I once wrote a column asking if the Bill of Rights was irrelevant.
I will now change that question into a declarative statement
and say that the Constitution, although remaining the political
ideal of American freedom, has become realistically irrelevantmade
so by unprincipled politicians and apathetic Americans.
"No way colonel!" Read on, then you tell me.
Would it be fair to say that any code of law which is incrementally
ignored over the years, eventually becomes irrelevant? If
not "irrelevant", what do you call it when the
foundation of our country its fundamental principles
of freedom is increasingly ignored with arrogant impunity
by the governing body it was designed to rein in and a growing
number of citizens don't realize it or care?
Can you ignore parts of the concept upon which our country
was founded and still regard that concept as whole? No,
because to ignore part shows a political mind-set of disrespect
for constitutional law and inevitably leads to a disregard
of the whole document, eventually rendering the entire Constitution
irrelevant. If there is no respect for or strict enforcement
of all its principles, nor a price to be paid for its violation,
the entire concept will ultimately become meaningless. Simply
put, removing a brick here and there soon causes the structure
I'm no Constitutional authority and many lawyers will stringently
disagree, but so what. Below is just the simple view of
a simple soldier exemplifying what I consider to be a growing
and arrogant disregard for our basic principles of freedom.
I "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion or the prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech,
Where is the so-called separation of church and state that
our government has forcefully imposed on us, barring God
from public life? Who is the restricted party here if not
the government? It says, "Congress shall make no law
thus it's government that is the restricted element not
the citizens. Yet government actions have severely restricted
the citizenry where the free exercise thereof is concerned.
More recently, Congress and Bush blatantly abridged freedom
of speech when they jointly passed and signed the Campaign
Finance Reform Bill. Politics over sacred oath, honor and
principle is the norm these days and for this, I will never
forgive Bush or Congress. The First has been ignored.
the right of the people to keep and bear
arms, shall not be infringed."
This amendment has been violated over 20,000 times. Laws
prohibiting selected weapons, magazine capacities, rates
of fire, barrel lengths, permits and regulations that restrict
or prohibit our ability to buy, keep and bear arms are infringementsplain
and simple. The Second has been ignored.
IV "The right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures..."
Was Elian secure in his house or the Branch Davidians in
theirs? How about the so-called "Patriot Act"
that gives the Federal government unprecedented power and
license to violate your privacy? The Fourth has been ignored.
nor shall private property be taken for
public use, without just compensation."
Consider the power of the Environmental Protection Agency
or the Endangered Species Act. Have a section of your property
declared a wetland or find some animal on it that is listed
as an "Endangered Species" and see how private
your property really is. Then ask the Klamath Falls farmers
about just compensation. The Fifth has been ignored.
X "The powers not delegated to the United States
by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States,
are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
What about the Departments of Education, Energy, Housing
and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and the
billions given away in foreign aid? Where in the Constitution
does it empower or authorize the government to do any of
this? Nowhere, yet government has tremendous control over
your life in areas never envisioned by the founders or delegated
by the Constitution. The Tenth has been ignored.
XIV "No state shall make or enforce any law which
shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of
the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person
of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;
nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
protection of the laws."
Legalized discrimination, a.k.a. affirmative action, violates
the 14th Amendment's "equal protection under the law"
clause. The Supreme Court's decision regarding the University
of Michigan case stating that race can indeed be used as
admission criteria is only a recent example in a long line
of government's blatant disregard for our plain speaking
Constitution. The Fourteenth has been ignored.
The day we apathetically allowed government to expand its
power beyond clearly specified constitutional limits and
rationalized it with some feel good excuse for the sake
of convenience or perceived security was the day we started
down this slippery slope a slope from which we will
never recover until the slope itself is gone.
Today government regularly violates the principles of freedom
guaranteed by our Constitution with virtual impunity and
arrogance. Those examples cited above are but a very few
of the very many.
Politicians are driven by a "whatever you can get
away with" philosophy. The only time you will hear
them reference the Constitution as a restrictive document
is when they need to hide behind its principles to protect
themselves or as an excuse for inaction or twisting its
meaning to convey that which it strictly and obviously forbidsfreedom
"from" religion in place of freedom "of"
religion for example.
In fact, modern day Americans routinely expect such stepping
over the constitutional line or they accuse Congress of
being a "do nothing" body. Considering the aftermath
of the alternative, I much prefer "do nothing"
Historically, this slide is the natural progression of
government as I've written about before and as Jefferson
himself described when he said, "The natural progress
of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain
How does this natural progression begin? With "common
sense" regulation of this or that and then, once having
gained a toehold, it incrementally eats away at our freedom
with the passage of each bit of new "common sense"
legislation. Jefferson was a savvy man who warned us of
this long ago.
Our founders knew what they were talking about because
they lived through oppression and were divinely inspired
to create a Constitution based on the pre-eminence of individual
freedom served by small, limited, subordinated government,
not dominated by a controlling behemoth.
We've slid a long way into the pit of freedoms lost since
our original Constitution was ratified. I'd venture to say
that America is so far down the hill that we could no longer
recognize the top if we saw it.
Sadly, most Americans these days don't care about the top
of the hill, how far down we've come or even the hill itself.
If Americans truly cared, they would be up in arms over
just the few violations cited above.
The hard fact is, the majority of Americans today don't
care who has the power and authority, just so they don't
have the responsibility real freedom requires. The personal
responsibility that comes with traditional liberty would
likely scare the daylights out of most modern Americans.
So now you tell me. Can a credible argument be made that
the Constitution has become irrelevant when the government
it was designed to rein in routinely ignores its principles
with arrogant impunity, pays lip service to following its
precepts while an increasing preponderance of the governed,
whose rights it was designed to protect, don't realize it
That'd certainly be the view from my saddle
TREAD ON ME