The Meaningless Constitution

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Great post by one “Brutus” on Who’s your nanny, which I reproduce below:

I originally intended this to be a comment on Trevor's post last week, but it got too long for a comment and decided to post it as an essay… I think radicals would better use their time studying the debates on the Constitution and the situation that led to its creation rather than dwelling on interpretation. As Hans Hermann Hoppe has pointed out many times, the State is the ultimate judge of Constitutional interpretation and will always interpret laws in its own favor. There may have been a time when some judges genuinely wanted to limit the State, but those times are over and many opponents of the Constitution predicted such. Since the State has the weapons and will to kill, it really doesn't matter if the court misinterprets the document or not.
The idea of placing judges on the bench who will obey the Constitution is misguided. In order for a judge to be placed on the Court, he or she must be nominated by the president and confirmed by Congress. It is simply not in the interest of the president nor Congress to nominate a judge who truly believes in original intent or who believes that actions not explicitly granted to the federal government are unconstitutional. No president will nominate a judge who would act to restrict the power of the presidency. No Congress would vote for a judge who would act to restrict the power of Congress. Moreover, the Court itself has little incentive to rule against Congress or the president because as the powers of Congress and the presidency are strengthened, so is the power of the Court for all three are part of the same federalized State.

But even if by some miracle the majority of the Court comprises judges who would restrict the powers of the presidency and Congress, there still exists the question of how the Court could enforce its rulings. What most people do not realize is that the federal government is in a state of anarchy. That is, the Constitution does not specify what to do with disagreements among the three branches. There is no explicit ultimate ruler and there really does not need to be because all branches have the same motivation: increase our power at the expense of the people.

Thus, the only entity that can limit the central State is the people through their individual States. They did so by regularly threatening nullification and secession if the central State violated the Constitution. Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island explicitly stated in their ratification documents that they were delegating powers to the central government and if that government became oppressive, they reserved the right to take these powers back. The threat of nullification was advanced in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, written by Jefferson and Madison, respectively, in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts which banned criticism of the federal government.

Northern States used threats of secession and nullification on multiple occasions. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 worried some Northern States that the Southern States would become more powerful in Congress and they threatened to leave. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island nullified the Embargo act of 1807. Some Northern States also threatened to secede during the War of 1812 because England was a trading partner with these States and they did not want to lose their markets. It was not until the tyrant Lincoln was elected and decided it expedient to murder 300,000 Southerners to collect his tariff that secession and nullification came to an end. Lincoln destroyed the first Constitution and created a second Constitution, not based on the voluntary agreement of the people in their respective States (even this claim is debatable), but truly a new nation based on conquest and exploitation. Thus, the only actions left to limit the growth of the central State were rendered nugatory. 

Radicals must admit that the Constitution was a clear error and not back down from this claim. Defending this idea will be quite difficult; even people who have libertarian leanings may find this claim misguided at best and unpatriotic at worst. Many Americans look at this document as if it were Holy Writ handed down by prophets. The masses have been so thoroughly indoctrinated to revere this instrument as "the law of the land" that the advocacy of such heresy will compel many of them to burn us at the stake. But there were many people at the time who predicted that the adoption of the Constitution would lead to a tyrannical centralized government. They perused the document carefully and saw that there were simply no limits on the power of the government written in the document.

I encourage you to do the same. Sit down and really examine this document. Then tell me where these limits on power are and how it protects our natural rights. Moreover, reveal to me what penalties the Constitution recommends when the president or Congress or the Supreme Court violates the document because I have yet to find them. Who will enforce these penalties and how? Just how are checks and balances supposed to work if all three branches decide to violate the limits of the Constitution? How are checks and balances supposed to work if all three branches disagree among themselves? Who will enforce the Constitution in these cases? These are questions that 99.9 percent of Americans do not ask themselves when reading the document.

The State has so indoctrinated the people that they read the document the way the State wants. That is, they believe that the State is the ultimate judge of its own powers and they then hope that through the democratic process they can elect officials who will permit them to exercise their freedoms as they wish. This ideology reflects the deeper indoctrination which infects the minds of Americans: they believe that the State is the granter of their rights. A minority of people can dictate to the majority what their rights and freedoms are and how they can be exercised. This is not the ideology of the Declaration of Independence, which claims that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Therefore, we must recognize the truth of Hans Hoppe's claim: "the Constitution is itself unconstitutional, i.e., incompatible with the very doctrine of natural human rights that inspired the American Revolution."

This ideology has led the American people to choose political slavery over freedom. Many Americans do not see their lives as such because they define slavery as men and women being physically chained against their will and forced to work in fields. However, the difference between political slavery and chattel slavery is one of degree and not kind. The 19thcentury abolitionist Lysander Spooner and author of No Treason-The Constitution of No Authority commented on this, saying that both political and chattel slavery deny "a man's ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and [assert] that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure."

This truth that there were opponents of the Constitution must be told to the American people if we are to have any hope of desanctifying the Constitution and delegitimizing the State. Perhaps some would become distrustful of the State if they learned that there were people at the time who were also distrustful of the State, especially when the State was so much smaller than the Leviathan under which we now live. To paraphrase Spooner, the centralized State is a direct result of the Constitution. It either created this government or it is powerless to stop it. “In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

2:33 pm on December 11, 2008