FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Grand Theft Constitution

Maybe it’s not a violation of criminal statutes.

But the misappropriation of the U.S. Constitution by conservatives for their partisan posturing ? as illustrated in last week’s reading of the nation’s founding document in the House ? does fit the definition of theft: taking property without consent?in this instance the ‘consent’ of the governed.

However, this is a heist conservatives’ have successfully pulled off before as evidenced by their politicized appropriation of the American Flag, the Pledge of Alliance, national security, God, mom, apple pie, etc. etc?

This brazen theft by deception of the Constitution ? the foundational document of the U.S. government ? happens on three levels: dismissive; disturbing and downright dangerous.

The dismissive level involves crack-pot political candidates like Christine ‘I’m Not A Witch’ O’Donnell. During her unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid last year O’Donnell’s inane pontifications about various provisions in the Constitution were the butt of jokes from coffee cup conversations to TV comedy.

It’s easy to dismiss O’Donnell, who recently called the vote last month extending unemployment benefits a “tragedy.” She’s loopy and a lawbreaker too, having confirmed that she used political campaign contributions to pay for personal items like rent and a mattress.

The disturbing level came last week when the Republicans in the House kicked off the new session of Congress with a public reading of the Constitution?a muck-reeking exercise unmitigated by bi-partisan participation.

While supposedly showing their fealty to the “original meaning” of the Constitution they used a prop. Putting con into Constitution, they read from a censored version of the document that selectively excluded salient passages like those pertaining to slavery.

But more debilitating and more far-reaching than the dismissive and disturbing are the dangerous perspectives held on the Constitution by some of those constitutionally empowered with interpreting that document ? members of the U.S. Supreme Court, specifically those on that body’s far-right majority.

Only recently Justice Antonin Scalia, the kingpin of the Court’s conservative fringe, declared that 14th Amendment prohibitions against discrimination do not apply to women and gays.

Now, conservatives have a First Amendment right to proclaim themselves America’s preeminent protectors of the Constitution, irrespective of the truth or sincerity of their assertion.

But critics rightfully do point out that too many conservative doctrines pervert the textual meaning of the Constitution, beginning with conservative policies that pollute pledges contained in the Constitution’s Preamble.

The Preamble pledge of promoting “the general welfare,” for example, does not mean promoting the welfare of the wealthy first, foremost and forever ? which is a pillar of the Republican Party.

The GOP apparently also ignores the Preamble pledge of “establishing Justice.” How else to explain their passion for cutting taxes for the rich while seeking to slash Social Security for elderly citizens?

While it’s politely fashionable in the wake of the tragic mass murder in Arizona to criticize rhetorical excesses on the right and left, which are said to be creating the climate of political hatred rampant across America, the reality is that it is right-wing antics that have inflamed that atmosphere. It is not liberals or leftists who lambaste their opponents with violence laced barrages.

Conservative starlet Sarah Palin put the gun-sight cross-hairs on Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s district advocating her removal, not the ACLU or the New Black Panther Party, that small crew that conservatives last year desperately tried to blow up into big boogiemen.

And, lest we forget, Nevada’s Sharron Angle gained wide attention last year during her unsuccessful Republican U.S. Senate campaign against incumbent Sen. Harry Reid with her repeated calls for “Second Amendment Remedies” ? urging her supporters to consider using guns for attaining the results they desired.

Last week’s reading of the Constitution in Congress elevated farce exponentially.

Compounding the deception of excising slavery and three other items from that happy-face Constitution reading exercise, Republicans killed the voting rights of the six congressional delegates from America’s remaining colonies in one of their first official actions.

By law, those six delegates cannot vote during regular congressional sessions. So stripping those delegates of their limited right to participate in occasional Committee of the Whole votes was mean-spirited and undemocratic ? contradicting Republican claims that the Constitution reading “celebrated democracy.”

Those six disenfranchised delegates represent Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Marianna Islands and the Virgin Islands ? coincidentally jurisdictions with majority non-white populations–all citizens but without representation.

The Congressional conservatives’ ideological confederates in the federal courts have long embraced a notion they call “original intent” ? imposing their thoughts about what they claim to know the nation’s Founders thought.

Justice Scalia has defended his contention that 14th Amendment “equal protection of the laws” guarantees do not apply to women and gays by insisting that post-Civil War amendment was intended only to protect black males.

However, curiously Scalia didn’t protect black males when he joined a court majority in December 2000 in using the 14th Amendment to stop the vote count in Florida ? a nakedly partisan action that put George W. Bush into the White House.

During that presidential election in Florida where candidate George W. was found to have ‘won’ by 537 votes, his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, launched a series of vote-stealing schemes that disenfranchised tens of thousands of blacks.

Those schemes included using a faulty felons list that falsely included the names of many people who had never been arrested for anything, and prevented them from voting.

That deliberate blocking of black votes was the type of race-based disenfranchisement the drafters of the 14th Amendment had specifically sought to preclude ? original intent.

Scalia’s ‘attytoods’ on the 14th Amendment resemble the opinion expressed by one U.S. Supreme Court Justice in a 1872 ruling rejecting the appeal of a woman barred from becoming a lawyer in Illinois: the “nature of things indicates the domestic sphere as that which properly belongs to the domain and functions of womanhood.”

Arlen Specter, the 30-year U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, castigated U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito during his farewell speech last month.

Specter, a long time Republican member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, faulted that pair for repudiating their “confirmation testimony” promising to follow the Constitution and the intent of Congress when they backed the Citizens United ruling that permitted corporations to secretly bankroll political advertising.

The multi-million dollar political spending spawned by Citizens United is widely seen as having enabled the Republican congressional sweep in last November’s election.

Criticisms of Roberts and Alito also came from Congressman John Hall (D ? N.Y.), another person leaving Capitol Hill.

Hall called Roberts and Alito “activist judges [who] made a very activist decision” in the Citizens United ruling that “overturned more than a century of precedent.”

Hall, in a newspaper interview, said, “I learned when I was in social studies class in school that corporate ownership or corporate control of government is called Fascism. So that’s really the question ? is that the destination if this court decision goes unchecked?”

Fascism certainly isn’t in the Constitution, and even O’Donnell’s witchery would have a hard time making it appear there.

Those genuine conservatives who are fond of labeling President Obama a communist, fascist, socialist and worse should raise their eyes from the text of their censored Constitutions and look at how the real one is being shredded by the actions of people within their own ranks.

LINN WASHINGTON is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run, reader-sponsored online alternative newspaper.

 

More articles by:

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

June 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Divest From the Business of Incarceration
W. T. Whitney
Angola in Louisiana: Proving Ground for Racialized Capitalism
Susan Babbitt
Assange and Truth: the Deeper (Harder) Issue
Kenn Orphan
Humanity vs. the Rule of Law
Mateo Pimentel
Why on Earth a Country of Laws and Borders?
Michael T. Klare
The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China
Howard Lisnoff
The Outrageous Level of Intolerance is Happening Everywhere!
Vijay Prashad
The People of India Stand With Palestine
RS Ahthion
Internment Camps for Child Migrants
Binoy Kampmark
Rocking the G7: Trump Stomps His Allies
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Lawrence Wittner
Getting Ready for Nuclear War
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Women Protest After Being Told by Turkish-Backed Militias to Wear the Hijab
Dean Baker
When Both Men and Women Drop Out of the Labor Force, Why Do Economists Only Ask About Men?
Bruce Lerro
Big Brother Facebook: Drawing Down the Iron Curtain on Yankeedom
June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail