Where was the Constitution?


Dr. Harold Pease - Contributing Columnist



Eleven debaters gathered at the Reagan Library Sept. 16, to share their plans and visions for our future. Each extolled the virtues of Ronald Reagan and claimed to be more Reagan-like than any of their competitors. Countries discussed included Russia, Iran, China, Syria and Israel. And topics seen to be most important were mostly centered on illegal immigration, Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, and the use of marijuana. But where was the Constitution in the debate?

All were important concerns, but minimized was how these and other concerns might be addressed using the Constitution — the government’s rulebook. After all, the next day, Sept. 17, was Constitution Day throughout the United States. This especially in light of the fact that the last four presidents, two Republican and two Democrat, largely ignored the Constitution in problem solving going far beyond its restrictive boundaries.

I carefully took note of who did and did not, use the word Constitution, or references to it, in the three-hour debate. Three: Dr. Ben Carson and Governors John Kasich and Chris Christie, never used or referenced the word. Governor Scott Walker said the word Constitution once, but did not attach it to a specific part of the document. Governor Jeb Bush also used the word without attachment, but a second use was attached to his support for gun rights. Senator Marco Rubio did not use the word, but identified himself in support of the 2nd Amendment.

Carly Fiorina used the word twice, but negated both immediately thereafter with comments clearly showing that she had no understanding of the use verses the issue. The issue was the use of marijuana and federal enforcement. One cannot be for the Tenth Amendment, which leaves all areas not specifically mentioned in Article I, Section 8 to the states alone, and advocated the existence of federal authority not in the Constitution. There exists no constitutional authority for drug enforcement on the federal level. She, Bush, and Kasich received serious negatives on their understanding of the Constitution on this point. She did reference Lady Liberty and Lady Justice but made no attachment with respect to the Constitution with either. She is no doubt sincere in her use of liberty symbols but her generalities did not demonstrate depth in what liberty and justice actually mean.

Outside the Bush and Rubio support for the 2nd Amendment, I found little hope that these seven presidential candidates would give first consideration to the Constitution in problem solving. At least three of these lacked understanding of the Tenth Amendment. This is very serious. On constitutional issues, based upon this debate at this time, I cannot recommend any of these candidates for this office.

Donald Trump is a bit of a mystery for numerous reasons. But on the issue of birthright citizenship not being in the 14th Amendment, he is spot on. In fact, in previous columns I have carefully documented how the amendment’s founders were specifically denying such. His only use of the word Constitution was with respect to this issue. Because this fact is not well known, it is strange that a businessman who probably benefited from the common distorted belief would either know this, or so passionately defend this view. He made no other reference to the Constitution in problem solving in any other issue thus, as with the others afore mentioned, I expect to write many columns showing his subsequent violations of the document should he become president. But on this one issue he has the ear of someone who understands the Constitution, which gives me some small hope that he will continue to listen to a constitutionalist on other issues as well, but there exist no guarantees.

Three presidential candidates stand out with promise that they will use the Constitution in problem solving: Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Gov. Mike Huckabee. Huckabee used the word freedom but did not elaborate. He also used the word Constitution twice but more often used constitutional references specifically citing the current threat to Amendments 1, 2 and 10. He condemned the recent Supreme Court same sex marriage decision and the attack on Kentucky clerk Kim Davis with respect to freedom of conscience in her not authorizing such marriages with her name on the certificate.

Sen. Ted Cruz opened with a reference to our losing freedom. He used the word Constitution with respect to its needing defended. He regretted Justice John Roberts backing down from defending the Constitution on healthcare and same sex marriage, although Bush reminded Cruz that he had written a letter of support in the nomination of Roberts. He identified himself as for the 2nd Amendment and in his closing statement promised to defend the Constitution.

Sen. Rand Paul’s opening statement identified him as one who would defend the Constitution as first concern. He used the word twice more, one acknowledging that there was no birthright citizenship in the 14th Amendment, and that we have not followed the Constitution with respect to declaring war. He cited our failure to be guided by the 10th Amendment three times, mostly with respect to the approved use of drugs in the states verses the federal government inclination to mandate a power not given it.

Although this is but a small sampling of the importance of the Constitution to the eleven presidential contenders, I fear that these indicators will not change in a year. My bigger fear is that by then the three who really value the document will have dropped out for lack of support and that the Constitution will continue to be eroded.

To read more of Dr. Harold Pease’s weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

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Dr. Harold Pease

Contributing Columnist

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