After following the various news reports and posts regarding various interpretations of what is constitutional, I have decided to coin a new phrase.
So what is a “Selective Constitutionalist”? It’s someone who wants the US Constitution upheld to the letter, right up until they don’t. Let me give you an example:
After the Times Square bombing attempt, a raft of politicians were all up in arms about the attempted bomber being read his Miranda rights. Never mind that those rights are guaranteed by the Constitution. So the very next day, a proposal for a new law was put forward – use the terrorism watch list to restrict weapons sales. Makes sense – you’ve identified someone as perhaps having a terrorist affiliation, he shouldn’t be able to buy a gun. Funny thing is, the guys who were so quick to throw out individual rights were now claiming that prohibiting gun sales to terrorists would abridge 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. This is the definition of Selective Constitutionalism. Don’t infringe on one set, but go ahead and violate the others. They pick and choose which set of rights works for the the moment.
And this is just one example. You’ll get folks who want to protect free speech, but then want to squelch anyone who speaks out against them. Folks who want to violate 4th Amendment protections against unwarranted search and seizure, but want to investigate whether the President of the United States is following the Constitution when it comes to eligibility for election. And on and on.
Me, I’m about the Constitution. There are some things the founding fathers could not have possibly foreseen, and yet, the Constitution addresses even the most modern issues fairly well. That having been said, I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the Constitution. Neither did the founding fathers. It’s why they gave the ability to amend it. The Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments, came fairly quickly. Why? Because the guys who wrote the Constitution realized it didn’t quite cover everything. And since then we’ve amended it whenever it was determined that a true need had to be addressed.
It’s not easy to amend the Constitution. It’s not supposed to be. It’s a serious matter. That’s why it’s absolutely nuts when you hear talk of amendments to outlaw gay marriage, disguised as “Defense of Marriage”. The Constitution isn’t designed to be a political tool to advance a political ideology. It is aÂ set of guidelines and hard and fast rules by which to govern. It is open to some interpretation, and that’s what the Supreme Court is for. They really don’t judge cases – they interpret law as it applies in terms of the Constitution. They are the gatekeepers, in a sense, making sure that the principles delineated in the Constitution are upheld. And those are the folks I really don’t want to be “Selective Constitutionalists”.
So bottom line – the Constitution is the law, or it’s not. Abide by it, or get it changed. But you don’t get to choose which parts you like and which you just throw out.