Liberals have attacked Chief Justice Roy Moore for standing his ground against federal encroachment on the state of Alabama. Moore has made a constitutional case for his stand based on the fact that the federal constitution does not mention marriage, and what the Constitution does not mention, the courts have no right to regulate. In addition, the Tenth Amendment makes it clear that powers not enumerated in Constitution remain with the states:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”
Finally, marriage is a God-defined ordinance that should be protected and guarded by the civil magistrates.
Moore is arguing constitutionally. He’s following the law as it is written. He’s functioning as a duly elected judicial representative of the state of Alabama that voted overwhelmingly (81%) to forbid same-sex marriage.
Now we learn that a good percent of “likely voters . . . think that the President should have the right to ignore court rulings if they stand in the way of actions he feels are ‘important.’” The numbers are higher when only Democrats are factored in:
“The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 26% of Likely U.S. Voters think the president should have the right to ignore federal court rulings if they are standing in the way of actions he feels are important for the country…
“But perhaps more unsettling to supporters of constitutional checks and balances is the finding that 43% of Democrats believe the president should have the right to ignore the courts. Only 35% of voters in President Obama’s party disagree, compared to 81% of Republicans and 67% of voters not affiliated with either major party…
“[W]hile 72% of GOP voters and 63% of unaffiliateds believe it is more important to preserve our constitutional system of checks and balances than for the federal government to operate efficiently, Democrats are evenly divided…
“Women and younger voters feel more strongly than men and those 40 and older that the president should have the right to ignore federal court rulings. Black voters believe that more than whites and other minority voters do.”
While Roy Moore is following the law as written, a majority of Democrats have not offered a single constitutional justification for a president to ignore the decisions of the courts.
As long as their president is implementing their goals, they have happy with his unilateral executive decisions.
It’s not enough to argue that “president should have the right to ignore federal court rulings if they are standing in the way of actions he feels are important for the country.” Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro, and Josef Stalin believed that their actions were important for their country. Once in power, dictators can eliminate any checks and balances that were put into place in order to dilute the authority of a president. He can do this based on the operating premise that they would inhibit him from doing what he believes is best for the country.
The reason written constitutions were implemented was so the whims and fancies of political leaders would be stopped. As Raoul Berger has written:
“Fearful of the greedy lust for ever more power, the Founders resorted to a written Constitution in order, Chief Justice Marshall stated, to ‘define and limit’ the power they delegated, reflected in Jefferson’s urgent admonition to bind the delegates ‘down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.’ If it was to serve its purpose, the Constitution had to be ‘fixed,’ unalterable save by amendment, the more so because it expressed the consent of the people, who chose ‘to be governed,’ in the words of a prominent Founder, James Iredell, ‘under such and such principles. They have not chosen to be governed or promised to submit upon any other.’”1
- Raoul Berger, Federalism: The Founders’ Design (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987), 47. [↩]