Any post a blogger might publish concerning partisan politics would be bound to ruffle feathers one way or another. Since I have very strong political opinions, I follow a rule of not making political comments at all.
Sometimes, however, events arise in the political arena which have nothing to do with conservative vs liberal or Republican vs Democrat. Some involve very obvious and clear cases of right and wrong. Such an issue is the question of whether we, as a nation, should follow the Constitution or ignore it in favor of our respective biases.
My friend Ashley Cockerill pointed out in a recent blog that today, Friday June 21, is the 225th anniversary of the passing of the Constitution. She urged all her readers to honor that document by reading it this week. I agreed with her and sat down a couple of days ago to pore over this instrument which is the foundation of our republic.
While I was engaged in studying it, I read in a news article that the Supreme Court of the United States—an institution which is charged with upholding this document—issued a ruling that the state of Arizona has no right to see to it that only citizens vote in elections held there. In rendering this opinion, they basically took the position that federal law supersedes the Constitution. Really?
Section 2 of Article I of the Constitution states:
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
Article I, of course, is that portion of the Constitution that governs Congress. At the time of original passage, Senators were not elected by popular vote, so this section effectively establishes qualifications for voters for any federal elective position, and it clearly leaves it up to each state to determine those qualifications.
Article VI states:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;
This article makes it pretty clear that the Constitution supersedes laws Congress passes. Laws passed by Congress in pursuance of the Constitution are part of the supreme law of the land, but if Congress passes a law which conflicts with a provision of the Constitution, that law is null and void.
Those of you who have followed my blogs long enough will recall more than one post (click here to read the last of these posts) in which I sympathized with a waitress friend of mine whose husband returned to Mexico because his parents brought him here illegally. I supported her in her efforts to get him back here legally, but neither she nor I would have suggested he should be allowed to vote in a country in which he was not a citizen.
The principle involved here has nothing to do with whether we feel sympathy for those who have violated our laws by crossing our borders illegally. It has nothing to do with whether my skin is white or brown or black. It has nothing to do with whether my native language is English or Spanish or whatever. It is a simple matter of right and wrong. Are we going to uphold our nation’s constitution, or are we going to ignore it any time some other course of action “feels good?”
If we’re to remain a constitutional republic, the answer is clear.
We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
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Thanks for the reminder that got me thinking about this, Ashley.
David – Excellent post. Until we have a supreme covert and a congressional body with real world experience I believe we aren’t going to see much progress.
I think you’re exactly right Sheri.Trouble is, I think we’ve gone past the point of no return.
Convincing argument. Thanks!
Thank you, Sharon.
I think your analysis might be a little oversimplified. The law is not null until it is found null and void under the dictates Marbury vs. Madison. Think about all of the laws that have been declared unconstitutional. They’ve been followed and enforced until they’ve been found unconstitutional.
And of course the Court’s interpretation of the Constitution has changed (a great deal) since it was first written. Greater weight has been given to personal liberties; less weight, to economic liberties. Amendments have been added which in more cases than not, broaden individual rights. Supreme Court Justices often turn words on their head and in most cases, form diametrically opposed alliances within the Court.
All of that said, I agree with your political conclusion. I love the role immigrants play in our country. I just think they need to obey the laws of the country they wish to live in. I also think much of the problem could be solved by liberalizing immigration laws to make it easier for productive immigrants to gain citizenship.
You’re absolutely correct about the court interpretations, El. That’s why the Supreme Court’s decision in this case upset me so much.