The Constitution of the United States is the frame work for our nation. It is not a tremendously long document, but it is incredibly important.
Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States have to take two oaths before assuming office. This is one of them, the other is not pertinent to today’s post.
“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
One would think that having raised their hand and sworn the oath as above, a Justice would understand what the Constitution is about as well as what’s written in it and the first ten amendments thereto.
One would be wrong, I guess.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg apparently has decided that the Constitution is some outdated piece of parchment and should be discarded like a used tissue.
At least that’s what she seemed to say in this interview from 2012. She was asked about a new constitution for Egypt which had recently voted out it’s long time leader and installed a member of the Muslim Brotherhood as President. For those who don’t know, the Muslim Brotherhood is an international organization that has as it’s primary goal the imposition of an Islamic Caliphate. Not just in Egypt or other Muslim countries, but across the length and breadth of the planet.
Here is the interview. There are a number of frankly stupid comments and suggestions. From a woman who is supposed to be one of the best judges in the world, but sounds more like someone’s slightly “off” grandmother.
I’m going to take some of the quotes from this article and comment on them. I have to say that Justice Ginsburg really seems clueless at many points.
“I can’t speak to what the Egyptian experience should be…”
I can. Mohamed Morsi was elected President in June of 2012. He quickly moved to turn Egypt into a theocratic state and there was concern he wanted to reignite ware with Israel. Within a year there were massive protests of the new government and in July of 2013 the military seized control of the government. Morsi was arrested and is currently in prison. The new constitution was suspended by the government and remains so.
All of which is far less likely to happen under our antiquated Constitution.
“… and yet we have the oldest written Constitution still in force in the world.”
There is a reason for that. It works. Many civilized nations don’t have written Constitutions, and some of the most barbaric ones on the planet do.
The reason that ours is different and works is because it has provisions for amendment. When the main body of the Constitution was drafted, there was serious concern that while it provided a framework for how the government would run, it did nothing to protect individual rights. As a result, the first ten amendments “The Bill of Rights” were added to the main body. The rights enumerated in them were meant to limit the power of the federal government, leave most matters to the individual states, and to protect individuals in their expression of their rights.
For those interested, here is the language laying out how to amend the Constitution.
Article V (Article 5 – Mode of Amendment)
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
It’s not particularly easy to amend the Constitution, nor should it be. Only matters of great importance should impel the nation to alter it’s basic framework. Which has happened 27 times so far, including once when a silly amendment outlawing the possession, manufacturer, and use of alcoholic beverages was repealed. Silly that.
“So the spirit of liberty has to be in the population.”
I agree with her in this and her immediately previous statement. The problem being that many people have never experienced liberty and don’t understand the concept. That is more problematic in some parts of the world where the ordinary person has never experienced liberty or been taught about it. Liberty is a high level aspiration and often falls by the wayside for any number of reasons.
“I would not look to the US Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.”
Why not? It works well. It is why we are the nation we are.
“I might look at the constitution of South Africa.”
Really. Of course this interview was in early 2012, but what has been happening in South Africa over the past several years isn’t a grand endorsement of their government.
Here is a link to Section 25 of the South African Bill of Rights. This deals with property rights. Read through it and then read this,
‘The time for reconciliation is over’: South Africa votes to confiscate white-owned land without compensation
SOUTH Africa’s parliament has voted in favour of a motion that will begin the process of amending the country’s Constitution to allow for the confiscation of white-owned land without compensation.
The motion was brought by Julius Malema, leader of the radical Marxist opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters, and passed overwhelmingly by 241 votes to 83 against. The only parties who did not support the motion were the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, Cope and the African Christian Democratic Party.
It was amended but supported by the ruling African National Congress and new president Cyril Ramaphosa, who made land expropriation a key pillar of his policy platform after taking over from ousted PM Jacob Zuma earlier this month.
“The time for reconciliation is over. Now is the time for justice,” Mr Malema was quoted by News24 as telling parliament. “We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land.”
This is the form of government that Justice Ginsburg wants emerging nations to emulate. How’s that working out in South Africa?
She goes on to talk about the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms from 1982. Canada, where you can be charged and convicted by a “Human Rights Commission” without being able to mount an effective defense. Where you can be jailed for “hate speech” which is any speech that someone unelected bureaucrat doesn’t like.
Then she cites the European Convention on Human Rights. Keep in mind that nowhere in the European Union is there anything resembling either the First or Second Amendments. In all of those countries you can be put in jail for “hate speech” and the press can be censored or gagged by the courts. While that can happen in the United States, it’s rare and subject to appeal in a higher court.
The Constitutions that she professes to love are documents that concentrate power in the hands of the government. They can decide, mostly on a whim, that certain speech is “hateful” and thus prohibited.
Not to mention the total lack of anything resembling the Second Amendment.
No thanks, Justice Ginsburg. I’ll take my ancient Constitution with it’s funny spelling and arcane wording. It works just fine for me.