A Further Perspective

The Liberal Naysayers vs. The Federalist Papers

Will the Constitution be further marginalized tomorrow -- or revived?

By 6.27.12

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Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will issue one of the most important decisions in its history. It will decide if the Constitution, as it currently exists and was originally intended, is still superior to the actions of the two other branches of the federal government. 

Throughout America's history, there has been no doubt that it is. This week, and especially from our most liberal quarters, this historical foundation will be disregarded -- and in the most extreme outbursts, denied outright. Those protests will only grow louder if the Supreme Court rules, as it should, and overturns the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

It is therefore worthwhile to keep in mind the opinions of three who helped write, defend, and finally pass the Constitution. James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton, collectively authoring The Federalist Papers, offer responses to today's liberals that are, if anything, no less important now than when they originally wrote. 

Liberals have already attempted to marginalize the Constitution -- thereby diminishing its role relative to the government -- effectively aiming to decide the case in the court of public opinion before it was ever heard in the Supreme Court. They again will claim that the Constitution cannot keep pace with the exigencies of our modern life. They will say that the federal government is more responsive and knows best. 

In response, we should call to mind the words of Madison, writing in Federalist Paper #62: "It may be affirmed, on the best grounds, that no small share of the present embarrassments of America is to be charged on the blunders of our governments; and that these have proceeded from the heads rather than the hearts of most of the authors of them. What indeed are all the repealing, explaining, and amending laws, which fill and disgrace our voluminous codes, but so many monuments of deficient wisdom…?"

The Constitution and the Court remain our last fail-safes against the federal government's mistakes.

Liberals have also sought to deny the role of the Supreme Court in this case. They have said, and the Administration has echoed, that the Supreme Court has no role in the PPACA because it is a duly-passed action of the Congress.

In response we should call to mind the words of Jay, America's first Chief Justice, writing in Federalist Paper #64: "All constitutional acts of power, whether in the executive or in the judicial department, have as much legal validity and obligation as if they proceeded from the legislature…"

The Constitution created a government of three co-equal branches and the Supreme Court is merely adhering to its intended role in ruling on the PPACA -- and in overturning it. 

Finally, liberals have said that the practical benefits of the PPACA far outweigh the theoretical considerations of the Constitution. Their claim again will be that the Constitution, if it overturns the PPACA in whole or in part, is hindering the advancement of government on behalf of its citizens. 

In response we should call to mind the words of Hamilton, writing in Federalist Paper #78: "The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution. By a limited Constitution, I understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the legislative authority.… Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the mediums of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.… It is far more rational to suppose that the courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature in order, among other things, to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority."

The Supreme Court will not be hindering the advancement of government for its citizens, it will be hindering the encroachment of government on its citizens. In short, under our constitutional government, the end does not yet justify the means. 

Brace yourself for a momentous decision and a liberal onslaught. And keep a copy of The Federalist Papers close at hand. 

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About the Author

J.T. Young served in the Department of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004 and as a Congressional staff member from 1987 to 2000.