Teaching Civic Virtue


Today, we have in our society a crisis.  I’m not talking about the debt crisis, though that certainly qualifies, but a crisis in our very attitudes as Americans.  We used to believe in ourselves and in our founding principles but those values have slowly eroded to the point of nonexistence.

George Washington reminded us in his famous Farewell Address in 1796 that “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

Washington was right but sadly, we seem to have lost the battle over our local schools, particularly the right to teach what we want, especially the Ten Commandments.  We can’t even post them in the halls without out the threat of a lawsuit and a court rebuke.  Though we can fight to win them back, the process will take years, if not decades. Continue reading

The Evolving View of Government


“The lesson should constantly be enforced,” wrote President Grover Cleveland in 1887, “that though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people.”

Cleveland made this pronouncement as he vetoed the Texas Seed Bill, a small $10,000 appropriation aimed at providing assistance to drought-stricken farmers in the Lone Star State.

The Constitution did not allow the federal government to spend money on public charity, the Jeffersonian Cleveland believed, and if Washington started down the road of paternalism, where would it end?

Such strict construction of the Constitution, a source of pride for true conservatives, drives leftwing scholars and pundits crazy, causing them to denigrate any President who had the temerity to believe in such “outdated” and “old fashioned” thinking.

For Jack Beatty, a senior editor of The Atlantic Monthly, an analyst on NPR, and author of The Age of Betrayal:  The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900, such views raise important questions:

“Why did the people support a government that on principle refused to support them, that wouldn’t spend pennies to save farmers from ruin?” he asked.  “Why return to office politicians like Cleveland, who vetoed three times as many bills in one term as all his predecessors combined?  What had gone wrong with the Republican experiment in positive government for the country to settle for negative government?”

Beatty believes, not in the conservative principles of Thomas Jefferson, but those of the more liberal Abraham Lincoln, a philosophy that is an antithesis to Cleveland’s.  Lincoln had broken the old Jeffersonian mold and provided a new view of the role of government in the every day lives of the people.  He once said, “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities.”

Which begs another question:  Who decides what the people can or cannot do for themselves?  Or if they can do it good enough to suit the government?

Ultimately the people rejected the Lincoln line of thinking in favor of conservatism, at least for a while.  Nineteenth century Americans, and their early 20th century brethren, did not believe in an active, or positive, government.  The American Revolution, contrary to Beatty’s thinking, was not about creating an energetic government.  Our forebears held true to the Jeffersonian admonition, “That government is best which governs least.”

The Jeffersonian view carried over into the early 20th century.

In 1927, the Mississippi River overflowed its banks in one of the worst floods in the nation’s history.  Herbert Hoover, a great engineer and Commerce Secretary under President Calvin Coolidge, traveled to the South to offer his assistance.  But unlike the situation in New Orleans eight decades later with Hurricane Katrina, local people told Hoover to leave.  They did not trust the federal government and did not want out-of-town bureaucrats sticking their noses in local affairs.

People in those days had honor and pride, believing they could handle their own problems.  There were no shouts of “help” from stranded citizens who suffered from the severe flooding, as we saw around the Superdome.  They understood that with government aid also came government rules, regulation, oversight, and control.  Once the government got in, it might be next to impossible to get them out.

It was not until the horrible period of the Great Depression in the 1930s, when the economy nearly imploded, that Americans, for the first time, began to look to government for every day things.  FDR used massive government aid to help people affected by the depression, the first direct assistance in U.S. history.

From that point on, a dependence on government grew within the American people and has continued to increase.

Americans have evolved from a freedom-loving people that looked to themselves for their own livelihood to believing that government has a positive role to play in society.

The Constitution, earlier Americans correctly understood, does not contain any language that allows the government to spend money for public assistance.  It was always held to be unconstitutional to tax one group of citizens and give it to another.

But all that has changed now and the situation is much worse.  It has recently been reported that government handouts equal 35 percent of all wages in the United States.  In 1960 the figure was just 10 percent.  Forty-four million Americans are now on food stamps and fifty million receive Medicaid.  Today, fifty-eight percent of all government spending is on entitlement programs.

But what is even scarier is that it seems as if a majority of Americans believe the federal government should have at least some positive role in the lives of the people.  Many believe the government should take care of its citizens from cradle to grave.  Early Americans would have thought such thinking downright dangerous.

