Updated: May 5, 2022
In a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision, Justice Samuel Alito uses the rationale that abortion should not be entitled to legal protections because it’s not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. While this is in keeping with the Conservative philosophy that the Founding Fathers were endowed with such incredible foresight as to be able to predict any potential future, it smacks in the face of reason.
To claim that the writers of the Constitution could anticipate any eventuality defies logic. Yet Conservatives still adhere to the notion that the Constitution should be interpreted literally, with each word being taken exactly as written. It was this kind of thinking that was applied to multiple decisions made by right wing justices on the Supreme Court.
Let’s take a moment to investigate what else could be outlawed if this philosophy is applied to several other supposed “rights” that Americans claim.
When the Constitution was written Americans didn’t have electricity. Instead, they relied on whale oil to illuminate their homes and fireplaces to heat them. Such modern conveniences as electric lighting and heat were unheard of. So, if a proposed national energy grid was developed, the Supreme Court would be within its rights to declare this unconstitutional since it’s not mentioned in the document.
Many states, except Texas, do have energy sharing agreements with neighboring states in the event of a power outage. Texas cut itself off from this arrangement resulting in the needless deaths of 246 Texans. If Texas had been part of a power-sharing arrangement, it could have used this to supply power to specific areas, but instead it opted to go it alone to demonstrate its independence from federal regulations.
So, a national energy grid would certainly be beneficial, but would it be constitutional?
Thanks to the experimentation of Benjamin Franklin, the Founding Fathers certainly were aware of the the benefits of electricity, even if they had not yet discovered a way to harness this energy, much less how to get it into homes, so why wasn’t it mentioned as one of the “inalienable rights” in the Constitution? Should electricity be declared unconstitutional?
Motor Vehicle Regulations
Is there anything that we don’t love more than our cars? Auto shows, NASCAR, and the family road trip are as much a part of the American identity as baseball and apple pie. With vehicles ownership comes responsibility, along with a myriad of rules and regulations governing this symbiotic relationship. Fees for ownership, along with fines for violating certain traffic laws, have become the lifeblood of income for many state and local governments.
Yet while there have been numerous laws passed to regulate the use of motor vehicles, there is no mention of this in the Constitution. The obvious response is, “They weren’t invented yet”, but if we are to consider the Constitution to be the true law of the land, shouldn’t these rules be ignored?
Try that next time you are trying to argue your way out of a speeding ticket.
In response to the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, when Americans were forced to go on a vehicular “diet” of sorts, then President Richard Nixon enacted a law establishing a national speed limit. It was met with fierce backlash and cries of government overreach, but it was something every state adopted as a possible solution to our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. They claimed the law was unconstitutional.
And, given the current makeup of today’s Supreme Court they would be correct since the Founding Fathers made no mention of such restrictions in their drafting of the Constitution.
So go ahead and drive on the sidewalk, ignore those stop signs, forget those arbitrary speed limits. After all, you have the Constitution on your side.
If there is one thing those on the right hold more sacred than loving their vehicles, it’s their constitutionally protected Right to Bear Arms. While the Founding Fathers never indicated exactly what type of firearms they were targeting, Second Amendment advocates have taken it to mean they have a right to unlimited guns and ammunition, no matter what kind.
When then President Bill Clinton signed into law a ban on assault weapons it was with huge bipartisan support, passing in the Senate with a vote of 95-4. Due to outrage from the NRA and the gun-loving right about the constitutionality of the law, the ban was allowed to expire ten years after it was enacted despite studies showing a 17% drop in gun crimes involving automatic weapons.
But does the Constitution allow for the possession of automatic weapons? When the document was written did it only apply to the flintlocks and muskets that were the standard firearms of the time, or did it grant carte blanche to own as many types of firearms, including automatic weapons, as you could.
There’s no mention of automatic weapons in the Constitution, so using the current logic of the Supreme Court, it seems obvious that the framers only meant this available when they adopted those rules.
So, guess what gun nuts?! It’s time to turn in your AK-47s, your Uzis and your .357 magnums. Instead, grab a musket and have at it. After all, it’s your constitutionally protected right.
Promise Made. Promises Broken
When hearings were held to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, Trump nominated justices vowed to support Roe v Wade. They used terms like established law and legal precedent to make the claim that there would be no reason to overturn the ruling of a previous court.
Yeah. They lied!
Relying on a strict interpretation of the Constitution and a claim of states’ rights, the court appears to be ready to overturn fifty years of established precedent by denying women a right to choose. Apparently the promises they madeduring their confirmation hearings were only meant to sway those who were sitting on the fence until they received assurances that Roe would not be overturned.
Whatever your view on abortion, overturning Roe won’t end the practice. It will only make it illegal once again and needlessly put women’s lives at risk.
Also, the Constitution is not a fruit salad where you can only pick the things you like while ignoring the mangoes and kiwis.