Friday, October 24, 2008

Follow-up on a previous entry

You didn't expect me to simply leave it at that did you? The problem with unthinkingly asserting that the constitution, in and of itself, is our "supreme law" is that, as I said in the other post, it is only a half-truth. Here's what the constitution really says about its authority:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. (italics added)

It is the portion of the statement which I've italicized above which is often neglected to the great detriment of truly understanding the authentic claim of the constitution to its own authority. Obviously the constitution is not claiming supreme authority in and of itself, but qualifies its authority to consist, in part, in "all laws made in pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States." This (the whole statement) is our "supreme law," the neglect of which can only lead us to false conceptions as to the supremecy of the constitution.

The highlighted portion of the statement is demonstrated significant by a simple example. Take two individuals who have in common an overall political philosophy, and invariably you will get some disagreement between them on what kinds of laws constitute those "made in pursuance thereof." Imagine then how widely different the opinions of two individuals with disparate political philosophies must be. It is important, therefore, that we have at least a cursory understanding of the constitution and the form of government which it establishes (hint: it ain't a democracy), and that can only come from studying the founding fathers, their letters and other writings on the subject, political speeches, and so forth and so on. In other words, original source documents.

P.S. If you still don't know where specifically in the constitution to look for the foregoing claim to supreme authority, I can only say that it lies somewhere between the opening words of the preamble and the closing of the original document excluding the Bill of Rights and the seventeen additional amendments attached thereto.