Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Whatever Happened to the Constitution?

Once during a meeting in the White House President Bush was told that something he wanted to do might well be unconstitutional. He reportedly screamed back. "Stop throwing the constitution in my face, It's just a goddamned piece of paper!" From what has been going on lately I am beginning to believe many of our various “leaders” may feel sympathetic to that point of view. I cannot claim any particular expertise on the constitution, having at best only a passing familiarity with it, but there are some things I’m pretty certain are in it.

Consider Pennsylvania where it is reported that doctors have been given a gag order forbidding them to report on the various chemicals that might be used in “fracking” and whether or not they may be harmful. I’m sure our constitution says something about “free speech,” and I find it difficult to believe such an order can be constitutional, particularly when it bears directly on the health of our citizens.

Take also the business of forcing women to submit to medically unnecessary ultrasound procedures prior to having an abortion. Many states have already passed such laws and apparently others are considering doing the same. I’m pretty sure our constitution says something about a right to privacy, among other personal protections, so I can only conclude such laws must certainly be unconstitutional.

Similarly, consider the Tennessee abortion bill being considered that specifies that the names of doctors who provide abortions must be made public (thus rendering them vulnerable to those who do not hesitate to shoot them). Not only is that the case, the bill specifies that any woman who requests an abortion must be vetted as to her name, how many children she has, how often has she been pregnant, race, age, education, and so on. Someone suggested upon hearing about this, “They must be insane!” I would suspect that might be the case, but whether sane or not they clearly either have no understanding of the constitution or regard it with the same contempt shown by our former dimwitted President. And do not forget that in all these cases abortion is perfectly legal in the United States.

We are also struggling at the moment with a series of bills that would make voting more difficult or even impossible for large numbers of American citizens. These are obviously deliberate attempts to stop voters who might well be expected to vote democratic, young people, people of color, and the elderly who do not have the necessary documentation the new bills would require voters to have. In some cases in order to acquire the documents people might have to pay a fee, possess birth certificates they may not have, travel some distance to acquire them and so on. In some cases people who have voted in every election for many years are being turned away. Some of these attempts at voter suppression have already been stopped but more and more states are attempting them. It would seem clear to me that these attempts are blatantly unconstitutional, but those who are behind them seem unconcerned about such details, after all “it’s just a goddamned piece of paper.”

There are, of course, more important questions about the limits of Presidential power. We already know that the past couple of Presidents have gone to war without the proper Congressional authorization. On top of that we now have a situation where the President has ordered drone attacks and bombings on countries with which we do not have formal declarations of war. Some has observed there is no constitutional authority for dropping bombs “will-nilly.” That would seem to be an obvious violation on the constitution. There is also the fact the President seems to believe it is constitutional for him to assassinate American citizens with no due process, no trial, or whatever. This simply cannot be constitutional but it is happening. I know this has to be a violation of the 14the amendment, so I am prompted to ask again, whatever happened to the constitution? Does anyone care?

What are politicians going to tell people when the Constitution is gone and we still have a drug problem?
William Simpson

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