President Cleveland, in the late 19th century, could foresee a potential threat to limited government if Washington got in the handout business.  He took the opportunity in his second inaugural address to remind the people that the “lessons of paternalism ought to be unlearned,” he said.  “Every thoughtful American must realize the importance of checking at its beginning any tendency in public or private station to regard frugality and economy as virtues which we may safely outgrow. The toleration of this idea results in the waste of the people’s money by their chosen servants and encourages prodigality and extravagance in the home life of our countrymen.”

In our time of near-bankruptcy, America would do well to elect a president in the mold of Cleveland, one who will stop the wealth re-distribution scheme in full swing in Washington and return our nation to the ideals and values that made it great.

 

Tales From The Liberal Playbook


From studying American political history, it seems as if liberals have a secret playbook and have been using it from the early days of the Republic, handing it down to each succeeding generation.

Liberals seem to know exactly what to do when any situation arises and history is full of interesting parallels.

1.  Use the Cover of a Crisis to Implement Your Agenda and Smash Your Political Enemies.

America’s first political party, the Federalists, the Party of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams, led the nation from 1789 to 1801, a period of twelve years that included control of the presidency and both houses of Congress.

The liberal party of its day, Federalist lawmakers imposed a wide variety of direct taxes upon the people, centralized the banking system, and ran rough shod over the new Bill of Rights with their crown jewel – the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.

With a quasi-war brewing with France, and with the hysteria it was causing, these acts were supposedly enacted to help secure and protect the homeland.  But the left has long used deceit to hide their true intentions, particularly during a crisis.  The real target was Thomas Jefferson’s Republican opposition.

The Alien and Sedition Acts consisted of four bills, three of which were specifically designed to weaken the Jeffersonians.

The Naturalization Act raised the period of residence required for citizenship from five years to fourteen years.  The reason for this was quite simple – a majority of new immigrants from Europe were joining the Republicans.

The Alien Act authorized the president to summarily deport any aliens, regardless of country, that he deemed dangerous “to the peace and safety” of the United States.  Under the act, aliens would not receive a jury trial and the president was not required to explain or justify his decision.  Jefferson considered the bill “worthy of the eighth or ninth century.”  Like the Naturalization Act, the Alien Act was one of pure political partisanship.

The most controversial was the Sedition Act.  It provided fines of up to $2,000 and jail sentences of up to two years for anyone who publicly criticized the president, members of Congress, or other administration officials, by publishing “false, scandalous and malicious” accusations.  It was a clear violation of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, taking aim at Republican newspapers, which were springing up all over the nation.

After the Senate passed the Sedition Act, ironically on July 4, 1798, Federalist leaders toasted the president:  “John Adams.  May he, like Samson, slay thousands of Frenchmen with the jawbone of Jefferson.”

Under this act, a number of Jeffersonian newspaper editors were charged with sedition, and those brought to trial were convicted, fined, and sent to prison.

Congress also established sunset provisions for most of these new laws, allowing them to expire just after the 1800 elections when Adams would have secured a second term.  If Federalists retained power, those laws would no longer be necessary.  This shows the level of politics attached to the new acts.

But despite administration efforts to maintain power, the people rose up against what Jefferson called “a reign of witches,” and ousted the Federalist Party from the White House and both Houses of Congress.  The party never again held power.

FDR used the Great Depression to “reform” capitalism with a litany of new government programs and newly discovered powers.  The social welfare state we now live in was born in the 1930s.

And as we well recall, Obama’s former chief of staff, now Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, famously said during the economic panic, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”  This is liberal thinking in its finest.  They simply cannot express what they really want to do so they use a crisis as a way to pass laws they know the people will not support, like massive bank bailouts, stimulus spending packages, and financial regulatory bills to take more control over the nation’s economy.

But we must always remember what James Madison once said, “Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.”

2.  When You Can’t Legislate Your Agenda, Use the Judiciary to Impose It.

Though the Federalists were routed in the 1800 elections, they were not down and out, but had one last trick up their sleeve – impose their agenda by judicial fiat, which is why liberals insist on a strong court system.

To keep Federalist policies in place, President Adams, in his last days in the White House, appointed a wealth of Federalist judges in the many new courts the out-going Federalist-controlled Congress hastily created.  They became known as Adams’ “midnight judges,” most of whom were named during the last night he resided in the Executive Mansion.

