About That Constitution

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The GOP shows that for all their recent rhetoric about the sacredness of the Constitution, the document is really little more than a political prop.

Today, Democrats offered a motion to recommit on legislation to extend expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act to ensure that PATRIOT Act powers are not used to violate the Constitutional freedoms and protections guaranteed to all Americans. The motion included two parts:

No Constitutional shortcuts. When investigating American citizens, the government must comply with the Constitution, even in national security investigations

Challenging unconstitutional action. If a citizen challenges the government’s use of PATRIOT Act power in a court of law, the case must be expedited to ensure the individual’s rights are upheld.

Just two House Republicans voted for the measure. Sure, this was a stunt by the Democrats. Sort of like the “read the bills” proposals from Republicans are, also, stunts. But that’s sort of the problem. We’ve reached the point where merely asking the government to respect the constitutional rights of American citizens, or that members of Congress actually read bills before they vote on them, have become quaint notions; handy for political posturing, but they’re ideas that tend to elicit only scoffs from serious Washington people.

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25 Responses to “About That Constitution”

  1. #1 |  BamBam | 

    As The Rock of WWE fame quipped: know your role and shut your mouth!

    Serfs are not permitted to question their superiors.

  2. #2 |  George in AZ | 

    Would it have killed you to let us know who the two Reps are? “…two House Republicans — Texas’ Ron Paul and North Carolina’s Walter Jones — voted for this….”

  3. #3 |  SANTA = SATAN | 

    dude, we knew who one of them was already. pffft!

  4. #4 |  Tweets that mention About That Constitution | The Agitator -- Topsy.com | 

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Bryant, FoxArtCultTech. FoxArtCultTech said: About That Constitution http://goo.gl/fb/5AsmV [...]

  5. #5 |  Marty | 

    fargin bastiges.

  6. #6 |  SJE | 

    This is hilarious. I hope that the Dems can follow up with more specific legislation that really gets to the issues that bug most people, and are very likely unconstitutional.

    Just for extra laughs, let’s see if the GOP can put forward a bunch of defense cuts that fall only in Democratic Congressional Districts, and see the Dems argue that they are “essential.”

  7. #7 |  Mattocracy | 

    Please, some right winger come here and tell us Libertarians we’re crazy and defend this indefensible bullshit.

  8. #8 |  Joe | 

    The constitution is more than a political prop. But I agree, this is disappointing. Conservatives should care about civil liberties, especially to American citizens. Because if we allow them to be eroded, we will find they will be lost.

  9. #9 |  Joe | 

    Of course, I do not recall all the civil liberty blessings that were promissed by the Democrats. But hey, let’s just let entitlements, spending, and the status quo go.

  10. #10 |  Joe | 

    Have a beer and enjoy. I am heading for the mountains.

  11. #11 |  Joe | 

    Rand Paul agrees.

  12. #12 |  LibertarianBlue | 

    Joe

    In my encounters, conservatives view civil liberties as a way for liberals/communists to coddle criminals.

  13. #13 |  Matthew | 

    Can you go into more detail about why you consider this a political stunt on the level of reading the constitution in chamber? Reading the constitution has absolutely zero effect in terms of legislation. This would at least have had the authority of law. Is it just a matter of it being “too vague to have any real effect”?

  14. #14 |  BamBam | 

    http://www.oregonlive.com/gresham/index.ssf/2011/02/gresham_police_officers_involv_1.html

    another State justified murder, but it may be legitimate. the message is NEVER CALL THE POLICE UNLESS YOU WANT TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE

  15. #15 |  SJE | 

    The GOP likes the 2nd amendment, the Dems like the 6th and and 14th.

  16. #16 |  BamBam | 

    Fake video footage ‘persuades half of people to wrongly accuse others of crime’

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/6200009/Fake-video-footage-persuades-half-of-people-to-wrongly-accuse-others-of-crime.html

    Just like fake reports by police. It’s easy to be correct when you are the one writing the narrative and those that judge your narrative are on your team.

  17. #17 |  Nick | 

    I see in this post by Jacob Hornberger that Ron Paul is making his own attempt to put republicans on the spot by forcing a public vote on a foreign aid amendment to the 2011 funding bill.

  18. #18 |  Rick H. | 

    #13 Matthew: Can you go into more detail about why you consider this a political stunt on the level of reading the constitution in chamber? Reading the constitution has absolutely zero effect in terms of legislation.

