Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Antonin ScaliaThe death of Antonin Scalia this past week was not just sad news, it was scary news.

Scalia was a strong personality who sat firmly on the conservative side of the court. If President Obama succeeds in getting a nominee appointed to the court it will have a disastrous result in future decisions such as abortion, immigration, and gun control. But I doubt any of these would be the worst outcome of this turn of events.

The worst consequence would be in how the courts interpret the constitution. We have already seen a trend toward redefinition. But with the majority of justices moving in this direction we will see every one of our freedoms reduced to the solidity of Jello. Freedom of religion will be replaced by freedom of gender identity. (That is already moving foreward.) Freedom of the press will be replaced by a puppet media that promotes viewpoints instead of reports facts. (Oops, that one is already in the works, too.) Freedom of speech and the right to vote will be crippled first with poor information and later by constraints put into place to protect specific peoples. This will be closely associated with similar restrictions being put upon the right to assemble.

Scalia addressed this transition, already taking place, rather colorfully saying, “The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

Prior to that Abraham Lincoln put it this way, “The people—the people—are the rightful masters of both the congresses, and courts—not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.”

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Absolute Truth and the Constitution

Our world is changing, and I believe it is changing faster than ever. Social ideas are shifting quicker than at any time in history. The rate of change is not just because technology is moving forward and accelerating our progress. In this case, it also connects to world view changes. Let me explain.

If you looked at society a hundred years ago, the predominant world views included the concept of absolute truth. Perhaps as a part of a Biblical ideology, or by those who rejected Christianity the absolute truth was couched in what they called higher law. In both cases, it was a perspective that right was right all the time and was unchanging. In the time frame since, absolute truth has been replaced by relativism.

Back when absolute truth was accepted by the majority, people were morally anchored to their idea of truth. In theology, this meant they looked to the Bible for answers and accepted it as authoritative. In politics, absolute truth affected how they utilized the constitution. Ideas were brought before the Supreme Court to be argued based upon their constitutionality. At the time, the decisions of the court were evaluated based upon the assumed intent of the original authors of the document.

When people began to reject the idea of absolute truth, they also began looking at the Bible and the constitution differently. Instead of asking what the document says, they now looked for what the documents allow. It is no longer a question of what the authors intended, but instead whether the document could be interpreted to allow the desired outcomes.

This change in how decisions are made by the Supreme Court, fundamentally changes the court’s role, and makes it by far the most powerful branch of government. Formerly the court was severely limited in what it could do, because its decisions had to be visibly based on the founding document. Now the court is able to make decisions based on interpretations of the constitution rather than its original intent. This ultimately gives them power to do anything they want, including actions previously limited to other branches of government. And don’t forget the justices are appointed to a life long term.

With the increased power the court now has, stacking the court with judges of a certain perspective is far more important than who is elected to the legislative branch or who sits in the executive office. It doesn’t take a whole lot of thought to know that this tyrannical power given to the court was not originally intended by the Constitution, nor is it what the average American wants in terms of how our nation is governed, but it is the logical outcome of rejecting absolute truth.