Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Don't Amend the Constitution, Say "No" to Judges

In coming weeks, you can expect to see leaders of various parachurch organizations stumping hard on behalf of the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA), which will be voted on by the Senate during the week of June 5th.

Speaking after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a constitutional amendment defending "traditional marriage," Richard Land said, "It is now up to the American people to let their voices be heard loudly and clearly that they want their senators to vote for the Marriage Protection Amendment to keep activist judges from ramming same-sex marriage down their throats." The line among evangelicals seems to be that we must define marriage for judges or they will define it for us.

Under the auspices of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Focus on the Family, Land and James Dobson penned a letter asking pastors to gin up the troops in a fight on behalf of MPA:

Pastors could distribute information about same-sex marriage on that Sunday, perhaps preach on the issue if God should lead them to do so, and hold a postcard signing time at the end of the service. The churches could gather the postcards and deliver them to a local office of their senators or mail them to their senators' DC offices.

Why are religious conservatives always taken in by this charade? For as long as I can recall, conservatives have been trotting out favored amendments that never go anywhere. Remember the Balanced Budget Amendment? Then of course there were amendments banning abortion and flag burning, or others in support of school prayer and term limits. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a slew of others.

Our friends among religious conservatives are right about one thing. At the heart of the gay marriage debate is the attempt by proponents of sexual and cultural revolution to subvert traditional institutions and normalize the abnormal and aberrant.

Nonetheless, amending the constitution is a foolish remedy? Why? First, it won’t pass! More importantly, the problem isn't with the Constitution, but rather with American elites, in particular judges who wield the law as a weapon of revolution. The solution then, dear reader, is to rein in the judges, not rewrite the law of the land.

There is already an existing remedy to the problem written directly into the Constitution, but you won't see conservatives embrace it because it would ring the death knell of a judicially imposed liberal imperium—and conservatives have neither the heart nor the stomach to fundamentally challenge the nature of the regime.

The constitution authorizes Congress to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Court. Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution says, "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."

Under that language, Congress may simply choose to forbid the Court even to hear, much less rule on cases involving gay marriage, abortion, capital punishment, school prayer, and a whole host of issues by a simple majority vote.

A constitutional amendment is not the answer to the collapse of marriage in American culture. Instead of adding amendments to our founding documents, true conservatives should be about the business of repealing existing monstrosities.


Blogger Jim Babka said...

Darrell - you've nailed it. I mean really nailed it. This point needs to be made more often. I hope everyone takes notice of it. Let's have a Constitutional Amendment is an inside joke for the Richard Land's of the world that means a) fundraising opportunity and/or b) getting the troops lathered. - Jim Babka

10:21 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I don't expect the GOP or "movement" conservatives to pick up the mantle anytime soon. But I do appreciate the kind words, Jim.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree this would be a much better way of going about muting all this absurd talk of same sex marriage.

"...have neither the heart nor the stomach..."

Why do you feel this way? Maybe enough of them just have not seen the advantages of congressional action portrayed as you have done it here. Which should be convincing, since "conservatives" must already by quite familiar with the futility of trying to amend the Constitution.

5:02 AM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I think experience leads me to the inescapable conclusion that conservatives, including the leadership of the so-called "Religious Right" isn't ultimately interested in challenging liberal hegemony. The ideas I've sketched above are by no means new and have been out there for some time. In the House of Representatives, Congressman Hostetler has introduced legislation to reduce the sway of judges. Naturally, it goes nowhere. Ultimately, conservative elites are just not really interested in winning the battle.

1:04 PM  

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