by Joshua L. Rogers, for the Hattiesburg American
According to the United States Supreme Court, the Constitution says we have a fundamental right to use contraceptives (it doesn’t), that women have a fundamental right to abort their child (it doesn’t say that either), and that we all have a fundamental right to parent our kids as we see fit (nope, not in there).
I admit to being someone who appreciates having the right to parent my child as I see fit, but I am uncomfortable with nine philosopher kings in Washington telling me that is my right.
The Constitution is full of sweeping rights for Americans, but on some issues, it is entirely silent. On those issues, the 50 states have the authority to make their own rules.
That doesn’t mean that the Constitution can’t change; it can be amended by the people, but it’s a tedious process that requires overwhelming popular consent.
When amendments fail, as they almost always do, the issue stays under the authority of the states.
There is, however, a cheap way to amend the Constitution and seize power from the states. Think of it as a Supreme Court Easy Pass, where the court just declares new constitutional rights in an opinion handed down like an edict.
For example, with the Easy Pass, the court can dream up new provisions of the Constitution that are more politically conservative (like marriage being only between a man and woman) or create rights that are more politically liberal (like the right to have a gay marriage).
Either way, in deciding an issue that’s not addressed in the Constitution (who can marry), nine aristocrats end up deciding an issue that should either be dealt with by an amendment or left in the hands of the 50 states.
Over the years, too many of our Supreme Court justices have taken it upon themselves to use the Easy Pass and decree certain rights to us that aren’t actually in the Constitution.
That is why, as our president nominates the replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, his criteria should require a person who will simply interpret the Constitution as it is written not as the judge wishes it had been written.
Where the Constitution is silent, the states can govern themselves.
Where the Constitution needs to be changed, it should be amended through the process provided in the Constitution, not through a judicial edict.
Joshua L. Rogers is an attorney in Washington, D.C.
The views in this article represent those of the author alone, and do not, in any way, reflect the views of the author’s employer.