This is Constitution Week in America. We are “a nation of laws” and it is the US Constitution that makes us such. One of the great divides in America is over what the Constitution requires of the government and we the people. The historical division has been between strict and liberal construction. It’s like the Bible, is every word to be taken literally or are many things parables that set a general course of behavior?
Strict constructionists believe that if abortion isn’t mentioned in the original words it is then something the federal government has no control over. The 10th Amendment therefore gives the power over abortion to each state to decide for itself. Liberal constructionists believe the original work sets a basic framework that is meant to be flexible as time evolves. You see this in the 2nd Amendment fight over arms. The stricts believe they have a right to own any and all firearms while the liberals believe the authors of the Constitution would never have authorized the civilian ownership of today’s military style weapons.
What is or is not permitted under the Constitution is up to the federal courts system with the Supreme Court having the final say. They have the power to interpret the document’s meaning. Government can make law but the Constitution demands that law be Constitutional. It is the court’s job to determine that.
It is also required that the actions or behavior of government be permitted by the Constitution. A classic example is the Marshall Court ruling against Andrew Jackson’ wanting to remove the Cherokee Nation from its land. The court decided the Constitution wouldn’t allow it and Jackson responded with, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.” So, in defiance of the Court the Indians were removed and the Trail of Tears began.
What prompted this blog was having read an article providing at least three major examples of how the Constitution has, is, and probably will be, ignored in today’s era. A sort of Unconstitution thing. I think it’s one of those required reading things.