Adams also appointed John Marshall to the Chief Justiceship of the Supreme Court, a fierce proponent of nationalism.  Marshall used judicial power to solidify the Federalist agenda of centralizing power in Washington.  He never found a federal right he did not like.

Jefferson and Republicans in Congress fought hard to undue the Federalist-dominated judiciary with some success, but were unable to overturn it completely.

And for that, we have been living with a left-of-center judiciary nearly every step of the way.  The courts have imposed abortion rights, stripped prayer from schools, expanded eminent domain, limited property rights, interfered in state affairs, and generally caused mayhem, all in the name of liberalism.

3.  Smear, Slander, and Shame Your Enemies, Especially to Guard the All Important Supreme Court.

When it comes to conservative judges, especially for justices of the Supreme Court, liberals have vilified them in vicious personal attacks and smear campaigns in the hopes of protecting the one branch of government not subject to popular sovereignty.  By keeping the Court left of center, liberals can write laws from the bench and implement their unpopular policy goals with no opposition.

But to do that they must maintain control of the court system, especially the High Court, at all costs.

In 1888, in an effort to help end sectional tensions, President Grover Cleveland appointed Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar of Mississippi to an associate position on the United States Supreme Court.

Congressional liberals, mainly from the North, attacked Lamar, not as a Southerner, which they hated, but as “unqualified” to sit on the High Court.  One Massachusetts Senator opposed Lamar “not because I doubted his eminent integrity and ability, but because I thought that he had little professional experience and no judicial experience.”

The San Francisco Chronicle believed Lamar leaned “naturally and spontaneously to the side of the strong against the weak.  He is a friend of monopolies.”

The name Bork, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, or Alito could have been substituted for Lamar with little difference.  The attacks against conservative nominees to the Court have been nothing short of vicious.  And the left says it’s the right that is “mean spirited.”

4.  Use Deceit to Mask Your Real Intentions.

Liberals have always been disingenuous about their real goals.

In the 1890s, the left sought to implement an inflationary monetary policy based on the free and unlimited coinage of silver.  The nation was on the gold standard, but liberals wanted to inflate the currency supply with cheaper paper money and silver coins.  They claimed to want a system of bi-metallism, allowing both gold and silver to circulate, but in reality sought to replace gold, the money of the bankers they claimed, with silver, money for the poor.

Inflation, they contended, would help the poor, especially the nation’s farmers, who were in perpetual debt.  Inflating the currency with cheaper dollars would make it easier to pay those debts.

But Gresham’s Law states that “bad money drives good money out of circulation.”  This economic rule would allow the left to get what it wanted without actually having to legislate it.

They could not advocate a silver standard, so they sought a sneaky way to implement it.  If enough silver entered circulation, Gresham’s Law would kick in, eventually driving out gold, because people would hoard it, and the nation would be placed on a silver standard.

The plan failed, however, because the people did not want it and the gold standard was saved at the ballot box by electing a string of gold standard presidents.

Does this tactic sound familiar?

The Obama-Reid-Pelosi Administration did exactly the same thing with the 2010 Health Care Bill.  They wanted a “single payer” government run system but could not get it passed, so they instituted a “public option” in the name of “competition.”

But no private insurance company can ever hope to compete with the government, which does not have to worry about making a profit and can always draw from the public trough to make up any shortfalls.

Knowing full well that any government system would spike health insurance costs, Democrats hope that businesses will be forced, out of necessity, to drop their increasingly expensive private plans in favor of the cheaper public option, eventually placing the country under a “single payer” health care system.

Liberal Democrats claim they are against monopolies and the big insurance companies, which are supposedly in the pockets of the Republicans.  But it was conservatives who sought to end the state monopolies for health insurance companies, forcing them to compete nation-wide, a move that would dramatically lower the cost of premiums.  The left, as well as the insurance companies, have fought this idea tooth and nail.

So who really favors monopolies and the insurance companies?

5.  When All Else Fails, Use Class Warfare and Denigrate the Rich.

Democrats used a similar strategy of deceit to kill the flat tax proposal but eventually pulled out one of their oldest cards to finish it off – the Class Card.

The federal tax code is so dense and cumbersome that members of the House Ways and Means Committee do not even understand it, nor does the IRS.

One conservative plan is the flat tax, which would abolish the entire code and implement one flat rate for everyone.  Gone would be the thick and burdensome forms, to be replaced by a simple index card, whether for a business or an individual.  Wherever this plan has been enacted, the economy has soared.

