Limits on the judiciary are needed to reflect constitutional restraints

FILE/Associated Press People stand on the steps of the Supreme Court at sunset in Washington, D.C.

By Dee Stafford

 

Guest Columnist

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In his book Liberty Amendments, Mark Levin wrote:

“I undertook this project not because I believe the Constitution, as originally structured, is outdated and outmoded, thereby requiring modernization through amendments, but because of the opposite – that is, the necessity and urgency of restoring constitutional republicanism and preserving the civil society from the growing authoritarianism of a federal Leviathan.”

The Founders would be outraged to learn how the federal government has expanded and encroached into every aspect of our lives – from the type of light bulbs we are allowed to use to the amount of water our toilets are allowed to flush.

The federal government no longer treats the states as sovereign entities and the citizens as masters, but the states as provinces and the people as serfs.

The abuses by the federal government are not merely the result of bad policy but are driving us to the age of soft tyranny. We must stop these abuses or run the risk of becoming no more than “a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” (Alexander de Tocqueville, Democracy in America)

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The two most-often mentioned proposed amendments have been term limits and balanced budget amendments.

There are many in Congress who have become so fossilized they believe they are entitled to their positions to the point that there have been some senators who no longer own a home in their home states. There are more than 80 people in Congress who have been there longer than 20 years; six have been there over 40 years; and at least eight longer than 36 years.

John Conyers, D-Mich., has been in the House 53 years. But the honor for the longest House tenure was John Dingell Jr., D-Mich., who retired in 2014 with 59 years in the House.

His father, John Dingell Sr., served in the same seat from 1933 to 1955, when his son was elected to follow him. In 2014, Dingell’s 60-year-old wife was elected to his seat, and could serve until 2033 – at which time she would be in her 70s and the seat would have been in the Dingell family for 100 years!

An amendment to balance the budget has been before Congress numerous times, and the most recent times it has passed the House and failed in the Senate by one vote. The most recent attempts were in 1995 and 1997.

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Today, most laws are not made in Congress, but in Executive Branch regulatory agencies that also enforce these laws and hear and adjudicate disputes, to include fines, concerning these laws – which is a Judicial Branch function.

Congress ceded its powers to govern when it disregarded Article I Section 8 and took on duties beyond the ability of Congress to govern. As this occurred, Congress had no choice but to “delegate” authority to the “administrative state,” turning Congress into the chief “customer service agency” for the administrative state, which lobbies the administrative state on our behalf.

As the administrative state mushroomed, it ruled not only over “the people” but also Congress as well.

With this system of government we have today with these hundreds of agencies, the three branches of government are in essence consolidated under these agencies, and are not the three branches as laid out in the Constitution.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist Papers that the judiciary would be the least dangerous of the three branches because it had limited power under the Constitution. He was so wrong. The Anti-Federalists recognized the potential threat of judicial tyranny when they wrote in Anti-Federalist Papers 78-79:

“The supreme court under the constitution would be exalted above all power in the government, and subject to no control. … But the judges under the constitution will control the legislature, for the supreme court are authorised in the last resort, to determine what is the extent of the power of Congress. They are to give the constitution and explanation, and there is no power above them to set aside their judgement … which indeed transcends any power given to a judiciary by any free government under heaven.”

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We are being ruled by an oligarchy of nine unelected, life-tenured people in black who have taken it upon themselves to create positions unsupported by the original textual interpretation of the Constitution. We have Justice Ginsberg, who does not believe the Constitution of the United States should be the model for a country desiring to write a new constitution, believing instead United Nations documents would be more appropriate.

Some justices look to foreign laws for guidance for a position for which they can’t find justification in our Constitution.

It’s time to put term limits on members of the Supreme Court, as well as mechanisms to override their currently unlimited power.

Next will be an explanation of the procedures and operations of the Convention of States.

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The writer lives in Augusta.

 

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