Monday, January 9, 2012

So Presidents don't need to know the Constitution now?

I heard this exchange Saturday during the Republican candidate debate in New Hampshire (Los Angeles Times report):
George Stephanopoulos: Governor Romney, so you think that states have the right to ban contraception or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?

Mitt Romney: George, this is an unusual topic that you're raising... states have a right to ban contraception, could it constitutionally be done? We could ask our Constitutionalist here, (motioning over to Ron Paul) uh...

George Stephanopoulos: I'm sure Paul could answer the question, but I'm asking you, do the states have that right or not?

Mr. Stephanopoulos and Mr. Romney went back and forth for several minutes. Mr. Romney eventually made a grudging admission that yes, the states do have that right, but of course, no state is considering it.

So what kind of President do you want? One that is attractive and says what you want to hear (with the risk that he will make a contrary statement that someone else will want to hear), or a President who will obey his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution?

Virtual buckeye to Sherry Mann.


Barga said...

State's have this right? State's have this right?
Griswold v. CT says otherwise, quite clearly

Harold Thomas said...


I thought this was a rather bizarre example, even before you reminded me about Griswold v. Connecticut.

Mr. Romney is clearly wrong. But he was also wrong to publicly defer to another candidate on a Constitutional question. In so doing, he appeared not to care enough about the Constitution to understand it, which was my point.

Keep in mind, though, that I am looking at this issue through the lens of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which if read literally would indicate that the states do have the right to outlaw contraception, Griswold to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Supreme Court cannot grant rights. In principle, it only applies the Constitution to specific cases.

In saying this, I am neither advocating outlawing contraception, nor am I advocating contempt for the Supreme Court; but I am suggesting that, without an effective check on the power of the Supreme Court, there is nothing to prevent it from exceeding the authority the Founders envisioned for it in the Constitution.

Barga said...

If the Supreme court can not grant rights, how do the 9th and 10th work? In my opinion, Griswold wasn't creating a new right, it was just uncovering a previously existing one...

There are plenty of checks on the court, the least of which is limiting its jurisdiction (which is allowed UNTIL you either expand the OJ or limit the OJ from what is in the Constitution). Likewise, you can impeach the justices, alter the laws, amend the constitution, etc. All of these are stronger checks then anything the President has OR the Congress has

Barga said...

Likewise, how does the 4th not imply a privacy to the bedroom?

(as for the reason about neither leader knowing the constitution, surprise surprise there)

Harold Thomas said...

On the granting of rights, you answered your own question. The Supreme Court does not grant rights, just as the Constitution does not grant rights. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments are efforts to prevent the federal government from exceeding the authority granted to it by the original Constitution.
And I agree that the 4th implies a right to privacy in the bedroom -- from the federal government; and because of the 14th amendment, from state and local governments as well.
You are correct in citing the checks on the Supreme Court that are available. They are ineffective because Congress lacks the political will to exercise them.