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Aug 14, 2018

Consent of the Governed and Interpreting the Constitution

If consent of the governed means anything, we have to apply the Constitution in the way the people who ratified it understood it.   Otherwise we are imposing laws nobody consented to, which is tyranny.  It's easy to say that people who object to decisions like Roe v Wade and Obergfell are just misguided bigots.  But in fact, they are objecting to laws invented by the courts that were not lawfully adopted by the legislature or consented to by Constitutional ratification.  The ends don't justify the means.  The means change the outcome.  If the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution in ways that nobody consented to, there is no limit to the Supreme Court's power.  There is also no binding precedent, because any precedent can be reinterpreted to mean something entirely different.  The Supreme Court becomes a Supreme Revolutionary Council with essentially unlimited powers and life appointments for members.

Let me give you an example of how this works.  The 14th Amendment was passed in 1868, when homosexual acts were illegal in every state.  If the legislators who voted to ratify the 14th Amendment had known they were ratifying same sex marriage, it wouldn't have passed.  Obergfell should have been decided on the full faith and credit clause.  Any marriage validly performed in one state must be recognized in all states.  This would have left the states in control of who could marry inside their borders, but forced all states to recognize same sex marriages performed elsewhere.  Such a decision would have been consistent with the invalidation of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which conservatives liked because of the states rights reasoning, even though the outcome didn't go their way.  DOMA was invalidated because the Supreme Court ruled marriage was a state matter, and federal law could not interfere with it under the 10th Amendment.  A ruling on full faith and credit would have been much more easily defended as consistent with the original intent of the Constitution.   If Obergfell had been decided on full faith and credit, doubt about the permanence of Obergfell, including this article, wouldn't be necessary.  Since using the 14th Amendment was a stretch, Obergfell is a shaky decision.

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