June 28, 2012
Thomas Jefferson once wrote that “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” And then he added: “As yet our spirits are free.”
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Arizona immigration case earlier this week, followed by the stunning Obamacare decision today, we have witnessed an acceleration of what would more appropriately be deemed a natural regression. Government, with a capital “G”, has gained dramatic ground at the expense of human liberty. If we stand here idle, even our spirits will not be free for long.
As a consequence of this morning's Obamacare ruling, there are no longer any limits to what the federal government can tax, and therefore no activity or behavior which it cannot regulate.
Think upon that for a moment.
The Roberts Court saw fit to uphold Congress’ 2010 decision to tax every citizen who refuses to purchase health insurance. The Supreme Court’s holding would confound the authors of the Constitution, who were animated by a healthy recognition of the dangers of an all-powerful central government. Clearly, that same fear of centralized power is not shared by today's ruling class and a minority of the electorate.
Although this decision will significantly increase the likelihood of an electoral landslide defeat for Obama and many Democrats this November and the eventual repeal of Obamacare, the legal precedent has been set. How long will it be, then, before some pol suggests a tax for anyone who does not drive a smart car or demands that a fine be levied against parents who are blessed with more than one child?
In my estimation, the only way to limit this precedent and assure that it wreaks no further havoc upon individual liberty is to Amend the Constitution, thereby giving very clear direction to the courts and redefining (oh would that it were not necessary!) the limits to federal power.
Off the top of my head, perhaps something along the lines of: Congress shall have no power to mandate or compel the purchase of any item or service nor to lay or collect taxes or penalties or anything in the nature of a penalty from any person who refuses to purchase such item or service. That can be vetted, of course, but you get the point. Yesterday, I never would have imagined such a thing necessary, but when a philosophically conservative Chief Justice goes out of his way to expand federal power far beyond what was contemplated by our Founders, we are left with little choice but to be emphatically clear.
The Executive Branch handed it off. The Legislative Branch ran it into the endzone and spiked the football with that giant cartoonish Gavel. And now, upon further review, the Judicial Branch just upheld the score, despite plain and convincing evidence that the Legislative Branch had stepped out of bounds – several times – en route to the endzone.
Constitutional Amendments should, of course, be pursued with prudence and only as a last resort. But our Founders were wise enough to envision the necessity of Amendments from time to time and provided such a process as part of their grand design. My study of the Founders informs me that virtually all of them would agree that this is one of those seminal moments in our history when a Constitutional Amendment is necessary and appropriate to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. After all, if a Constitutional Amendment gave us the income tax, hence dramatically increasing the power of the federal government, surely a Constitutional Amendment is warranted to re-limit the federal government to its proper size and role.
The necessity of acquiring ratification by 2/3 of the States is no easy task, of course, which is why it is imperative that we proceed with all deliberateness. And the wording and scope of such Amendment must be simple and precise.
Defeat Obama and the Democrats in 2012? Yes! Repeal Obamacare? Yes! Continue to raise up, teach, and elect a virtuous people worthy of public service and loyal to maintaining our Constitutional Republic? Absolutely yes!
But if ever the political winds were in favor of pursuing a Constitutional Amendment to restrain the power of the federal government, it is now. If we hope for this American body to regain its original capabilities and intended design, we must promptly re-set the bones of limited government while our wounds are fresh and the break is clean. Slowness of purpose will allow those bones to re-fuse in form ugly and incapable of anything resembling its original Constitutional function.
If we content ourselves with winning this election, repealing Obamacare, and placing our hope in some future court to overturn its own bad precedent, our chains are already forged. And we will have failed our responsibility to this and future generations.
Speaking for freedom, I am