In a recent article featured on Slate.com, writer Dahlia Lithwick, responding to statements made by SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas regarding the respecting of institutions, opined in a piece ominously titled, “The Supreme Court Will Pay for Overturning Roe” (NOTE: The headline has just been subsequently changed to the less threatening “Justices Are Not Kings”), that respect for our institutions such as the police and the courts are not given blindly and without conditions.
Her comment specifically was, “That isn’t how respect, or public trust, works. Those things are earned, over time. They can also be squandered” . . . She is correct that respect can be squandered, but she demonstrates a fundamental shortcoming of our culture; respect for honorable institutions which serve the public interest is implied as integral from their inception. Essentially, they begin and exist in perpetuity with the built-in premise and expectation that those men and women who step up to serve in their various roles of will do so with honor and integrity, judiciously and wisely executing their duties and meeting out their granted powers.
Her comment well demonstrates an inherent problem with our current culture, the inability to assume anything but mal intent of others toward self. The problem with people who fall into this category is simple, there are instances and cases where respect without prior demonstration of merit is expected.
In continuing with her assailment of the High Court for its decision to overturn the Roe v Wade decision of 1973, Ms. Lithwick laments the loss of a false but religiously held belief that most on the Left have had for the past half-century – that a constitutional right to have an abortion exists. The justices in their decision made particular effort to address that false belief. It – the Constitution – does not. Simply, the Constitution says what it says, and means what it means. Inferring imaginary and spurious circumstances which began the unending assault by the Progressive Movement of the early 1900s, that the Constitution can be molded, mashed, and manipulated to mean “whatever the hell we want it to”, to undo the Constitution’s limitations on government powers and rights which are fundamental is what got us to the place we find ourselves in today. Regrettably, as is usually the case with religiously held beliefs, the possibility of intellectually examining those things for validity and reconsidering or altering one’s beliefs based on what is plainly there, or in this case not there, is highly unlikely.
The author notes that ongoing polling data shows a significantly low level of public approval for the High Court. She clearly implies and undoubtedly believes that this decision and others released this year will further erode their already waning level of respect. Perhaps. But perhaps not. What wasn’t postulated in her opinion and which demonstrates a culturally prevalent lack of critical thinking, is what cause is at the heart of the low approval numbers for the High Court. What wasn’t considered – even briefly – was the possibility and in actuality, the reason lies in the Court’s propensity over the past century to be an “activist” court, tearing down the foundations of the Constitution and transferring ever more power and authority out of the hands of the states and into the hands of the federal government.
It seems cautiously and hopefully evident, that this trend is ending and rightly being reversed, returning power to the states and the citizens respectively when the Constitution is mute on a matter or power. This is the essence of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and this “negative right” mandate of the Constitution, which relegates power and authority not specifically enumerated to it are reserved to the states, has been sorely and painfully chipped away by previous Courts for the past century until there is practically nothing left of it but the faded words inscribed on its parchment. Ms. Lithwick closes her condemnation of the High Court with the following, “Today’s decision confirms that if and when the public is finally ready to give up on the court, there will be nobody to blame but the six justices who gave them nothing to believe in”.
Now, perhaps that the Justices in the majority are showing some signs of returning to the respect of and alignment to the mandates of the Night and Tenth Amendments, it’s likely that their public approval polling numbers will for the first time in decades, actually increase. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one. But regardless of what decisions come from the High Court in the future, it would be best for the sake of our culture and an enduring civil society, that respect be given to the Courts, the police, and all who serve them and operate with honor and integrity, respecting and adhering to the law, and seeking to do what’s right, and not caving to the meandering and sometimes violent whims of those
Jamie Walker is an author, inventor, and teacher retired and living in Summerville SC