    To my understanding, the “read the bills” proposals are not about reading the Constitution, they’re about legislators actually reading their insane legislation before voting on it. A nice idea, one which would be completely uncontroversial in some hypothetical nation not ruled by ignorant scumbags who benefit from the impenetrable complexity of the laws.

  19. #19 |  Teddy Microphone | 

    The GOP never fails to disappoint when it comes to hypocrisy. They’re like the bail system, they both need to be reformed: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2011/02/07/americas-bail-system-needs-to-be-reformed/

  20. #20 |  M. Steve | 

    You have to understand that these people, Dem and GOP alike, are absolutely convinced of their own righteousness, and believe that no other restriction than their own magnificent conscience is required to run the country. The Constitution is “just a piece of paper”, “not a suicide pact”, etc. Remember how upset those quotes got liberals when W. was president? Kinda funny that Constitutionality no longer holds their interest, with their guy in power. Upperdown vote, “nuclear option”, blah, blah, blah. I’ve gotten into heated debates with liberals who believe that filibusters are the worst thing to happen to our democracy, who just a few years ago wanted to defend them with their own lives.

    For the average “benevolent” statist, amassed power is simply a means to make life better for everyone. Therefore, they are completely blameless when violating principles in its pursuit. After all, they’re not in it for power’s sake, so this somehow absolves them from any moral culpability.

    It is an unfortunate truism of *any era* that most people do not operate from a defined moral framework, they just wing it. Fortunately for human society, that has worked well in general, as “winging it” gets up by. In the era of machine guns, ICBMs, and WMD’s, “winging it” is not longer a viable basis of civilization.

  21. #21 |  Mattocracy | 

    To build on what LibertarianBlue said, ‘civil liberties’ have turned into buzz words for conservatives that mean the same thing as playing the race card, creating a cult of victimhood, and generally excusing people from responsability.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people have tried to do these things in the name of civil liberties in the past. It’s really tainted the word. I don’t know what the answer is other than to use a different term that hasn’t been co-opted yet. Once someone has a negative view of a word/phrase they aren’t going to change their minds about it.

    Liberals have developed the same feelings about the terms ‘constitutionalism’ and ‘free market’ thanks to Republicans. It’s difficult to keep your opponents from redefinning your own words. When people hear their opponents offer something legitimate, they just assume they’re playing an angle and dismiss it whole heartedly.

  22. #22 |  GregS | 

    One of the problems with the U.S. Constitution is that there is no effective mechanism to actually hold politicians and government employees responsible when they violate it. Yes, you can go to court to argue that some law is unconstitutional, and maybe after several years of litigation you might succeed in getting it overturned. But there are no repercussions to the politicians who created that violation in the first place.

    Maybe what is needed is a separate, independent constitutional court and constitutional police force. The sole job of the latter would be to investigate politicians and government employees when it appears they’ve violated the constitution, and to bring charges against them if warranted. The job of the constitutional court would then be to determine if the person actually violated the constitution and to prescribe the appropriate punishment (e.g., removal from office and perhaps being banned from holding public office ever again).

  23. #23 |  Radley Balko | 

    The GOP never fails to disappoint when it comes to hypocrisy. They’re like the bail system, they both need to be reformed . . .

    Oh, come on. I don’t mind you pimping your blog here. But at least try to come up with a convincing segue.

  24. #24 |  Nick | 

    One of the problems with the U.S. Constitution is that there is no effective mechanism to actually hold politicians and government employees responsible when they violate it.

    Actually, that problem is not exclusive to the U.S. Constitution. That is a problem that comes with the state… all of them. It’s a package deal.

    Maybe what is needed is a separate, independent constitutional court and constitutional police force.

    You’re on the right track.

  25. #25 |  Julian | 

    Heck, it’s considered quaint to suggest that legislators actually, you know, legislate by writing their own bills instead of letting lobbyists do it. We’ve lacked in vigilance and, as a result, our politics has been bought and paid for by folks who’s idea of “civic virtue” is bulldozing the elderly out of their homes to build Pfizer office buildings with tax payer money.

    Our politicians believe so strongly in “liberty”, they’d rather spend money to chastise women for having miscarriages than let a single abortion go unmolested.

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