The Constitution: The Supreme Law of the Land
March 27, 2005
The question of judicial supremacy and a sharp focus on constitutionalism appears to be on the cutting edge of an intense dialogue on the national scene. A true balance of power between the legislative, executive and judicial branches is the focus within this dialogue. It our posture that an emphasis on the essentials of Constitutionalism, as a way of life, is necessary and called for if we are to retain our freedoms and our American way of life, historically.
The US Constitution styles itself the "supreme law of the land." Courts have interpreted this phrase to mean that when laws (including state constitutions) have been passed by state legislatures, or laws by the US Congress, are found to conflict with the federal Constitution, these laws are null and have no effect. In fact, decisions by the Supreme
Court over the course of two centuries, with recent exceptions, have repeatedly confirmed and strengthened the doctrine of Constitutional supremacy.
Final political and governmental authority under the Constitution is vested in the American electorate. It is the electorate, not the court, who can change the fundamental law by amending the Constitution. It has been said by some that over the last fifty years, the US Supreme Court has become a permanent constitutional convention in that five appointed judges have rewritten the meaning of the Constitution. We are reminded of the statement by Abraham Lincoln: "Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties."
The long, difficult process of amending the Constitution with its requirements for two-thirds majorities in Congress and for three-fourth of the state to concur was designed to make changing the Constitution difficult, but doable. It is this process that is called for in our Constitution. It is a long process but truly that is the only process whereby the true will of the people can be heard and felt.
The Constitution is written to protect the rights of the minority against the will of the majority and the rights of the majority against the whim of the court. Without the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the will of the majority would be imposed on the minority. The American Founders understood this and rejected democracy in favor of a constitutional republic. Our republic is a unique design of the carefully balanced executive, legislative and judicial branches. The three branches of government were not designed to be "separate but equal" branches but three carefully balanced branches, the weakest of which is the judicial branch. They were to function together so that the will of the majority could not overturn constitutional guarantees. The Founders were concerned about the power of an unchecked court so they put limits on its power. The Supreme Court's constitutional charge is to rule on the letter and the intent of the Constitution "with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make," according to Article IIII, Section 2. .
The amendment process, not the court system, is the original intent process for expressing the will of the people. We have seen the Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 vote, change things around. If five justices decide we cannot say "one nation under God," or cannot pray at graduation, and cannot criticize politicians with campaign adds just before an election, then we, as a people, lose those rights.
And, but the same logic, if they were to decide that child pornography on the Internet is protected by free speech, unlike prayer and political speech, it is THAT then which becomes the law of the land. This, as we see it, is a modern form of a power grab by the Court and a break from our great traditions in American history.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has asked this question of the Court: "What secret knowledge is breathed into lawyers when they become Justices of this Court? Day by day, case by case, the Court is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize." And Judge Bork went on to charge:" A judge who departs from the Constitution...is applying no law other than his will. Our Country is being radically altered, step by step, by Justices who are not following any law."
We conclude by asking the question: if the Constitution does not mean what it says, and as the courts move us further and further from the original intent of the Constitution, then what protects the rights of the will of ALL of the people of whatever persuasion? The answer to this question will determine the course of history for Americans of this generation and of generations to come. That is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.