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Never The Way It Was Supposed To Be

Never The Way It Was Supposed To Be

Some states have referendum and initiative processes where, through one means or another, a question of public policy is placed on the statewide ballot for the citizens to vote up or down by simple majority vote. Our country was always intended to be a representative republic—not a direct democracy—so this fact does not sit well with many of us who believe the founding generation was the most brilliant the world has ever known. There are a number of reasons I’m happy that I live in the Republic of Texas. One of them is that our state constitution does not allow for either of these processes.

The recent death of the great U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia made me come to the startling realization that, for all intents and purposes, we have what amounts to a national ballot question coming to all of us on Nov. 8. The question will be something along the lines of: “Should individual American citizens retain the God-given right to keep and bear arms for protection of themselves and their country that has been recognized in the Second Amendment since 1791?” The answer will be determined based upon the candidate we select. 

This is all due to the fact that that the next president will decide the control of the Supreme Court for decades to come. Will it be run by activist justices who couldn’t care less about the meaning and intent of the Constitution, or by justices whose every move is dictated by a duty-bound fidelity to it? 

The activists want nothing more than to reverse the landmark Heller decision written by Justice Scalia. That is the 5-4 decision confirming that the Second Amendment recognizes an individual, not collective, right. Before Scalia’s death, many observers predicted that the next president would end up appointing at least three new justices based upon the ages of those currently sitting on the bench. Now, at least one appointment is an absolute certainty. The activists want nothing more than to reverse the landmark Heller decision written by Justice Scalia.

Of course, this assumes that the U.S. Senate will stand strong and refuse to confirm any nomination to the court made by President Barack Obama in his last months as a lame-duck president. His focused, unyielding crusade against gun rights over at least the last two years tells us all we will ever need to know about who his nominee would likely be. Whoever it is will probably be absolutely committed to rendering the Second Amendment utterly meaningless. 

Having the Senate do its duty here is not going to disappoint many who love the country for what it was supposed to be. Most of us realize that Obama has done enough damage to our nation. The days for him to “fundamentally transform” what was the greatest country in history should, mercifully, be at an end. 

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has already announced that she will select activist justices for the Supreme Court who care about outcomes instead of devotion to the Constitution and letter of the law. She has repeatedly called the decision in Heller “wrong.” In other words, she wants justices who will for the first time in the history of America interpret “the people” in the Bill of Rights to mean “the government.” This is the kind of stuff that would have likely resulted in public officials being tarred and feathered outside taverns in Philadelphia and New York City back in the 1790s. How times have changed. 

We are supposed to be a nation of laws, not men. However, with the recent passing of Justice Scalia, too many of us believe to our core that our nation could crumble directly into the ash heap of history. We were never supposed to thrive or fail based upon the fate of individuals. Our robust system of constitutionally-created checks and balances was our insurance against such a tenuous existence. However, when the checks and balances fail to be performed, the foundation begins to fail. We are currently in the advanced stages of this structural failure. 

As Justice Scalia appreciated more than most, judges and justices in the Judicial Branch of government were expected to faithfully apply the law and letter of the Constitution to their decisions. Their developed role in the system of checks and balances is, before anything else, to ensure that the spirit of the Constitution is preserved in every contested action of the Executive and Legislative branches. 

Their job isn’t to decide cases based upon whether the outcome will make people happy or sad, warm or cold, full or hungry. It isn’t to make any class of people feel good about themselves or their chosen station in life. It is to decide cases with only one cold, hard care in the world—whether the provisions of the Constitution are being faithfully respected. 

Yet we have reached the sad day in our country’s 240-year history where the president, during his State of the Union speech, feels that it is appropriate to openly criticize the U.S. Supreme Court for a decision, not based upon its legal reasoning, but on whether the outcome should be considered “fair” and “just.” The president should, better than most, understand that faithful Supreme Court justices should be absolutely blind with regard to the ultimate effects of their decisions on the lives of certain groups or individuals. They should care only that they get things right in the eyes of those men who shed blood, sweat, and tears over every word and promise of the Constitution. Activist judges who find it easier to legislate from the bench and ignore the Constitution have always posed one of the greatest dangers to our country.

We have come to the point where conjured “rights” that are to be found nowhere in the text of the Constitution are considered inviolate, while actual rights explicitly stated in the Constitution are considered utterly meaningless and arcane. So sadly, the U.S. Supreme Court has become just one more political body—not the blind, objective arbiter of what is constitutional and not. The extent of the danger this fact poses to our country simply cannot be overstated. 

The Constitution was intended to be the unshifting, absolutely certain bedrock beneath our complex society. It was supposed to be the one thing that could always be relied upon to never buckle, regardless of social and political pressures. It was never supposed to be “living” or “breathing.” It was supposed to be devoid of emotion and preference. The Framers were smart and modest enough to know that they were not perfect. For the changes that would need to be made, there was a process by which amendments could be adopted. It is arduous by design, but it is not impossible—as history has shown on 18 separate occasions. 

Activist judges who find it easier to legislate from the bench and ignore the Constitution have always posed one of the greatest dangers to our country. To them, the end will always justify the means, no matter what damage might be done as a result. They could not care less that interpreting the Constitution to mean anything that is convenient for their immediate purposes renders the entire thing meaningless as a practical matter. 

The Supreme Court membership was always intended to be an afterthought in America. Presidents were supposed to pick justices based upon how well they could impartially decide questions of law. It was never supposed to be about whether they had a soft spot in their hearts for the less fortunate, or whether they wanted to prohibit citizens from exercising First Amendment rights during the course of a federal election in order to make things more “fair.”

NRA and its millions of members have played the most critical role imaginable in countless past elections. Because of the pro-gun candidates boosted to public office, members have shaped the course of history well beyond the scope of gun rights. Due to the fact that the Supreme Court has been bastardized into what is arguably the most powerful political body in the country, the stakes, as they specifically relate to individual firearm freedoms, are higher today than ever before. I believe this to my core.

We must all bear down with everything we’ve got and do everything in our power to be sure that the next president does not select Supreme Court nominees based upon their personal fervor to forever destroy the Second Amendment. We’ve hopefully all heard the story before, but we should always remember Ben Franklin’s answer to the woman outside of Independence Hall in 1787. She had asked whether he and the others had provided for a monarchy or a republic in the Constitution. He told her that America would be a republic “if you can keep it.” 

We will all be providing an answer to Franklin’s ominous challenge this November. These are serious days.