July 7, 2015

Constitution meant to be followed

United States Supreme Court

RUBE RENDER is the Curry County Republican Chairman and a local columnist with the Clovis News Journal.

Early in the history of our country, the framers of the Constitution took the position that unless that document specifically authorized Congress to pass proposed legislation, they could not act, even if the legislation served a noble purpose.

This situation was illustrated in 1794 when Congress wished to provide funding to French refugees from the Haitian Revolution. James Madison famously stated, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

Over the years, amendments have been proposed and ratified to correct existing disparities and injustices. Among these are the 15th and the 19th Amendments.

The 15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African American men the right to vote and the 19th Amendment granted American women the right to vote.

For some time now, rather than allowing the amendment process to run its course, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken upon itself the responsibility to find new rights heretofore undiscovered in the constitution.

Among these rights are the right to privacy first discerned by Justice William O. Douglas when he wrote in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) that the right was to be found in the “penumbras” and “emanations” of other constitutional protections.

This decision resulted in Roe v. Wade (1973), when the court ruled that a right to privacy extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion.

Not to be outdone by Justice Douglas, Justice Anthony Kennedy in Obergefell v. Hodges now finds that petitioners “ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Thus does same-sex marriage become the law of the land and Evangelicals and Catholics everywhere are being reviled as bigots. Already the headlines are proclaiming, “If Your church is Bigoted, it Should Pay Taxes.”

Whether you agree with abortion and same-sex marriage or not, you have to agree that neither of these can be found in the U.S. Constitution. Privacy and dignity may indeed be admirable concepts we should all strive to allow our fellow man, but I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution that authorized Congress a right to impose them on the American people.

Before the year is out a suit will be brought against a church for refusing to marry same-sex couples. This will precipitate a constitutional crisis requiring the wisdom of Solomon. Alas, I fear we are cursed with a confederacy of dunces who will decide the question.