Democrats immediately pounced on the idea as a sop to the rich.  But is it?

The plan gives generous personal exemptions for families and children.  For instance, under one proposal each adult would get a personal tax exemption of $17,500 and $5,000 per child.  The tax rate would be 17 percent.

So let’s look at two families, each with two parents and two children.

Family A makes $50,000 a year.  The exemptions would total $45,000 ($17,500 for each parent and $5,000 per child), meaning no tax would be assessed on that amount.  So Family A would pay 17 percent of the remaining $5,000 for a total tax bill of $850, much less than they are paying now.  If they added another child, the tax bill would fall to zero.

Family B makes $1,000,000 a year.  But they receive the same exemption of $45,000, meaning they pay 17 percent of the remaining $955,000 for a total tax bill of $162,350.  If they added another child, their tax bill would only fall to $161,500.

So who really benefits from this plan and who are Democrats actually protecting?

Liberals, even though they condemn Wall Street and the “rich,” have been among their strongest backers.  Remember, it was mostly conservative Republicans who fiercely opposed the bank bailouts and liberal Democrats who wanted to make the package larger.

These are just a few examples to demonstrate how liberals have been sticking to the script for more than 200 years.  They use tried-and-true methods because the right falls for it every time.  But Sun Tzu’s rule, “Know Your Enemy,” should be on the mind of every conservative when it comes to liberals and their playbook, and a working knowledge of American political history will provide that knowledge.

Presidential Decorum


Presidents today are seen, not as statesmen, but as celebrities.   All too often we elect leaders based on style, personality, and even looks, but not on qualities that really matter.  And with that, our presidents act accordingly, not like the chief executive of a republic but more in the role of a monarch.

This was evident from the beginning.  George Washington, the Father of the Country, could have, had he desired it, become king of the new nation.  He had that kind of popularity.  Fortunately for America, he also had a wealth of integrity and would not assume any such position for himself.

But Washington did place himself high above the people when we served as the nation’s first president.

He dressed extravagantly for his inauguration and arrived at the ceremony in an elaborate carriage pulled by a team of six white horses, the fancy limousine of its day.  As president, he even refused to shake hands with people, preferring instead to bow.

John Adams loved the idea of being president and, along with Alexander Hamilton, desired the office to be like that of a king.  He arrived at his inaugural in a fancy, horse-drawn carriage and wearing a lavish ceremonial sword and cockade, along with a powdered wig.

Adams even wanted to give the president an elaborate title, “His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of their Liberties.”  But Congress wisely rejected it.

When Thomas Jefferson became the third president in the election of 1800, he set out to change it all.  He feared the presidency was already becoming like a monarchy.

On inauguration day, he would not be driven to his ceremony in a carriage, but instead chose to walk from his boarding room to the Capitol.  He wore a simple suit and what he termed “republican” shoes, which did not have a buckle, considered aristocratic in his day, but laced instead.

As president, Jefferson refused to deliver the State of the Union message to Congress, preferring to send a written copy instead, because he felt the practice of a public speech resembled the King of England’s address to Parliament to open its sessions.

Jefferson had no servants to speak of in the White House, preferring to answer the front door himself, no matter what he was wearing at the time.  He dressed in plain suits and served food and wine to his guests rather than having a servant do it.  He also took out the rectangular dining table in favor of a circular one, so all who dined would seemingly be equal.  Jefferson always wanted to be seen as a man of the people.

After the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant, the great hero throughout the North, won the presidency in 1868.  He loved the pomp and pageantry of the presidency, bringing back much of its grandeur.  He owned an extravagant carriage, palled around with the rich and famous, and vacationed in fancy resorts.  He loved it so much that he earnestly desired a third term but could not get it, mainly because his two-term administration was thoroughly corrupt.  Had he been allowed to continue in office, it is quite likely he would have remained until the day he died, just as FDR did.

Chester A. Arthur, who served as president from 1881 to 1885, was even worse than Grant.  Arthur was a dandy who loved the finer things in life and was not shy about it either.  He loved nothing more than shopping for new clothes.  He wore the latest fashions, perfumed his aristocratic whiskers, and sported expensive jewelry, a top hat and cane.  After winning the vice presidency, he went on an elaborate spending spree at Brooks Brothers, purchasing over $700 on new suits, a massive amount of money in the 1880s.

