Monday, September 6, 2010

"Nero At His Worst"

"This is Nero at his worst. As for the Constitution, it does not seem too much to say that it is gone. "

Justice James McReynolds
in his opinion on the Roosevelt Administration's Gold Policy

Justice McReynolds' indictment against Roosevelt rings true today. Every time we turn around government grows bigger and we lose a little more liberty. The Constitution was painstakingly crafted to protect "we the people" from the government. But somewhere along the line, something went seriously awry. And, based on my read of history, a good deal of it began with FDR.

Return with me for a moment to Amity Shlaes' remarkable history of the Great Depression: The Forgotten Man.

Frances Perkins of Labor was worried that the Supreme Court would reject the social insurance system she working to put in place--what we know today as Social Security. She stated her concern to Justice Harlan Stone who advised: "The taxing power of the federal government, my dear; the taxing power is sufficient for everything you want and need" (Shlaes229). His words were meant to assure. If the Social Security Act was formulated as a tax rather than a government insurance program it would clear the Constitutional hurdle (229).
Fast forward: This is now one of the tact's the Obama Administration is taking in response to the many lawsuits against ObamaCare. Flimsy at best. But, more importantly, right out of the playbook.
In the famous Schechter Brothers case, where the justices ruled unanimously in favor of the Schechter Poultry Corporation and against the constitutionality of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA), Justice Hughes read the opinion: "Extraordinary conditions may call for extraordinary remedies. But the argument necessarily stops short of an attempt to justify action which lies outside the sphere of constitutional authority. Extraordinary conditions do not create or enlarge constitutional power" (emphasis mine, 242).

The corruption of the Constitution had gone far enough. Too far.

Justice Brandeis sent the message to FDR via two of the New Dealers' lawyers: "This is the end of this business of centralization, and I want you to go back and tell the president that we're not going to let this government centralize everything. It's come to an end" (243).

Roosevelt's response? To "castigate the press and the court" (244). Sound eerily familiar?

If congressional Republicans do not understand they are enjoying a tidal wave of support in their direction because the population overwhelmingly desires repeal of ObamaCare and the government's sudden lurch to the left, they will squander the greatest opportunity to preserve what's left of the Constitution in the history of this country. According to yesterday's Rasmussen polling 57% of Americans disapprove of the President's performance. 47% strongly disapprove. The numbers are remarkable to be sure. Additionally, 56% of likely voters favor repeal of ObamaCare though only 39% believe repeal is likely.

Republicans need to muster up the courage to do the right thing. They need to send the message that the American people are fed up. That "we're not going to let this government centralize everything."


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