Fundamentalist Christian Matt Barber, of Liberty Counsel Action, took to the pages of World Net Daily to fashion a sort of hysterical argument against Barack Obama. The focus of Barber’s complaint is President Obama’s nominees to the Supreme Court. Everyone knows the ultimate prize this election is the opportunity to set the High Court’s table for many years with one, if not two, appointees.
It’s a rare prize, given Supreme Court justices serve for many years. According to SupremeCourt.gov, “The average number of years that Justices have served is 16.” That’s four presidential terms. The longest term on record is that of “Chief Justice was Chief Justice John Marshall who served for 34 years, 5 months and 11 days from 1801 to 1835.” That’s eight presidential terms and then some.
Barber takes issue with Joe Biden’s factual statement at the debate that, “The next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees. … For Mr. Romney, who do you think he’s likely to appoint? Do you think he’s likely to appoint someone like Scalia … ? We picked two people. We pick people who are open-minded.”
Barber quips, “And, of course, by ‘open-minded,’ Biden means “not bound by those pesky constitutional limitations intended to avert government tyranny.” He means liberal ‘living constitutionalists.’
Matt Barber is what is called an “originalist.” If you want to know what an originalist is, Davidi A. Strauss at the University of Chicago Law School, explains:
One theory in particular-what is usually called “originalism”-is an especially hardy perennial. Originalism is the antithesis of the idea that we have a living Constitution. It is the view that constitutional provisions mean what the people who adopted them-in the 1790s or 1860s or whenever-understood them to mean. (There are different forms of originalism, but this characterization roughly captures all of them.) In the hands of its most aggressive proponents,originalism simply denies that there is any dilemma about the living Constitution. The Constitution requires today what it required when it was adopted, and there is no need for the Constitution to adapt or change, other than by means of formal amendments.
It will now be clear to you what Barber means when he says:
To be sure, the next president may well appoint one, two, three or even four new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. As voters, this should be our most critical point of focus: ensuring an originalist, strict constructionist majority. If Mr. Obama is re-elected and appoints just one more Ruth Bader Ginsburg, forget it. America, as our founders envisioned her, is gone.
Barber says this was enough to turn him into a pro-Romney man. “He has pledged: ‘I will appoint conservative, strict constructionists to the judiciary.'”
Barber develops his argument:
President Obama has already shown who he’ll appoint. In Justices Elena Kagan and Sonja Sotomayor – nice though they may be – he has stacked the Court with two radical counter-constitutionalists who share his belief that the Constitution “is not a static, but living document and must be read in the context of an ever changing world.”
“Naturally,” concludes Barber, ”if the Constitution is “ever changing,” the Constitution is meaningless.”
Not so fast, says Strauss:
There is something undeniably natural about originalism. If we’re trying to figure out what a document means, what better place to start than with what the authors understood it to mean?… But when it comes to difficult, controversial constitutional issues, originalism is a totally inadequate approach. It is worse than inadequate: it hides the ball by concealing the real basis of the decision.
And then Barber takes issue with President Obama telling the truth (yes, Virginia, Republicans, especially the Fundamentalist Christian variety, hate the truth):
But it gets worse. Obama has also called this – the very founding document upon which our laws, public policy, indeed our very freedoms rest – an “imperfect document,” a “living document … that reflects some deep flaws in American culture.”
“Yikes,” he says. Yikes? I thought only God was capable of perfection, Mr. Barber? Are you saying mortal men fashioned a perfect document, that a society that denied the vote to women, and enslaved blacks, was capable of producing a perfect document?
Mr. Barber, even the men who wrote the Constitution knew it wasn’t perfect. It was the result of compromise, a word you Republicans have forgotten: no one man who contributed to the Constitution got everything he wanted. Dig that. The amendments began to roll in almost immediately in order to rectify its short-comings, and even there, the authors of those amendments failed to get everything they wanted. Again: compromise.
Then Barber returns to a favorite them of World Net Daily:
Moreover, during the 2008 campaign, Obama lamented that the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, failed to “break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.”
Let that sink in a moment. In his own words, this man – a man solemnly sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution – has betrayed utter disdain for it. He has, in essence, admitted that he views our most sacred founding document as a “constraint” against his thinly veiled efforts to “fundamentally transform” America into Greece.
In fact, Obama didn’t say the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren was not “radical enough.” Scarborough also falsely claimed that during the interview Obama said “the Warren Court did not go far enough, that actually one of the great tragedies was there was no redistribution of wealth.” In fact, the “traged[y]” Obama identified during the interview was that the civil rights movement relied too much on the courts in its efforts to bring about political and economic justice.
But wedded to a lie, Republicans don’t believe in divorce. Women come and go but lies are forever. Barber says: “Thank God our Founding Fathers predicted that men like Barack Obama would come and go. And thank God they had the wisdom to plan accordingly.”
Barber then closes by taking a Patrick Henry quote out of context. Speaking against the Constitution and it’s embrace of a strong federal government, and in favor of a loose confederation of states back in 1788, Henry, leader of the anti-federalist faction, said,
The question turns, Sir, on that poor little thing–the expression, We, the people, instead of the States of America. I need not take much pains to show, that the principles of this system, are extremely pernicious, impolitic, and dangerous. Is this a Monarchy, like England–a compact between Prince and people; with checks on the former, to secure the liberty of the latter? Is this a Confederacy, like Holland–an association of a number of independent States, each of which retain its individual sovereignty? It is not a democracy, wherein the people retain all their rights securely. Had these principles been adhered to, we should not have been brought to this alarming transition, from a Confederacy to a consolidated Government. We have no detail of those great considerations which, in my opinion, ought to have abounded before we should recur to a government of this kind. Here is a revolution as radical as that which separated us from Great Britain. It is as radical, if in this transition our rights and privileges are endangered, and the sovereignty of the States be relinquished: And cannot we plainly see, that this is actually the case? The rights of conscience, trial by jury, liberty of the press, all your immunities and franchises, all pretensions to human rights and privileges, are rendered insecure, if not lost, by this change so loudly talked of by some, and inconsiderately by others. Is this same relinquishment of rights worthy of freemen? Is it worthy of that manly fortitude that ought to characterize republicans: It is said eight States have adopted this plan. I declare that if twelve States and an half had adopted it, I would with manly firmness, and in spite of an erring world, reject it. You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.
Barber seizes on only the last: “[L]iberty ought to be the direct end of your government.”
He concludes, therefore, that, “Today, we have it exactly backward. Four more years of Barack Obama, and government will be the direct end of your liberty.”
By quoting Patrick Henry, the man opposing the Constitution is not Barack Obama, but Matt Barber. The Constitution was exactly what Henry opposed. Henry was not a champion of an originalist view of the Constitution at all but an opponent of ANY Constitution. Henry was afraid the Constitution would make the president a king. Patrick Henry was perfectly content with the Articles of Confederation.
We certainly know well the Republican meme that Obama is a dictator, or wants to be, but if Henry was right, the Constitution makes a king of every president.
And here’s another question for Mr. Barber: if the Constitution is perfect, as he claims, why did Patrick Henry opposee it so vehemently? And if Patrick Henry opposed the Constitution, why are you so dishonestly using Patrick Henry to supposedly defend the Constitution he was, in fact, attacking?
Barber is being thoroughly dishonest here, and so, of course, his article belongs in the pages of the World Net Daily, where it will find happy and abundant company.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.