Blogs > Liberty and Power > Is You Is or Is You Ain't a Constitutional Republic?

Feb 24, 2004 1:22 pm

Is You Is or Is You Ain't a Constitutional Republic?

Just to follow up on Chris's spot-on observations, I find it amusing that conservatives, who are supposedly the defenders of a constitutional republic, now are the biggest supporters of direct democracy. Here they are complaining that the Constitution puts limits on what "the people" can do at the ballot box. Voters decide that marriage means a man and a woman. Suppose the Supreme Court says otherwise, implying that there are some rights that the ballot box can't override. What's the problem? Isn't this the whole point of having a constitution, so that legislatures do not have total power? And let us examine the shoe on the other foot: where's the applause when "the people" decide that the right to bear arms should not be rammed down people's throats by activist judges, or that Fifth Amendment protections for property rights shouldn't be forced on people by the courts? I hardly think conservatives would rejoice in hearing "the people's voice" the next time the democratic process produces laws at odds with those constitutional rights.

Yes, one can have a legitimate debate over whether the Constitution's equal protection and due process clauses make the case for same-sex marriage (I think they do), but to cheer on legislative attempts to define fundamental rights seems a tad at odds with conservatives' self-professed love of a constitutional republic.

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