When he arrived in the Executive Mansion, Arthur was disgusted with what he found and almost refused to live there.  To bring the White House up to his standards, he spent lavishly on new furniture and decorations for the home.  He added valets, butlers, a French chef, and other servants befitting his notion of a head of state.

Mrs. James G. Blaine dined one evening with President Arthur, writing later that the “dinner was extremely elegant,” with “hardly a trace of the old White House taint being perceptible anywhere.”  The “flowers, the silver, the attendants, all showing the latest style…in expense and taste.”

Grover Cleveland, a Jeffersonian Democrat, sought to bring back a degree of simplicity to the White House when he assumed the presidency from Arthur in 1885.

Cleveland did not like what he called the “purely ornamental part of the office.”  He personally did not like luxuries, but especially while serving the people.  He particularly detested lavish parties and gatherings.  He got rid of all the servants Arthur had hired, as well as the chef.

Once, when invited to the ballpark to attend a baseball game, he politely turned down the offer, telling the team’s manager, “What do you think the American people would think of me if I wasted my time going to a ball game?”

Oh how we need such a man in the Oval Office today.

But instead we have President Barack Obama, who has taken the concept of the “celebrity president” to new heights.

The entirety of his 2008 campaign, as well as his short stint in the White House thus far, is a testament to this irrefutable fact.

To gain the presidency, Obama spent lavishly and raised a record $745 million.  According to a report out last week, Obama is laying plans for a $1 billion re-election campaign in 2012.  This is more than obscene.  It’s downright repulsive.  Anyone who would spend that kind of money has no business occupying the nation’s highest and noblest office.

While president, Obama has also spent extravagantly on fancy parties and gatherings.  His inauguration alone cost $170 million.

Within three weeks of entering the White House, Obama threw an expensive cocktail party in which Wagyu steak was served, a Japanese variety costing $125 per pound.  It’s one of the most expensive steaks in the world.

Entertainers such as Jennifer Lopez, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, Martina McBride, Alison Kraus, Brad Paisley, Charley Pride, Seal, Sheryl Crow, Smokey Robinson, and John Legend, just to name a few, have preformed for the First Couple.  The White House also put on a Fiesta Latina night.

He has also thrown two lavish Super Bowl parties, serving food the First Lady has preached that we should not eat – bratwurst, cheeseburgers, deep dish pizza, buffalo wings, twice baked potatoes, ice cream, and beer, all at his latest bash.

Obama also broke the record for first-year president in foreign travel, visiting 20 nations.  By the end of his second year, he had spent a total of 58 days in 33 foreign countries, another record.

While the nation has been in an economic crisis, and is now dealing with a crisis in the Middle East, Obama recently took his 60th golf outing this past weekend, already more than the entire eight years of George W. Bush, who took a beating in the media for any trips to the links.

It was also announced recently that the Obamas fly in a personal trainer from Chicago every week to keep the family in top shape.

All of this while the unemployment rate climbed above 10 percent.

According to Nile Gardiner, of the London Telegraph, the Obama administration “resembles a modern Ancien Regime,” the corrupt, party-driven reign of Louis XVI that led to the French Revolution.

What we need is the return of a little Jeffersonian simplicity in the White House and elect a president unconcerned about his image or entertaining himself.  The 45th President of the United States should be more concerned about the great problems facing the nation.  We need a man of the people, not a king.

 

Last Among Equals


President Obama recently announced that his administration would no longer defend the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Whether one agrees with Obama or not on this issue, or with his tactic, it goes to the heart of a far more important and lasting question – which branch of government rightfully has the exclusive authority to interpret the Constitution and the laws of the United States?

Most contend that the power resides with the Supreme Court, even many conservatives.  Kenneth Starr has even referred to the Supreme Court as a “first among equals,” and while I have great respect for him, he is simply wrong in this regard.

Historically, such an opinion has no basis in fact.

The Supreme Court was never designated as the strongest of the three branches.  In fact, until the 1930s, it did not even have its own building, but met in the basement of the Capitol, or where ever Congress allowed them to meet.

This was not by mistake but intentional.  When examining a copy of the original map of the City of Washington, drawn up by its planners, one will find that no Supreme Court building exists.

It is also not an accident that provisions for the Supreme Court were placed in Article 3 of the Constitution, while Congress, intended to be the stronger of the three branches, was mentioned in Article 1, while the Office of the President was established in Article 2.

