Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Incorporation Insanity

I feel like I'm in a Twilight Zone episode. Yesterday, I was celebrating the RKTBA victory in McDonald v. Chicago in the chat room of The Ed Morrissey Show when the discussion turned to the crucial question of whether the Fourteenth Amendment had "incorporated" the Second Amendment to bind the states as well as the "Federal" government against infringing gun rights.

My reaction was described as "barking". I can't believe that learned men and women can read the same words I read and come to the conclusions they have reached. Either I'm barking mad, or they are.

I responded that the Second Amendment doesn't need to be "incorporated", because it applied to all levels of government ever since December 15, 1791. Just read its text:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
There isn't a word there saying that the "Federal" government can't infringe that right, but States can, unlike the First Amendment, which plainly opens with the phrase "Congress shall make no law..."

Somehow, the notion has become popular that the Constitution only defined the limitations on the powers of the "Federal" government, and did not limit the powers of the States. But that's complete nonsense: Article I, Section 10 explicitly restricts State power, Article IV is all about the States, and Article VI places limits on State laws.

The Tenth Amendment says:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
I see this as yet another case of the Constitution helping to define the powers of States: It leaves it to the people of each state to write their own constitutions to determine what powers to grant the state government, provided that nothing in the Constitution either gives that power to the "Federal" government or places it off-limits to the states.

Since the Tenth Amendment was proposed en masse with eleven others, including the Second, one could plausibly argue that its wording informs or restricts the meaning of the Second. In my analysis, the only glimmer of a theory under which the Second Amendment doesn't apply to the States is found here. This reading of the Tenth basically says "If the Constitution doesn't come right out and use the word 'state' in declaring a limit on government power, then that limit only applies to the 'Federal' government, not the states".

But I'm not buying that reading. When I read the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the original Articles of the Constitution, Federalist Papers, and the Bill of Rights, I come to the inescapable conclusion that when any of those documents speak of rights of the people that must not be infringed, they mean that those rights are superior to the powers of any government, and a government which infringes those rights, in doing so is violating its very reason to exist.

[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]So, am I barking mad, or is the judicial consensus so far from what our first Congress meant when they proposed the Second Amendment, and the states understood when they ratified it, that I just seem insane as a sane man must appear in a world gone mad?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Time Perspectives

Watch this, and think about what it's saying. Then think some more. This is about a fundamental problem that seems to be getting worse, not better.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Awesome campaign Ad

For some reason, I can't embed this: