Friday, November 30, 2012

Constitutional Contradictions

The United States Constitution is not a perfect document for a system of government.  While it did seek to limit a central government’s control over the several States, which original were sovereign entities with compelling interests in unity, it has more than its fair share of contradictions within it.  These contradictions are never really discussed, as most people, much like Jesus or the Bible, assume that the Constitution says one thing when really it says something else entirely.  Here are just a few contradictions I’ve found (and I’m not even a lawyer or a constitutional scholar):

  • Amendment 14 Section 4 and Amendment 1 – Basically, the 14th amendment has been held up as sacred, seeing as how it was one of the post-Secession War (or Civil War if you believe the propaganda) Amendments to be passed.  In the fourth section it reads, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”  So much for freedom of speech, as outlined in the first one.  Now technically, this is correct as this is an amendment, not a law, but still, pretty dick thing to put in an amendment.  In a more modern context, this means that it is illegal for us to question the government when they provide grants to small towns in order to militarize their police against potential insurrections from Ron Paulers.
  • Amendment 17 and Amendment 10 – The 10th amendment explicitly made sure that the States had sovereignty, save any powers specified in the United States Constitution.  It explicitly states what was originally implied in the first draft of the Constitution.  The 17th Amendment changed how Senators were selected, originally by State legislatures, now they were selected by popular vote of the people.  While on its face it seems like the same thing, in practice it is not.  The States cannot act with any kind of sovereignty without some kind of representation in the Federal government, it’s that simple.  In practice, the will of the people and the will of the ruling class, at both local, state, and federal levels, has always been different.  As such, these days many States are burdened with mandates from the Federal government of which there is little recourse.  Yes, there is a Court system, but those justices are selected by the President and confirmed by a Senate now populated with some of the biggest political whores in the history of mankind.
  • Amendment 18 and Amendment 21 – Amendment 18 outlawed alcohol.  Amendment 21 repealed it.  These are contradictions, but I think this is the only time where the contradiction was intentional.
  • Amendment 11 and Article 6, Section 2 – While I am no expert, the 11th Amendment basically established that individual citizens could not use the Federal court systems to settle disagrees they had with States with which they were not residents of.  However, Article 6, Section 2 of the Constitution is the Supremacy Clause, which states that the Constitution is the law of the land.  These two contradict each other because one states that the Federal government is supreme and the other does not.
  • Finally, we have the 16th Amendment and the 13th Amendment.  Amendment 13 abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.  Amendment 16 allows direct taxation in the form of income taxes.  Income taxes are basically a way for the government to get first dibs on your money.  In other words, you are working involuntarily for the Federal government and have a percentage of it taken involuntarily (and any asshole who says otherwise should try not paying taxes and seeing how many guns are at their heads later).

The Constitution as written was, overall, fairly decent a document for dictating a system of government.  And while it does have many contradictions in print, the real problems with it don’t stem from the wording but the application of it by the people who are voted into political office.  All systems of government are perfect until you add human nature into the mix.

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