Furthermore, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 proposed a Council of Revision, a body that also included a supreme tribunal and would be armed with a veto power over all national and state laws.  The Council had the authority to review every law passed throughout the Union and to decide what would be allowed and what would not be.  The convention ultimately rejected the idea.

In a modified version, the proposed power was eventually split.  The Convention created both the Supreme Court, to exercise all judicial powers in cases brought before it, and a President who would take care of executive responsibilities, including the power to veto, or reject, bills passed by Congress.  The Supreme Court was not entrusted with such power.

The Court does not legally possess nearly the power it has usurped today, and does not have an exclusive right to interpret laws and the Constitution.  There is nothing in the entirety of Article 3 of the Constitution that gives federal courts that power.

Chief Justice John Marshall, in the case of Marbury v. Madison in 1803, assumed for the Supreme Court the power of judicial review, that is to make the final decision on the constitutionality of all laws.

The decision angered President Thomas Jefferson, who believed the federal courts, then under Federalist judges, were establishing a judicial tyranny over the rest of the government.

“The Constitution… meant that its coordinate branches should be checks on each other,” he said.  “But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.”

Jefferson himself was skeptical of the right of the Supreme Court to exercise judicial review.  “The question whether the judges are invested with exclusive authority to decide on the constitutionality of a law has been heretofore a subject of consideration with me in the exercise of official duties. Certainly there is not a word in the Constitution which has given that power to them more than to the Executive or Legislative branches.”

Other presidents had similar opinions and took even harsher action when the Court interfered with the responsibilities of the executive.

Andrew Jackson had absolutely no respect for John Marshall or the Supreme Court.  In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act.  Georgia decided to remove the Cherokees within its borders but the Court sided with the Indians.  Jackson reacted angrily.  “Marshall has made his decision,” he said, “now let him enforce it.”  Jackson removed the Indians in defiance of the Court.

Jackson knew what many have forgotten.  “Courts have no law enforcement powers,” he wrote, “that is the prerogative of the executive alone.”

Abraham Lincoln also understood this fact and responded with even more anger when Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that the President had exceeded his constitutional authority in waging war.  Lincoln even went so far as to write out an arrest order to have Taney detained, though the warrant was never acted upon.  President Lincoln simply ignored the Chief Justice and the Court.

Presidents have also used one of their strongest weapons, the veto pen, to rule on the constitutionality of laws.

Under Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution, the President is given the power to veto, or reject, congressional acts.  “Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated….”

Early American Presidents believed they had a duty to determine the constitutionality of federal laws before approving and then acting on them.

In 1817, James Madison vetoed a bill for federal funding of internal improvements, projects such as roads and canals, using constitutional arguments to make his case.

“I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States to return it with that objection to the House of Representatives, in which it originated.

“The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution,” he continued, “and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers, or that it falls by any just interpretation within the power to make laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution those or other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.”

James Monroe did likewise in 1822 with his Cumberland Road Bill Veto.

“I am compelled to object to its passage and to return the bill to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, under a conviction that Congress do not possess the power under the Constitution to pass such a law.”

In 1832, Andrew Jackson vetoed the re-chartering of the Bank of the United States in a famous altercation with Congress.

“Having considered it with that solemn regard to the principles of the Constitution which the day was calculated to inspire, and come to the conclusion that it ought not to become a law, I herewith return it to the Senate, in which it originated, with my objections.”

The bank bill, Jackson wrote, is not “compatible with justice, with sound policy, or with the Constitution of our country.”  Congress did not possess the constitutional authority to establish a bank, Jackson believed.

Franklin Pierce rejected a bill for public works in 1854.

“On such an examination of this bill as it has been in my power to make, I recognize in it certain provisions national in their character, and which, if they stood alone, it would be compatible with my convictions of public duty to assent to; but at the same time, it embraces others which are merely local, and not, in my judgment, warranted by any safe or true construction of the Constitution.”

In 1854 President Pierce vetoed another bill that would have provided government funds for the mentally insane.  “I can not find any authority in the Constitution for…public charity,” he told Congress.  “To do so would, in my judgment, be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive of the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.”

Grover Cleveland became the “Veto President” when he set a record of 414 vetoes in his first term alone.  In 1887 President Cleveland rejected a bill to provide seeds for drought-stricken farmers in Texas.  “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution,” he told Congress.

