By Emma Kaden
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” — Declaration of Independence
President Donald Trump will soon announce his nominee for a new U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and many are wondering who his pick will be. However, many are considering the U.S. justice system on a larger scale, and attempting to address its faults.
One question in particular is important to discuss: what happened to “consent of the governed?”
“Consent of the governed” is often misconstrued as the consent of Americans to let their political representatives take whatever action they see fit. However, a more truthful interpretation is that Americans consented to the powers granted to the federal government in the Constitution. Simply put, any government actions made without the consent of the governed should be feared.
This brings into question the Supreme Court’s power as an institution of the federal government. When landmark cases are brought before the Supreme Court, the justices deliberate and often write pages of legal jargon describing the constitutionality of the issue(s) at hand. However, it’s important to remember that if an act isn’t defined as lawful in the Constitution, then such acts put our freedom in jeopardy.
In “The Supreme Court Has Destroyed the Principle of the ‘Consent of the Governed,’” author Tom Mullen argues that the federal government has vastly exceeded the enumerated powers granted under the Constitution.
“The Constitution is not written in a dead foreign language or legalese. It’s written in plain English, in a manner “We the People” can understand. It doesn’t take the finest legal minds in the country to determine which powers are granted and which are not. It’s all there in black and white. In fact, because it’s so unambiguously written, the court has had to rule constitutional most of what the federal government does outside of the military under the power granted in the Commerce Clause, which was originally proposed and ratified mainly in reaction to states erecting their own tariffs.
Surely, the founders never intended for the election of one man or woman to so profoundly change the legal framework of the entire nation, one way or another. This is the fruit of violating not only a set of rules spelled out in the Constitution, but for violating the fundamental principle that underpins the entire document: that the federal government will exercise no power not delegated to it, i.e., without the consent of the governed.
Here’s a useful rule of thumb. If it takes nine judges dozens of pages of legalese to explain how the Constitution grants a power in question to the federal government, then we should assume the power isn’t there. If there is any question at all, an amendment to the Constitution should be offered to determine if the people really do consent. That goes for all previous rulings by SCOTUS on constitutionality. If we really believe in consent of the governed, why not be sure?
Most of what the federal government currently does wouldn’t pass the test. That probably scares the heck out of a lot of people, but it really shouldn’t. It would simply allow blue states to govern themselves in much bluer fashion and red states to do so in much redder fashion. That’s by no means a perfect solution, but it would be highly preferable to the imminent civil unrest—or worse—Americans currently face as a result of letting the federal government do whatever it wants.”
Perhaps a solution to this dilemma is not yet clear, but learning more about our rights as Americans is what will eventually return the power to “we the people.” Becoming informed of the power granted to “we the people” will allow Americans to rein in the out-of-control federal government, and reinforce freedom.