Slate writer tries to decode Christine O’Donnell’s view of the Constitution, fails

This post is not about Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, rather I want to quickly point out how the media – even a journalist who almost exclusively writes about legal issues – can push their own version of the Constitution, rolling their eyes as they talk down to the misguided conservative minions out there. You’re all weird.

I guess I’m one of the misguided minions, but I’m comfortable with the constitutional law experts I stand with. As an editor for Newsweek and Slate, Dahlia Lithwick covers mostly legal issues for the publications, has a law degree from Stanford University, and is a Canadian citizen. I will certainly not hold that last part against her.

In a different type of post at Slate, Lithwick publishes a note written to Emily Bazelon and Hanna Rosin. Don’t worry about the full context of the letter, I don’t want the conversation to drift. Let’s specifically look at the first paragraph, with my emphasis in bold.

Emily, I have been fascinated by Christine O’Donnell’s constitutional worldview since her debate with her opponent Chris Coons last week. O’Donnell explained that “when I go to Washington, D.C., the litmus test by which I cast my vote for every piece of legislation that comes across my desk will be whether or not it is constitutional.” How weird is that, I thought. Isn’t it a court’s job to determine whether or not something is, in fact, constitutional? And isn’t that sort of provided for in, well, the Constitution? In 2003, O’Donnell said of the Supreme Court that “it’s kind of like we have the nine people sitting there in Washington who have a constitutional monarchy and that is an abuse of the system.” So I do wonder a little whether she’s claiming that her view of what’s constitutional trumps theirs. Not a lot of space for checks and balances in that reading.

First off, as I mentioned in a post yesterday, the congress-critters all swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Lithwick directly implies constitutional interpretation is the exclusive domain of the Supreme Court. Although SCOTUS clearly interprets the Constitution as it pertains to cases brought before them, the responsibility of interpreting this founding document belongs to all of us … including legislative leaders sent by states and districts to represent us in Washington D.C.

My point. The media is part of the national problem developed during the past 80 years – the incremental shift of power from the states and people to the federal government. The nine in robes are in no way better than us or more wise. To suggest their view of what’s constitutional trumps O’Donnell’s view – or our own view – is quite arrogant. Their job is to interpret the Constitution as it pertains to specific cases brought before them. That’s it.

What Lithwick misses – as do most liberal politicians and followers – is that McDonnell, conservatives, TEA Party members, and libertarians all have the same solid Constitutional foundation even if they stumble when presenting their case. The federal government has grown too large, become too intrusive and funds federal projects, programs and initiatives that are unconstitutional at their core.

This statement of fact, sends liberals into a lunatic frenzy on a regular basis. You’ve seen elected representatives – both Democrats and Republican – on video specifically reminding voters there are a lot of things the federal government does that is not listed in the Constitution. That’s the problem … the disease of which all symptoms derive. Many are not all that concerned with the founding document.

Your answer – and the Constitution’s answer – is to allow the individual states and the people to determine if funding those projects, programs and initiatives are worthwhile. I bet every entitlement program at the federal level is already duplicated at the state level. I’m serious! (Think health care…)

Why not just grow the state-based programs – if the state and the people really want it – and eliminate the federal departments all together? Of course, tax revenue at the state level would necessarily increase if the people want the programs … and I can tell you honestly I think most conservatives and quite a few libertarians would be OK with that. They may well move to another state, but at least they have the option.

Can you imagine the competition between the 50 states to come up with the most effective social program or initiative? It would be totally awesome. Some may elect a more socialist approach with the state legislature acting as the central planning committee. Some may choose a more capitalist/strong libertarian approach, leaving most decisions to business and individuals while providing reasonable regulatory rules.

Let’s give it a try shall we? November is the time to start the process and I’m not saying “change” will happen over night, or even within the next decade. It will be a incremental change that may take decades … it’s not easy to “change” a countries ingrained culture of dependency on the federal government.

For those of you who read most of my stuff, you may find my posts becoming a bit repetitive. Sorry, but I strongly believe the disease must be cured. I’m going to keep pounding and writing posts like this in the hope you forward each one of them to your friends, families and co-workers (if you wish). I’m using current events, news articles and other blog posts as analogies to bring up the topic on a regular basis … and I will continue to do so.

8 replies
  1. Bolder63
    Bolder63 says:

    "For those of you who read most of my stuff, you may find my posts becoming a bit repetitive. Sorry, but I strongly believe the disease must be cured. I’m going to keep pounding and writing posts like this in the hope you forward each one of them to your friends, families and co-workers (if you wish). I’m using current events, news articles and other blog posts as analogies to bring up the topic on a regular basis … and I will continue to do so."

