Daily Catch

Jurists undermine individual potential when they stray from the Constitution

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Societal stability is achieved by making fads, social theories, and passions of the moment stand the test of time by convincing a supermajority (two-thirds of the Congress and three-quarters of the states) that a change of our foundational laws and societal organization are necessary and good for individual rights. It is the way of our written Constitution.

The Constitution is the glue that keeps our nation and its people a cohesive whole despite their diverse religions, ethnicities, occupations and individualities. It is the Constitution and the courts that are designed to rein in the legislature and chief executive from straying beyond the powers that the people, in their wisdom, have delegated to government. The people’s wisdom is what allows government to fulfill its primary function of preserving and protecting the life, liberty, and property of the American people. 

The Congress (particularly the House) currently appears wanting to be swayed by momentary passions, and our chief executives have historically pushed the envelope on agendas that near or exceed the limits of the Constitution. The states, the laboratories of our society, produce good, not so good and really terrible ideas, many of which seem to exceed the guarantees of unalienable individual rights.

The Supreme Court fulfilled its constitutional duties well, before Wilsonian progressivism (the “living” constitution theory) started to creep into the nation’s law schools. In the 1930s and 1940s, President Franklin Roosevelt and President Harry Truman appointed 12 justices to the Supreme Court. Over a 20-year span of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, these appointees changed the view of the court from adhering to the Constitution as written to adhering to the Wilsonian theory of a living constitution based on the British model of expanding government control through judicial precedent. 

Over time, justices of the high court realized that the “living” constitution theory gave them the ability to mold society along the lines of their learned vision for America, unhinged from the pesky limitations on government adopted by the American people. Following the British model of jurisprudence, the courts became more like activists, creating laws from the bench that invariably gave government more power over the rights and liberties of the American people.

Activism on the part of judges and justices, and the socialist impulses of the progressives in both political parties, caused exponential growth in the size and power of government at the expense of individual’s unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property. 

The judges and justices who should have been the restraining hand against the excesses of government somehow became the handmaidens to interest group politics, sectionalism, violence, lawlessness, cultural degeneration and educational mediocrity. In simpler terms, the courts have thrown the Constitution under the bus. 

Unfortunately for the American people, judicial hubris and the rule of unintended consequences has turned judicial good intentions and hard work into a legal Gordian Knot that is driving society toward chaos, unfairness and destitution; the stuff that gives rise to dictators. It has allowed government to be omnipresent in our lives.

If judges and justices would return to their constitutional role of keeping government within the bounds of constitutional intent and limitations, and let the states and people exercise their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, most societal problems would work themselves out.  

As the innate abilities of the individual are turned loose and each individual is allowed to seek his or her own potential beyond the confines of government, society’s problems will diminish to manageable levels.

About John MacGregor

John "Jock" MacGregor is a student of history and politics, a pursuit he has enjoyed for most of his 79 years. Jock attended Villanova University’s School of Education; served in the U.S. Marine Corps; and is an entrepreneur with enterprises in restaurants, construction and boatbuilding. Mr. MacGregor was managing editor of an online news site in Hot Springs Arkansas. Currently, Jock comments on the role of government in society. Jock believes in a constitutionally limited government, instituted by the people, to protect their rights to life, liberty and property.

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