Abandon the Constitution to Save it?

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Based on ideas from Cokie Roberts’ recent article found here, it is hard to draw any conclusion other than she prefers a dictatorship of the federal government to the balance of power guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Obamacare has been signed into law. However, there are a number of other checks and balances built into the Constitution that are specifically designed to protect the states and ultimately “we the people” from unconstitutional laws. Unconstitutional laws would include any law passed by the federal legislature that was not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. States have authority to make laws on all of the other matters, this is guaranteed by the 10th amendment.

Cokie’s article seems to suggest that “we the people” simply ignore these other checks because she is afraid that it might lead to a civil war. Ironically, her “solution” to avoid civil war is actually the most likely spark to ignite it, here’s why.

From the first paragraph: “It’s also easy… to view today’s nullification battle over health care less as a frivolous political game and more as a serious threat to the Constitution.” In effect she is saying “We must abandon the Constitution to save the Constitution”. This kind of circular thinking is as dangerous to freedom as G.W. Bush’s declaration that “we must abandon the free market to save the free market”. I think what actually concerns her must be that state sovereignty is a “serious threat to absolute federal power”. Hint: that’s the way it is supposed to be.

Her article continues: “The attorneys general of 14 states have filed suit challenging the health care law because, they argue, the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to require the purchase of health insurance.”

This is true, and this is an appeal to the judicial branch of the federal government. What is the problem? Does Cokie really want to eliminate the federal court’s ability to strike down unconstitutional laws? I hope not, that might lead to unchecked executive power.

The next sentence states: “Virginia, acting in direct defiance of federal law, passed a measure making mandated health insurance illegal.”

This is partially true. Virginia is actually indicating that they believe the health care law to be unconstitutional and they have passed state legislation that positions the power of the state government between the federal government and the citizens of Virginia. This is a legal and proper role of state governments; if the federal government steps outside it’s enumerated powers, it is the duty of the state to respond accordingly. Is Cokie hinting that the second tier of balanced power should be abandoned too? I hope not, that would lead to fully centralized power.

Consider Thomas Jefferson’s sentiments about this very situation:

“I am for preserving to the States the powers not yielded by them to the Union, and to the legislature of the Union its constitutional share in the division of powers; and I am not for transferring all the powers of the States to the general government, nor all those of that government to the Executive branch.”

Now, the article’s proposed solution: “It’s an election, after all, that defused that first challenge to federal authority. Jefferson won the presidency and simply allowed the Alien and Sedition Acts to expire.”

This proposed solution eliminates the use of the checks and balances in the Constitution and quite literally promotes a dictatorship of the federal government. I suppose she believes that we can always vote out any dictator that centralizes too much power by passing unconstitutional laws. (wink, wink)

Toward the end this statement is made: “It’s hard to imagine what would happen politically if the Supreme Court sided with some states against Congress. The already severely frayed fabric of government would certainly be further torn apart. It’s far better to leave the health care debate in the arena of electoral politics — and for the losers to accept defeat. That’s the essence of democracy.”

Again, the suggestion is made to just accept the federal government’s decree even if unconstitutional. The thing that struck me here though was the “essence of democracy” concept. That may be how a democracy works, but that’s not how a Constitutional Republic works.

And one final thought, the justification for tossing the Constitution aside is based on a perceived fear of civil war. I would suggest to Cokie that she is confusing the symptom with the disease. The disease is a federal government that is passing unconstitutional laws without regards for life, liberty and property. Instead, she focuses on the response, which is merely a symptom of the disease. The response of course is a dedicated effort by “we the people” in conjunction with state governments to lawfully and constitutionally eliminate a major threat to liberty…  through adherence to the Constitution.

Bottom line: The Constitution and decentralized power limit the risk of civil war; centralized power in the federal government increases the risk. Freedom from unconstitutional laws leads to peace, servitude under coercive mandates does not.

Cokie, you’re cheering for the wrong team.

Brian Roberts is a long-time volunteer with the Texas TAC and a regular contributor to the Tenth Amendment Center website.

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9 Responses to “Abandon the Constitution to Save it?”

  1. […] law and ObamaCare, that we need to ignore parts of the Constitution to save the rest. According to this comment about her […]

  2. [...] and ObamaCare, that we need to ignore parts of the Constitution to save the rest.  According to this comment about her article, Toward the end this statement is made: “It’s hard to imagine what would [...]

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  5. greg55 says:

    There is no doubt in many americans mind that the Federal Government is far exceeding the powers granted them by the Constitution…there is very little doubt that if the Federal Government continues to pass and try to inforce unconstitutional laws that blood will be spilled accross this once great land….At lot depends on what the Supreem court will have to say in these matters…can we the people put our trust in a court that has shown repeatedly that they have no more respect for the Constitution or to the thousands of Americans who have died to defend the Constitution then the politicains that pass these laws?
    WE THE PEOPLE FOR TO LONG HAVE SAT BY AND LET THE POLITICAINS CHIP AWAY AT THE CONSTITUTION THE WAY THEY HAVE AND HAVE SAID NOTHING BECAUSE IT DIDN’T EFFECT US. WELL IT IS EFFECTING US ALL NOW…MY HAT GOES OFF TO THE STATES THAT HAVE THE FORESIGHT AND GUTS TO STAND UP AND SAY WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH, THIS LAW IS NOT GOING TO FLY AT LEAST NOT IN OUR STATE, AND I CAN ONLY HOPE AND PRAY THAT THE REST OF THE STATES WILL JOIN IN AND VOICE THERE OBJECTIONS TO THIS LAW AND REFUSE TO GIVE IN TO THREATS BY THE FEDS TO WITHHOLD FEDERAL FUNDING OR IMPOSE ANOTHER UNFAIR TAX ON PEOPLE WHO DON’T BUY HEALTH INSURANCEIF IF THEY DONT COMPLY…THE FEDS HAVE COUNTED ON THE STATES DESIRE FOR FEDERAL FUNDING FOR TO LONG AS A TOOL TO GET WHAT THEY WANTED…OR TAX THE PEOPLE INTO SUBMISSION….JUST LIKE THE FEDS USE FEDERAL AID TO OTHER COUNTRIES TO CONTROLL AND GET WHAT THEY WANT WORLD WIDE..
    IT’S TIME WE THE PEOPLE HAVE A SAY IN OUR GOVERNMENT AFTER ALL THE POLITICAINS WORK FOR US, WE DON’T WORK FOR THEM

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  8. KansasGirl says:

    I concur Mr. Roberts.

  9. Dan Felker says:

    Are you surprised that Cokie Roberts, a member of the liberal press is supporting this over reach of federal power? In my view these people have committed TREASON.

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