The Heart of Liberty

flag2“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”  Charles de Montesquieu

The American Socialist movement has shown nothing but utter contempt toward the Constitution, natural law, America’s sacred traditions, and in this case the separation of powers doctrine that the Framers borrowed from the writings of French philosopher Charles de Montesquieu’s, The Spirit of Law, 1748.  The left is concerned only in deconstructing the Constitution to amass more political powers unto itself.

Excessive regulations, since Teddy Roosevelt decreed millions of acres of private property to the federal government during his conservation revolution in the early 1900s and FDR’s New Deal welfare programs of the 1930s and 40s, were an effective way to achieve power over our lives.

Socialism is deceptively simple – control the economics and the courts and you control the people and the laws.  Control the people and the laws and you have absolute power.

Many on the left argue that the Constitution is outdated because it addresses problems peculiar to the eighteenth century.   Consider the injunction against titles of nobility in article nine, section one, preventing the bestowal of special privileges by the government.  Special privileges bestowed by the governing power strike at the heart of  a free society which is based on the rule of law.  Crony capitalism, whereby government bestows favors and tax dollars on some,  gives these privileged few a leg up over others and is a striking example of what the Constitution was meant to prohibit as well as a striking example of why our Constitution is not outdated.

Laissez-faire or conservative economists oppose crony capitalism equating government favors as a perversion of true free market capitalism.  Laissez-faire supporters criticize crony capitalism as an ideologically motivated attempt to cast what is, in their view, the fundamental problem of government intervention or investments as an avoidable aberration.  Free-market advocates refer to governmental favoritism as crony socialism, venture socialism, or corporatism, a modern form of mercantilism, to emphasize that the only way to run a profitable business in such systems is to have help from corrupt government officials who are open to bribery.  Armies of D.C. lobbyists lauded hundreds of billions annually to control government legislation in their favor.

There is much confusion about the relationship of the three branches of government, especially among many who are in that government.  Some think the judiciary sits atop the other two branches – legislative and executive.  Others think the president sits above Congress and the courts.   In fact, all three branches are equally accountable to the Constitution and therefore, to the people.

All the people’s representatives in government are accountable to the Constitution, and therein lies our liberty.  The president, members of Congress, and federal judges all take an oath to the Constitution.  In making laws, Congress must adhere to the Constitution.  In executing the laws, the president must abide by the Constitution.  In interpreting the laws, judges are bound by the Constitution.

Constitutionally speaking it is both misleading and wrong to ask the question: ‘Which is the most powerful branch of government?  The Framers ‘original intent’  placed enumerated powers in each branch that were in their sole domain and from which the other two branches held no power or sovereignty outside the blackletter text of the Constitution.  An existential Constitutional crisis is precipitated when one branch of government bleeds over into the others’ domain.’

The most infamous example of this is Chief Justice John Marshall’s majority opinion in Marbury v Madison, 1803, which created a new doctrine  called judicial review whereby the Supreme Court claimed for itself “the province and the duty… to say what the law is” and made the judiciary, originally the weakest of the three branches of government, into what Jefferson called, “the despotism of an oligarchy [of five].”  This judicial tyranny to a large degree caused the collapse of our federalist system of government.

Every president, every member of Congress, every judge and every Supreme Court Justice has vowed, at pains of impeachment, “to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Members of Congress and federal judges take an oath to the Constitution, but the Constitution prescribes the exact words of the oath of office only for the president.  The American presidency was a new and powerful office created at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  Nothing like it existed in any other government in history.  The office was designed to allow certain virtues, decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch, thought to be essential to executive power, especially in a crisis.  But despite this immense power, the power is not so powerful as the Constitution itself.  That is exactly why the president must pledge to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and why it is the duty of the people to make sure they do so.

Many in Washington have grown so accustomed to centralized bureaucracy that they think of Federalism as an old-fashioned, kind of like fife and drum music.  Those who wrote the Constitution saw Federalism as a vital principle of free government in a large republic.   The division of power between the Federal government, state governments, and local governments,  serves as an important protection against tyranny.

The Founders understood that while the Federal government is essential for national matters such as foreign policy and defense, the governments closer to the people were far better suited to oversee local matters.  As we have seen in the problems caused from centralized bureaucracy today, there is nothing out-of-date about the Founders argument for Federalism.  In order for our Constitution to survive, we must return to doctrines of our political forefathers.  We must re-embrace federalism, judicial restraint, and states’ rights.

In “Federalist No. 46,” James Madison asserted that the states and national government “are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers.”  Alexander Hamilton, writing in Federalist no. 28, suggested that both levels of government would exercise authority to the citizens’ benefit:
“If their [the people’s] rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress.”

In conclusion, it is the deception, duplicity and tyranny of the Democrat Socialist Party with their willing lackeys, the RINO establishment,  who have done great harm to lowering our education levels and perverting our understanding of the Constitution by dividing and conquering “We the People,” rather than standing on principle, following the original intent of the Framers.

Dr. Larry Arnn, constitutional scholar and president of Hilldale College.

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