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America's Acid Test

By       Message Stephen Pizzo       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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"For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other." Thomas Paine (1776)

I don't know when it's hardest to be a liberal; when Democrats are out of power, or when Democrats are in power.

We're just getting out of a decade of out of power, and it's been tough. Really tough. But now we are just days away from it becoming all Democrats all the time, and I'm wondering.

What I'm wondering most about is whether, during that decade in the desert, Democrats forgotten, or simply decided to chuck, all that gushy, flowery stuff our founders put in the Constitution. Have Democrats become like religious folk who pay lip service to their Ten Commandments while picking and choosing which commandments they figure apply to them?

The Catholic Church has a name for folks who do that. They call them “cafeteria Catholics.”

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So, have incoming Democrats, including Obama himself, become cafeteria constitutionalists?

After they raise their hands in January and swear to defend the US Constitution, will Democrats then pick and choose which parts of the US Constitution are convenient to support and which they'll just shine on because enforcing them would be too "politically messy?"

And what could be more politically messy than pursuing the truckloads of evidence that members of the outgoing administration, including the President and Vice President of the United States of America, may have violated the Constitution, common law, international laws and international treaties! Talk about messy!

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But it's precisely at times like this when Americans, from top to bottom, have to either put their stated values where their highfalutin' mouths are, or just drop the pretense and admit they prefer making it up as need be -- you know, like the last guys did, and got away with.

From: Halsbury's Laws of England, Constitutional Law and Human Rights:
... every official, from the Prime Minister down to a constable or a collector of taxes, is under the same responsibility for every act done without legal justification as any other citizen. The Reports abound with cases in which officials have been brought before the courts, and made, in their personal capacity, liable to punishment, or to the payment of damages, for acts done in their official character but in excess of their lawful authority. Appointed government officials and politicians, alike ... and all subordinates, though carrying out the commands of their official superiors, are as responsible for any act which the law does not authorise as is any private and unofficial person.
— Law of the Constitution (London: MacMillan, 9th ed., 1950), 194.
Washington folk love to throw our system up in the face of leaders of oppressive governments. They are especially found of lecturing them about how, “Americans stand for the principle that a democratic government is one that is a government of laws, not of men." They love that one -- rhetorically anyway.

You can also find that line quoted in too many U.S. Supreme Court cases to count, and in every state supreme court in the United States.

The phrase “Equal Justice Under Law” is literally chiseled in granite over the front door of US Surpreme Court.

So, will our newly minted Democratic officials fulfill their constitutional obligation? Or will they decide that doing so, in some cases, is simply more trouble than it's worth, too much a distraction, too much of a hot potato? That investigating the previous Republican administration would annoy Republicans in Congress and screw up plans for tidy little "across the aisle" bipartisan deals?

Or will our new Democratic Party leaders find coverage behind the financial crisis, contending that now is not the time to throw Washington and the nation into political turmoil over some past constitutional “spilt milk.”

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“Since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has mostly dropped his criticism of the current administration, preferring to concentrate his energies on the future.”

Maybe later, they might promise. Oh, but wait, there's that old, “justice delayed is justice denied” thing. Huh? Right?  And of course, there would be no "later." It's going to be now, or it'll be never.

Give me a clue here. Are Democrats going to contend that sometimes defending the US Constitution is just more damn trouble than it's worth?  That enforcing the law of the land can screw up the smooth operation of the legislative process? And that sometimes we just need a "time out" from all that “freedom” and “equal justice” stuff?

Because failing to investigate so many alleged crimes, would be just that... a time out... setting the stage for many more time outs ahead.

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a (more...)

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