Clarence Roller: Democracy is a fragile happening

By Clarence Roller - Guest Column

Roe v. Wade is now in the hands of the nine justices of the U. S. Supreme Court. Six of them lean right, and three lean left. Three of the six were appointed by the previous president with the stated proviso that he would only appoint people to the court that would reverse Roe. However, each of the three, under oath, during their Senate confirmation hearings testified that Roe was established law and settled precedent.

If they choose to overturn Roe, it could be the most consequential ruling in 50 years.

The manner and method that the justices use to reach their decision will be the most telling feature of their decision. There are several philosophies about what the Constitution means or how it should be interpreted, if at all.

The first is the document is like the nation, a living, breathing, dynamic being. Another is that it is what it is and should be viewed as it was written by the members of the Constitution Convention. This is the “originalist” or “strict constructionist” viewpoint.

In the past few years, as the nation has become more polarized, there has evolved an even more stringent viewing of the Constitution, one that says, literally, that if it isn’t in the document then it isn’t “constitutional”. As one governor is quoted as saying, there is no constitutional right to abortion because the word “abortion” isn’t in the Constitution.

These people I would call “textualists,” and it appears that they view the Constitution as written in stone. Our own Congressional representative has espoused a somewhat similar opinion. If this philosophy were to become dominant and Roe to be nullified, then women could be treated, legally, 50 different ways, and the country would become 50 different entities instead of one nation.

But I am positive that the framers of the Constitution could not possibly see what the future needs of our country would be. The “necessary and proper” clause of Article 1, Section 8 leads me to believe that. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume a “textualist” view of the Constitution. One of the president’s authorities is that he is commander in chief of the Army, the Navy and the militia when called into national service. My question is: Who is commander of the U.S. Air Force. Is the Air Force leaderless or unconstitutional?

That is an easy one! How about everybody’s “First Amendment” rights? There are none because the First only restricts Congress’s ability to enact laws with respect to those supposed “rights.”

The Second Amendment concerns the “security of a free state” requiring a “well-regulated militia.” The militia is now the National Guard, and the right of private individuals to “keep and bear arms” is nowhere to be found.

If you really want to be scared, there is no place in the U. S. Constitution that guarantees the right of its citizens to vote! It says why you cannot be denied that right because of age, race, color, sex or previous condition of servitude, but it leaves open many other ways of denying it.

For instance, in the 2018 election, the Republican-controlled legislature of North Dakota passed a law that stated a person needed a street address in order to register to vote. They did so knowing full well that Native Americans living on reservations tended to vote Democratic and did not have street addresses.

These are just a few of the inconsistencies in our founding document. Can you imagine the size of it if it tried to cover every possible happening? But the Constitution is very clear on one thing: The laws enacted and treaties signed under it are the supreme law of the land and all officials are bound by oath to support it.

The strength of our nation lies in the diversity of its people and of them striving for success and hoping to make the country a better place for their children. The weakness of our nation lies in the diversity of its people, with some of them believing the country is theirs and if any other group gets a piece of the country then they must be getting less. They have a view of the country as a fixed quantity and are not willing to share. They have a narrow, nationalistic view of America.

As Yuvall Levin, a conservative Republican, said on the C-SPAN network show Q&A a few years ago when he gave his definitions of conservatives and liberals, conservatives are people who tend to look back into the history of America and take pride in all the good and great things that have happened with a tendency to memorialize them without regard to the future. Liberals, he thought, looked to the past and all the good things that have been accomplished with pride, but also thought we can do better. His thinking was that we need both groups, but they need to work together.

Democracy is a fragile happening and requires constant maintenance and support. Autocracies and dictatorships are easy, all it takes is a person willing to seize and maintain power for power’s sake and to use whatever power is needed to hold onto it. Examples abound, Putin, Xi and Kim are just the most notable ones, others abound. Disagree with them, and if you are lucky, you go to prison, otherwise you and your family disappear.

Remember Hitler, Mussolini and Xi were all “elected” in their rise to power. Don’t ever say it can’t happen here. As has been said, for bad things to happen, all it takes is for good people to do nothing.

By Clarence Roller

Guest Column

Clarence Roller is a resident of Lima. Reach him at [email protected]

Clarence Roller is a resident of Lima. Reach him at [email protected]

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