Or, Liberal Activisim Is the One Activism Permitted by the Constitution
A federal court judge has recently reaffirmed that warrantless searches are illegal, among other things, on the grounds that they violate the quite clear wording of the 14th Amendment which states “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The President and, as usual, the self styled “Conservatives” who apparently want him to have the sole determination of whether liberty or individual rights may continue to exist have mounted two attacks on the decision. The first is to trumpet the “terrorism threat” that has been used to justify almost every assault on the Constitution since 9/11. It boils down to there are supposedly no other ways to effectively prevent terrorism, so we apparently must destroy the Constitution in order to “save” it. While it didn’t seem necessary to go that far when we were battling genuinely terrifying world powers like Germany, Japan or the Soviet Union, for some reason, the Conservatives insist it is suddenly the sole hope against an opponents who is hiding out in a cave.
The second attack advanced by Conservatives against the Constitution is a more insidious one, one that started in 1954 when the federal courts decreed that blacks and minorities may not be segregated after all. It is that assertion that “Liberal activist” judges have been exceeding their authority. This theory has been gaining strength since the Roe v. Wade ruling indicating that privacy is a protected right as well. Unfortunately, the mantra has been repeated so often, some people, for the most part those who have never bothered to read the Constitution, seem to actually believe it.
Naturally, the judge who upheld the Constitution against the Presidents domestic spying programs is loudly portrayed by Conservatives as being just another such “activist."
Activisim it may be, but certain activism is fully permitted by the Constitution itself. For instance, it is one thing for a judge to interpret ambiguous clauses in the Constitution as allowing greater articulation of individual rights including those not previously mentioned, such as the right of “privacy.” Since the Constitution expressly states in Amendment IX though that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” how can it be argued otherwise? In other words, “activisim,” to use the term Conservatives disparage, is fully permissible where individual rights are concerned.
It is quite a different thing for the President to deliberately ignore plain and unignorable language in the Constitution like the overt prohibition against warrantless searches. He seems to have forgotten he sworn an oath of office which states in elegant simplicity “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Note that it is the Constitution and the Constitution alone singled out in that oath for protection. Similar language is included in the oaths for many other offices including for Congress and officers in the military.
To violate that oath of office is probably one of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” enshrined in the Constitution by our forefathers as a reason to impeach the President. If the President persists in forgetting his duties, perhaps he ought to be reminded.