You have often heard we are a “nation of laws and not of men.” The words are attributable to John Adams and, while the concept can be found in ancient Greek culture, humankind didn’t take it for a meaningful spin until our Constitution was ratified in 1788. Otherwise known as “The Rule of Law,” it has enjoyed a very good ride, paid for by the lifeblood of over 1.3 million of our military. But, what is it and how much is it worth to us, the beneficiaries of their sacrifice?
For thousands of years prior to our founding, humanity had lived under the rule of kings of one sort or another, but our Founders initiated a new experiment whereby people would attempt to rule themselves “under law.” “The maxim states that men should not be trusted to rule others unless their rule is tempered by fixed laws that prevent tyranny, laws that prevent individuals from accumulating wealth by force, laws that prevent those in high office from exercising power over the populace without restraint, laws that prevent the majority from acting without a due regard for the rights and well-being of individuals, laws that prevent the powerful from plundering the weak.”
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (Democrat and early leader of the progressive movement in America) said: “Our government...teaches the whole people by its example...If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.” Olmstead v. United States (1928).
Dateline: November 5, 2013.
Interrogator: Journalist Ed Henry.
Interrogatee: Jay Carney, the highest official spokesperson for President Obama, the self-proclaimed “most transparent” President in the history of the United States...period.
Question: When the President speaks to the American people, doesn’t his credibility matter?
Incredibly, Jay Carney could not find it within himself to utter the only rational response to such a simple question. In order to have any hope of maintaining some reasonable degree of credibility, one would think that even Jay Carney could somehow contort his vocal chords into producing a sound that at least rhymed with “y-e-s.”
Call it deception, negligence, ineptness, inexperience, denial or fraud, watching this President attempt to blame the predictably greatest domestic blunder in our history upon Republicans who did put forth alternatives to solve the problem of the uninsured, were denied a seat at the table of compromise at every turn, and who predicted Obamacare would seriously damage our economy without solving the admitted problem, is like watching a fire being doused with gasoline. Obamacare will shortly prove to forcibly uninsure far more of the heretofore insured than it will serve to insure the previously uninsured.
I contend, however, that we have more serious problems facing us than the immediacy of this debacle. First, we have far too many in our nation who simply do not or will not pay attention to preserving blood bought freedom unless and until government action directly affects their own pocketbook. No time for their neighbor’s freedom or for the loss of freedoms unrelated to money. For example, the unions were the biggest proponent of this President’s legacy legislation. They were, in fact, key to its passage. Now, when they see their own ox getting gored, they want the President to pull out his pen and, once again, take it upon himself to unconstitutionally amend the Affordable Care Act to exclude them from its impact, just as he has already unconstitutionally excluded Congress.
Second, the wisdom of the Framers in crafting a balance of power that would best insure the pursuit of happiness for a free people is seemingly no longer recognized by the masses as relevant today. The Constitution is not outdated. It has not failed us. We have failed to insist that our government live within its constraints – within The Rule of Law.
When some Republicans attempted to work within The Rule of Law by repealing, then defunding, then amending Obamacare, the President, his party and the media were quick to criticize. They said: “After all, the Affordable Care Act was duly passed and confirmed by the Supreme Court – IT’S THE LAW.” But, folks, today’s Obamacare does not resemble the Affordable Care Act that Nancy Pelosi, her party and the President pole-vaulted over the bar of democracy to get passed and, at this rate, it won’t resemble the Obamacare of tomorrow. What this administration is attempting to foist upon us IS NOT THE LAW. No, the President has unconstitutionally amended this law on his own too many times to mention while his party sits on their hands even as Rome burns.
I agree with Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark (Democrat and former Attorney General) when he said: “Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.” Mapp v. Ohio (1961). I believe we are experiencing that destruction because we have permitted the Rule of Men to prevail over the Rule of Law. We have watched freedom go up in flames because far too many value free telephones, free contraceptives – free anything - more than freedom itself which apparently can be sold at a very cheap price, or so it seems.
You can download and read the ELLionized opinion in Mapp v. Ohio (and discover what that means) by clicking on case number “4A-15” on the “Supreme Court Decisions” page of our website at www.ellconstitutionclubs.com. While you’re there, join our mailing list. Our free newsletter will keep you informed.
Tad Armstrong is an Edwardsville, Illinois, lawyer, founder of ELL Constitution Clubs (www.ellconstitutionclubs.com) and author of “It’s OK to Say ‘God.’”