Devotion – or, at least, obedience – to the Constitution is so at the core of what it means to be American that even many of its enemies are forced to pretend to revere the founding document. For those who believe as the Founders and Framers did, it has shielded the people, sometimes more effectively than others, for 234 years. Always it has faced attacks – most disguised as “modern interpretations” of a “living document” – but, from time to time, a regime settles in for a long siege, attempting to either shove aside or rewrite entirely this foundation of freedom. Such appears to be the case, sadly, with the Biden administration. So, on Constitution Day 2021, with the current president having held the reins now for eight months, a question must be asked: How fares the founding document?
Shots Fired at the Second
Before even being elected president, candidate Joe Biden revealed his first intended attack on the Constitution – or, more specifically, its Second Amendment. Should the president accomplish all, or even most, of the goals he set in “The Biden Plan to End Our Gun Violence Epidemic,” it could easily be called his magnum opus – a perfect capstone for a blatantly anti-gun political career.
The Second Amendment reads:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
The language doesn’t seem to leave much room for clever interpretation – at least not to one who takes the founding documents to mean today what they meant when written. Still, the Biden campaign apparently figured out a “common-sense” way to restrict the right to keep and bear arms without actually infringing it. “It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited. As president, Biden will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies,” the plan declares. No doubt these will be just as constitutional as the rest of the federal firearms regulations – that is to say, not at all, according to a strict reading.
Early on in his presidency, Biden created a mask mandate by executive order. Though it only applied to federal land, many considered this an overreach. So if a taxpaying citizen – one of the 143 million or so who collectively “own” all government property – decides not to wear a mask, will this person be forced off the land, fined, or arrested?
He also floated ideas like monitoring private text messages for “misinformation” and going door-to-door to “convince” people to get vaccinated. These resulted in pushback, of course, as people all along the political spectrum balked at the idea of the president’s lackeys showing up at the door or sifting through private text messages.
More recently, the president revealed a six-point plan for the continuing COVID crisis. As Liberty Nation’s Kelli Ballard pointed out in her analysis, Biden’s plan targets about 80 million unvaccinated working Americans – and holds their jobs ransom. For federal employees and contractors, he simply demands it. The president also threatened to financially starve those schools and health care facilities that rely on federal funding but refuse to implement a mask mandate, despite the fact that Congress holds the power of the purse. He has a plan for everyone else, too. Biden has directed the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to come up with an emergency regulation that would force any employer with 100 or more workers to fire anyone who refuses to get the vaccine. Should they resist? With a nearly $14,000 fine per non-compliant employee, who could afford to resist for long? Numerous Republican governors and attorneys general plan to sue, but Biden claims he has the authority to simply “get them out of the way.”
A Problem of Perception
Does the Constitution allow the president to declare mask, social distancing, lockdown, or vaccine mandates – to force American citizens to comply with draconian restrictions and surrender the sovereignty of their own bodies? Is there a way to continue infringing on the right of the people to keep and bear arms that doesn’t violate the Second Amendment’s crystal clear meaning?
To one who believes the founding documents should be read as the authors wrote them, the answer is a resounding no. But the problem with those who oppose the constitutional limitations on government authority is one of perception. And make no mistake: Though few would ever admit it, this constant straining against the wording of the Constitution – this constant need for novel reinterpretation – is precisely that, opposition to the constitutional protections of the people against the government. The Constitution is seen by many as a “living document.” To these folks, it holds a dynamic, fluid meaning that evolves and adapts – without formal amendment, mind you – to new circumstances and social mores.
Language evolves; that much is true. But does this mean the original intent behind the written word can be reinterpreted every few decades or so? According to many on the left and in the Democratic Party: Yes, it can – but only when doing so works out in favor of whatever their argument happens to be. And even the meanings they backed previously don’t have to apply once new circumstances come up. Indeed, even the living document vs. originalism argument needs no consistency, as far as they’re concerned. David A. Strauss, professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, called originalism “wrongheaded” back in 2010, but then made it clear he only meant that consistent originalism was wrongheaded.
“Also, as a matter of rhetoric, everyone is an originalist sometimes: when we think something is unconstitutional – say, widespread electronic surveillance of American citizens – it is almost always a reflex to say something to the effect that ‘the Founding Fathers’ would not have tolerated it,” he wrote. “And there are times, although few of them in my view, when originalism is the right way to approach a constitutional issue. But when it comes to difficult, controversial constitutional issues, originalism is a totally inadequate approach.” The question is, of course, who decides when it’s appropriate and when it isn’t?
If this seems inconsistent and illogical, keep in mind these people have no objective truth to honor, aside from “whatever I want is right” and “the ends always justify the means.” But with each new interpretation of the government-citizen dynamic – especially those that result in pulling a new power out of some vaguely worded section – the Constitution is stretched a bit thinner.
Read more from James Fite.
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