The Constitution is a set of rules for operating the Federal Government ("FedGov"). The states created those rules when they created FedGov to serve them. Having created FedGov, the states are the "boss" of FedGov
Who should decide what the the rules (Constitution) mean, the ones who made the rules in the first place or the one to whom the rules apply? This question is central to our efforts here at Take Back The Power.
Now, in any relationship where one party is the boss, it seems obvious on the face of it that any rules made by the boss mean what the boss means and not what the "bossee" means.
Suppose you and your spouse establish dating rules for your teenaged daughter as follows:
These are the rules — the conditions under which you permit your daughter to go out on dates. If there are any questions as to what the rules mean, who decides what they mean? Do the rules mean what you mean them to mean, or is your daughter free to interpret them any way she likes?
Suppose that, after taking in a movie at the Cineplex, she and her date go to a pizza place and she gets home just before 11. You ask, "Where have you been? The movie let out at 9:45." When she explains that they went for a slice of pizza, you ask, "What about rule #2, 'Go only where you said you will go'?"
"But we did go to the Cineplex," she protests. She seems to believe that, as long as she goes where she said she was going, she can go elsewhere as well. Is that what you intended? She seems to be ignoring "only" in rule #2 and doing something you did not give her permission to do. What do you, as the rule maker, do? Whose interpretation of rule #2 should apply?
Suppose that on another occasion, 11 PM comes and goes and your daughter still hasn't returned home from her date. When she comes in the door at 11:30 and you ask for an explanation, she says that she was home before 11 and that she and her boyfriend were in his car, in the driveway, talking for the last 45 minutes. Is this what you intended when you established the "Be home" rule? Do your original intentions even matter? Is your daughter free to decide what it means to "be home?"
The states — the rule makers — are in an analogous situation regarding FedGov. The rules for FedGov set forth in the Constitution have been broken repeatedly and the states have failed to enforce them. When ordinary citizens bring suit to challenge unconstitutional laws — violations of the rules — FedGov itself says that it has not violated the rules. Over 200 years ago, FedGov's Judicial branch declared itself the decider in such matters when it ruled in Marbury v. Madison.
Many people believe that, because we've let FedGov decide the meaning of the Constitution's rules for more than 200 years, we now have to continue to let FedGov do so, that we have no choice. We believe that it's never too late and that corrective action is long overdue.
The states have every right to be the decider when it comes to what the Constitution means. See the Tenth Amendment.
"If you are not angry about what your government has done to you, if you aren't hot under the collar over what your government has done to others, if you're not outraged at the things your government has done in your name, if your blood doesn't boil when you contemplate what your government has in store for you, well then, you haven't been paying attention."
Warren "Mickey" Michelsen
"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under."
"I's had all I can stands and I can't stands no more."
"We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more!"
Peter Finch (as newsman Howard Beale) in the movie Network (1976)
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."