In the political fight over just about any area of domestic policy in the United States, two issues command the spotlight; the role of the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) and the extent of federal authority, as opposed to states’ rights. Interpretation of both the First and Second Amendments, transgender rights and the imminent nomination of a Supreme Court Justice are all hot topics that promise to keep reporters, pundits and concerned citizens awake for many a night to come.
It is, of course, all a matter of one’s understanding – or perception – of the U.S. Constitution; the words, the original intent and how much either is open to interpretation.
The United States Constitution bestows upon the federal government certain responsibilities and authority in particular areas – a very limited number of spheres. The Tenth Amendment bestows all other rights and authority upon the states and the people.
There are people on both sides of the political divide who tend to demonstrate a certain amount of hypocrisy in their view of states’ rights. Whilst most Conservatives argue in favor of states being able to legislate without interference from Washington, few of them had a problem with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which laid down a federal definition of marriage; something that was wholly outside of its constitutional purview. DOMA should always have been left to state legislatures to define (if, indeed, marriage should be legislated at all – but that’s another story).
Liberals and progressives – who lean toward more power being vested in the federal government – are even more prone to bending the intent of the Constitution when it suits them. The establishment clause of the First Amendment is a classic example. Even though this clause could not be more clear or well-defined and prevents Congress from promoting – through legislation – any one specific religion, the left has decided to wildly extrapolate the intent to the point where the reciting of Christian prayer at some public high school in the Midwest is deemed unconstitutional.
Were that same standard to be applied to the Second Amendment, then no state or local government would be allowed to forbid the open carry of firearms, or even the unlicensed carry of concealed firearms, since these prohibitions are clear infringements of the right to keep and bear arms and, therefore, unconstitutional.
This week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer found himself pressed on the issue of the Trump administration’s approach to transgender rights. This is a policy area that absolutely should be dealt with at the state level, and Spicer was repeatedly forced to make the point that President Trump sees it that way.
The interpretation the liberal media will undoubtedly apply is that, in refusing to create a federal standard on the transgender rights issue, Trump has no interest in protecting these people. Herein lies the willful misinterpretation of the Constitution; if the federal administration doesn’t lay down the law, it must be because the issue is not worth the effort since all issues of real importance cannot just be left to the states. That leftist, central government notion, however, disregards the entire concept of a republic and, indeed, the bedrock of the Constitution itself.
Both Republican and Democratic administrations have presided over a federal government that has consumed more legislative and regulatory power than ever, beyond anything that was originally intended. Many of the Founding Fathers predicted this and would likely be horrified at how far the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution have been stretched. And one wonders just how much farther the left can stretch it before this historic document’s intent and words are shattered into a million little pieces.