it suits them, and we’ll explain why this is so dangerous. We’ve got news about an Ohio bill to protect the Second Amendment. Plus, we have some development in the ongoing drone war.
Host: Michael Boldin.
Content Production: Mike Maharrey
We hold to a high principle here at the Tenth Amendment Center. Follow the Constitution every issue, every time, no exceptions no excuses.
It’s easy to uphold that principle when it involves blocking federal actions we don’t like. But what happens when the feds do something and we agree with it, but they lack the authority to do it? Are we willing to stand up and say no even though we like the result?
Sadly, many people aren’t.
We’ve come to expect this from mainstream Democrats and Republicans. They regularly scream “Constitution” when it suits their agenda, and then ignore it when constitutional restraints get in the way of their desired policy. But we find it particularly disappointing when folks in the liberty movement do the same thing. And they do it more often than you might think.
Here’s just one example. Last week, a federal judge struck down parts of a strict Texas abortion law. It was a victory for the “pro-choice” side of the debate. We published an article reporting the judge’s opinion, pointing out that no matter which side of the abortion debate you fall on, the federal government actually has no legitimate constitutional authority to interject itself into the issue. Abortion is clearly an object left to the states and the people.
A commenter on the article took us to task, arguing that because the ruling was a “win” for liberty, it was good.
“The judge’s ruling protects the individual liberty of the women involved, so I really couldn’t care less about what the thugs in the legislature or you for that matter have to say about it. Only individuals have rights not states and the judge ruled in favor of the individual.”
In other words, he is saying, “I agree with the judge’s opinion, so the heck with the Constitution, and the rule of law, and the limits on federal power. Go team fed!”
Sadly, our reader takes an extremely shortsighted view. Our commenter got the “win” he was looking for. But he fails to count the cost.
When you allow the federal government to ignore its constitutional limits because you like what it does, you erase those constitutional limits completely. That means you have nothing to appeal to when the feds do something that infringes on your view of liberty. How can you tell the feds, “You can’t do that, it’s unconstitutional!” when yesterday you told them, “Go ahead, do what you want!”
That concept was lost on our reader. In fact, it was pointed out that he made the Constitution irrelevant. He actually appealed the Ninth Amendment to support his argument. But how does the Ninth Amendment bind the feds if you refuse to recognize the other limits on its authority?
Look, we understand that state governments infringe on liberty. It’s not that we trust state governments. We don’t trust any governments. But the danger in centralizing all decision making in Washington D.C. is far greater than letting 50 independent states make their own decisions. Sure, some will pass bad laws. But in a decentralized system, people at least have the option of moving to another state. And Americans have a much better chance at steering state policy than they do the D.C. behemoth.
The federal government was never intended to serve as a liberty enforcement squad. You have to remember: empowering the feds to “protect” liberty from state infringement also gives them the power to define liberty. That has not played out well for us.
Sadly, many liberty-minded people are willing to centralize power if they think it will advance some short-term liberty goal. Perhaps without realizing it, the centralizers within the liberty movement hand their enemies the weapon of their own destruction.