Our Constitution is the highest law in the land. It establishes the specific powers of Congress, and reserves other powers to other institutions or to the people. That’s why members of Congress are required to take an oath to uphold the Constitution.
But as with most of their promises and commitments, congressmen don’t have a very swell track record of doing what they have pledged to do. In fact, sometimes I wonder whether they even know what the Constitution says. Sure, the career politicians often don’t read the legislation they pass, but since it can be thousands of pages long that’s not so surprising. Bad, yes, but not surprising.
But the Constitution is short, straightforward and to the point. Leaders who used words to communicate, rather than hide their ideas wrote it. Any person can read and understand the Constitution in 20 minutes. But Congress has a bad habit of knowingly passing bills of uncertain constitutionality, and treating the Supreme Court as the goalie for the Constitution; let the Supreme Court strike down sloppy laws if necessary. But that’s not the way it’s supposed to work.
And that’s why Supreme Court Justice Scalia was right to speak out bluntly against this lazy practice that disregards constitutionality at will. Mr. Congressman: Pass only those bills you believe are constitutional. Stop passing legislation willy-nilly and peppering the Supreme Court with a zillion half-baked laws. You have a duty under the Constitution; you took an oath. Stop passing the buck.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.