When a Supreme Court Justice is so divorced from the Constitution that he allows his personal preferences for policy override the clear language of a key part of the Bill of Rights, he’s no longer serving as a member of the judiciary, he’s a tyrant in a black robe.
It’s not just the Constitution that is a “living document,” as Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer proved yesterday when discussing the Second Amendment. Breyer argued that James Madison only included the right to bear arms reluctantly, and only because the states wouldn’t sign the Constitution for fear of creating an overmighty central government. That’s why he voted against the majority in the Heller decision that overturned the federal handgun ban in Washington DC.
Further, the entire Bill of Rights was written for the purposes of reassuring reluctant citizens (and states, which actually ratified the Constitution) of the limits of federal power. Breyer’s notion that an amendment can just be ignored if it was only agreed to in order to reassure citizens and states would void all ten of the Bill of Rights Amendments. The federal government only guaranteed the right to free speech and peaceful assembly because the states (and their respective citizens) feared it might abridge that right. Does that one “not count” too?
And if the Second Amendment doesn’t count — why, then, let us chuck this other appeasement to the states, this notion that the state shall not establish an official religion. After all, they only threw that in there to get people to sign on the line which is dotted.
The whole point of the Bill of Rights was to prevent the federal government from making excuses like this profoundly stupid statement by “Justice” Breyers. The Founding Fathers, having just overthrown the chains of oppression from a distant government were in no rush to embrace oppression of a homegrown sort. The states which ratified the Constitution would no more have embraced the concept of judicially imposed tyranny via the federal courts than they would have embraced such from the Congress or the President. Breyer’s proposed approach to interpreting the Constitution quickly leads to a federal government with the states as mere vassals that do little more than administer the edicts of an all powerful central authority. No one who has read the slightest bit of history can reach the conclusion that this was the intent either of the authors of the Constitution, or of the separate states that voted to ratify it.
My concern isn’t even so much about the right to keep and bear arms, as it is about someone with such obvious disdain for the central theme of the Constitution, which was to provide sufficient power for the federal government to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare, and no more.
Such an egregious abuse of his power should be punished by the one venue clearly granted to a co-equal branch of the federal government, that is, impeachment.