Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Burn the Constitution!

In the 1970s, feminists exhorted women to burn their brassieres. They even had Burn-the-Bra bonfires. Today, it seems they want us to throw the U.S. Constitution on the bonfire, a document they consider as confining, restrictive, and uncomfortable as that venerable woman’s undergarment.

Although we’ve had female justices on the Supreme Court for years, current Supreme Court judge nominee Elena Kagan, a veritable shoe-in for the position, seems poised to lead us to the Constitutional bonfire.

She is reputed to have stated, echoing the words of her mentor, Thurgood Marshall, “…the Constitution, as originally drafted and conceived was defective. The Constitution today…contains a great deal to be proud of. But the credit does not belong to the Framers. It belongs to those (like Marshall) who refused to acquiesce to ‘outdated’ notions of liberty, justice, and equality.”

Conservative pundits have also accused her of being in favor of banning, or even burning, books, in regard to the campaign finance reform law, where a book advocates a certain political party candidate.

Her defenders say that the opinion came not from Kagan but from Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart. He presided over Citizens United v. FEC, a Supreme Court case dealing with the constitutionality of the Federal Elections Commission's decision that Citizens United could not air a movie advocating against Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy if that movie was paid for by federal funds.

On March 24, 2009 -- after the Senate confirmed Kagan -- the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case. Stewart stated during the trial that, in addition to a movie, the federal government could “prohibit the publication of [a] book using the corporate treasury funds” if that book ended by saying “Vote for X.”

In rearguing the case, Kagan asserted that the federal government would not have much of a case – at least not through campaign finance law – for banning books. Any corporation challenging such a ruling would likely win and the book banning would be overturned.

She referred to it as a “good as-applied challenge” to the law. “Nobody in Congress,”

Kagan stated, “ nobody in the administrative apparatus has ever suggested that books pose any kind of corruption problem.” Except for the U.S. Constitution. One book publishers places a warning card insert in the folds of its version of the Constitution.

Liberal feminist adherents of Kagan are relying on the alleged sexism of the original U.S. Constitution to defend the changes they wish to make to it. (Except that you can’t “change” the Constitution –erase whatever offends your modern sensibilities - you can only amend it.) However, while it’s true that women and blacks did not have the right to vote in 1787 – blacks were still in bondage – the Constitution makes no actual stricture for or against their right to vote until the 14th Amendment, which then refers to the sex and age of voters. Otherwise, the document relies on the word “persons” to describe citizen voters.

They would cite legislative activism as the basis for the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th Amendments to the Constitution. Five years after The Civil War, the Reconstruction Amendments were adopted. It took women awhile longer. The 19th Amendment was not ratified until 1919.

Arguments against women’s suffrage were that there should only be one vote per household (the husband’s), that women weren’t sufficiently educated or intelligent enough to understand politics, that they could be “manipulated” and that they simply weren’t interested in politics, that it was a “man’s” game.

Likely, the last was, and still is, the truest. Up until the Tea Parties at least, most women didn’t pay much attention to politics, unless there was some soft issue in the public forum – the environment, social justice, the poor and needy. Liberal feminists, disdainful of anything male, flocked to the call.

Conservative women shrugged and went back to doing the dishes. My ex sister-in-law, back in the 1980s, didn’t realize Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States. She sounded like the character from Back to the Future: “Ronald Reagan? The actor?!”

Thanks to World War II, the ranks of men were sufficiently diminished that women outnumbered men in the United States. Newly-empowered, they lapped up the writings of authors like Betty Friedan (The Feminine Mystique).

Equal pay and opportunities (not a bad thing – it was something my mother fought for, and won, back in the 1940s) gave them a new-found financial standing. They no longer had to depend upon a husband’s income. A good thing, particularly if you were widowed. In fact, they didn’t need a husband at all. Marriages began to founder. Some women didn’t marry at all. They had found “freedom” in the Sexual Revolution.

They could have it all. Careers, kids, husband-less lives. When women agitated for voting rights, is this what they were voting for? The Feminists started running into trouble, though, when it came to child-raising.

Yeah, being able to go to work was a great thing, bringing in money. The husbands certainly didn’t mind the extra cash. But who was going to look after the kids? The duty was devolved to put-upon grandparents and other relatives, dubious daycare centers, and the public school system.

The Latch Key Generation was thus born. They started bossing their parents around about everything from rain forests in South America to green energy cars. Finally, the Moms had enough and started asking themselves, “What the heck is going on here? Where are they getting all this stuff?”

Still, Conservative housewives tended to leave the political battles to their husbands (who’d thrown up their hands). Then came the Tea Parties. There were only a handful of women, but they were listening. The Tea Party was supposed to be about overweaning taxes.

But the Mothers of America wanted to know what was going on with their kids’ education. Their husbands generally did the taxes. But it was up to Mom to start checking the homework. And the Constitution.

Already, mothers are feeling the overreach of the bureaucratic federal government. They can’t bring cupcakes to school, give their children whole milk, white bread, or peanut butter. French fries are out. So is soda (frankly, my mother wouldn’t let us near the stuff – but that was the United States of Mom, not the United States of America, making that decision).

What can American mothers expect from a liberal nominee like Kagan except that she will gleefully legislate from the bench? Liberal pundits, ever mindful of those boiling tea kettles, that she’s actually a fairly moderate choice, albeit with no experience, like her boss, Obama.

Untested though she is, she has pronounced her opinion that the Constitution is a living, malleable document that can be molded to suit the political fortunes of the times, rather than a concrete, dependable set of laws. What house can stand solidly upon such a weak legal foundation, where enemies may remove the bricks that support the house and bring it tumbling down?

Women – mothers – may or may not understand the vagaries of political football. But they understand house and home, security and their children’s future all too well. Reading and interpreting the Constitution with these in mind, they have an adept and discerning understanding of the founding document of our nation.

The Framers were thinking of them when they wrote it, even if voting rights weren’t yet established within its framework. Did they know back in 1787 that it would be destroyed by woman’s hand, who clamored for their rights within it in 1919?

But those were Liberal women who brought about the right to destroy the very Constitution that eventually guaranteed their rights as Americans. Conservative women must rise to the challenge, and for their children’s sake, protect and preserve the U.S. Constitution as the Founding Fathers originally framed it.


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