Early Presidents did not believe in the modern notion that Congress should pass any law it chooses, and then allow the courts to sort it out.  Such actions would have been considered a dereliction of duty.

In addition to the President, Congress also has explicit constitutional authority over the Court.  The Constitution vests Congress with “all legislative power,” that is all lawmaking authority.  This is precisely why courts are not allowed to make laws from the bench.

Included in congressional power is the right to set the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

Just as the Civil War was ending in 1865, and the government was considering a plan of Reconstruction in the South, Vice President Andrew Johnson became President after Lincoln’s assassination.  Even though he had remained loyal to the Union, Johnson was still a Southerner and Radical Republicans in the North were suspicious.  When two vacancies occurred on the Supreme Court, and not wanting Johnson to name any replacements, Congress simply removed the two positions.

But later, after Johnson left the White House in 1869, Congress decided to replace the justices for policy and political reasons.

In 1862, to help finance the war against the South, as well as their other spending schemes, Republicans, with the urging of Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, had passed the Legal Tender Act.

This inflationary plan allowed for the creation and circulation of a national currency called Greenbacks, fiat money that did not have the backing of gold, though the Constitution specifically gives Congress the authority to “coin money,” not to print it.  In all, Congress issued more than $450 million in paper dollars during the four-year conflict, producing ample inflation to double the cost of living.  The United States had not seen that level of inflation since the days of the American Revolution with the old, worthless Continental dollar.

In 1870, the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Hepburn v. Griswold, ruled the Legal Tender Act unconstitutional.  The Chief Justice in that case, who sided with the majority, was none other than Salmon P. Chase.  The decision angered Republicans in Congress, who then raised the number of seats on the Court back to its present total of nine.  President Grant then nominated two new Stalwart Republican justices in 1870, in an effort to “pack it,” and the Court reversed itself a year later, in Knox v. Lee, allowing Congress the authority to issue paper currency.

Though the Constitution sets the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction, Congress has the authority to limit the Court’s appellate jurisdiction, a tactic discussed in recent years by congressional Republicans in the hopes of stopping the Court’s attack on traditional American institutions.  Though ridiculed by Democrats as “unconstitutional,” Congress possesses the constitutional power to limit cases the Court can hear, under Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution:

“In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction.  In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

Congress has used that power in the past when needed.  As with the issue of the Court’s size, it was tested during the heated days of Reconstruction in the case of Ex Parte McCardle.

In 1869, a Mississippi newspaper owner and former Confederate general, William McCardle, wrote and published a series of editorials criticizing the North and its Reconstruction program.  Acting under the Reconstruction Acts of 1867, which provided for martial law, military commissions and tribunals, and the abolishment of the right of habeas corpus, the Union military commander in McCardle’s district arrested him.  McCardle sued to gain his freedom under the Habeas Corpus Act of 1867, a law passed by Congress that defined, by federal law, the rights under habeas corpus.

The Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Chase, had previously limited federal authority to try civilians in military courts and Radicals in Congress feared that if the Court heard the McCardle case, it might throw out the Reconstruction Acts, which would threaten the entire Reconstruction program.

Congress, acting under Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution, removed the Court’s jurisdiction in all cases arising under the Habeas Corpus Act by attaching a rider to an appropriations bill.  When the case came before it, the Court upheld Congress’s right to withdraw its jurisdiction.

With such abundant historical evidence, it is perplexing why conservatives would place so much trust in the Supreme Court, an unelected body that has such great influence to affect public policy, when clearly the other two branches have been awarded more power by the Constitution.

Attacking Obama for his decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, Rush Limbaugh stated recently that the Supreme Court has the exclusive right to decide the constitutionality of our laws.

Newt Gingrich also opposed the President’s pronouncement in an interview with Newsmax, stating that Obama is not a “one-person Supreme Court” and his decision sets a “very dangerous precedent” that must not be allowed to stand.

But a fair question should be asked, would a conservative President defend the constitutionality of the Roe decision, or either the unconstitutional and obnoxious McCain-Feingold Act or the Patriot Act, both of which did so much damage to the first amendment?

The dangerous precedent is to take that kind of power away from the democratic branches of the federal government and hand it to an unelected oligarchy with lifetime appointments.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend, “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.”

Justices, with their power, are “more dangerous” because “they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.”

Jefferson had it exactly right.  If federal courts are allowed to make political decisions, our liberty is in grave danger.