    You just keep writing it Steve, we need to hear it as much as possible to balance out the biased liberal noise that beats on us everyday.

  2. April Lynn
    April Lynn says:

    Your main point and others in this article are great and without a doubt, spot on.  Keep on being repetitive, most are listening and have already woke up to the bias liberal media who wouldn't even dare to point out the truth.  Enjoyed the article, looking forward to many more.

  3. Odonna
    Odonna says:

    As Lincoln said in his first Inaugural about the Dred Scott decision, if the people leave it to the Supreme Court to determine what is constitutional, then they have abdicated their sovereignty.  We have allowed this mentality to prevail and be taught in the schools for too long.  We have allowed the Supreme Court to "amend" the Constitution by elastic interpretation, and to allow Congress and the President to do almost whatever they've wanted to do for too long.  Keep writing, Steve. 

  4. NH-Jim
    NH-Jim says:

    "How weird is that, I thought.  Isn't it the court's job to determine whether or not something is, in fact, constitutional?"

    "Well, How weird is that," I think to myself.  "Is it the court's job to legislate from the bench?"

  5. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    I think the statement "“How weird is that, I thought.  Isn’t it the court’s job to determine whether or not something is, in fact, constitutional?” is the core of the problem in Congress today: the Congress' job is not to just write legislation and throw it against the judicial wall and see if it sticks.  They are supposed to consider and consult the Constitution as they write their legislation (or whoever does, as in the case of the Øbamacare legislation).  That is their job, and as Steve points out, their oath.  The SCOTUS is supposed to be the avenue of last resort, not the filter through which all legislation passes.


    The ignorance of the writer simply makes O'Donnell look perfectly acceptable, at least to anyone that has a clue.


    The state based approach is purest capitalism, while the statist approach exemplified by the federal government is purest socialism.  You can vote with your feet and go to a better state (like buying a better product).  That is why the founders sought to minimize its power, and why statist have worked so hard to increase it.

  6. IamTheMapGuy
    IamTheMapGuy says:

    In the year 1787, a newly formed government of the people by the people created a document that today is referred to as the Constitution of the United States.  Being in the digital age, I thought to myself I wonder how many pages the constitution would be today in Microsoft Word both by page count and by words, so I cut and pasted it into word.  Using 11 point Calibri font, this is what I have come up with.



    This is a 12 page document (including an entire page of signatures)

    Consists of less than 5000 words (including signatures)


    To be fair, this does not include the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights or the 28 amendments (beginning in 1791 and ending in 1992) that have followed the original document.


    What about another amendment that would limit the size of any bill created in either the congress or senate to be a Maximum of 12 pages or 5000 words (I am sure they would start using a 2 point font to make it much longer).  Seriously, if you cannot create, distribute, and speak to a point in 12 pages, it is obviously loaded with a bunch or unnecessary legalize specifically designed to keep lawyers busy…  This is what we founded this nation on, I think that passing a bill on anything else should be as concise and to the point!


    As John Conyers said, “What good is reading the bill (healthcare) if it is 1000 pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill”


  7. RoBrDona
    RoBrDona says:

    Thanks Steve – as you say the interpretation of the Constitution as Amended is very subjective.

    Judicial Branch- Appointed for life and free of active control by other branches. Can rule on constitutionality of both Executive and Legislative actions through judicial review.  

    Legislative Branch – Makes laws. Can overide vetos and cut purse strings of Executive. Can inpeach and delay or deny appointments of Judicial,

    Executive Branch- Carries out laws. Can recommend and veto legislation. Power of the "bully pulpit". Only power over Judicial is appointments.

    The commonality is that all of these parties have an expressed interest in consolidating power within the Beltway. The utterance of "States Rights" gets you the hard stare from the bulk of the media who are in lock-step with the program. By the way it has been proven beyond a doubt that FDRs massive spending did not end the Depression, it created an upsurge in '35-7. WWII did it by creating real private-sector jobs. The only real outcome was the new power centralized in D.C.

  8. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    Steve, there can never be enough written about the Constitution, so keep it up. Maybe I'm wrong, but to my knowledge, the courts just don't run in and decide on legislation. There has to be a case that someone files to bring before them. If Lithwick thinks that the courts just willy-nilly rule on bills and he is depending on that, maybe that's the problem right there. I do know that the Supreme Court doesn't take up an issue unless someone brings it before them, because they decide which cases they will accept. Am I right on this?

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