Both parties’ policy plans come up short of constitutional

G. Elliott Morris

This year’s Independence Day was the United States’ 240th anniversary of the issuance of the Declaration of Independence. June 21 also marked 228th anniversary of the ratification of the United States Constitution, an event that was overshadowed by the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting. In an age of much political polarization and many cries of “That’s against the second amendment!” and “You’re violating my right to privacy!” it is no wonder that Americans aren’t focused on their common history.

Perhaps this divide is more because of the validity of criticisms coming from both sides of the aisle rather than a surface-level understanding of political events. Several Supreme Court decisions have proven just this in overruling unconstitutional legislative and executive actions from both the state and federal governments. There is real reason for many Americans to be angry at their leaders when, technically, they are not upholding the Founders’ intent by violating the Constitution.

The Supreme Court’s ruling against the Obama Administration’s executive action on immigration is an example of elected officials’ disregard for the Constitution. This ruling was a victory for conservatives who believed Obama had overstepped his executive power by directing law enforcement to defer deportation of undocumented immigrants. This executive overreach is something that Democrats should acknowledge as a violation of the Constitution.

Democrats’ efforts to pass “no fly no buy” legislation similarly drew ire. Popular criticism arose that terrorist watch lists are arbitrary and error prone and would deny the Constitution’s Fifth and 14th Amendments’ Due Process guarantees to law-abiding gun seekers. This skepticism is justifiably placed, as it was against Obama’s executive action, in the text of the Constitution.

Democrats aren’t the only members of the accused.

A slew of Supreme Court decisions were delivered in the late weeks of June that identify Constitutional infractions made by GOP lawmakers. Primarily is the Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that struck down Texas abortion restrictions for placing an “undue burden” on a woman’s previously found constitutional right to an abortion. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick magnified his disregard for the Constitution by denouncing the Court and vowing to revive similar legislation to HB2, which he co-authored. Patrick has previously stated that, although HB2 does not serve this purpose, his end goal is stopping abortion. This complete abolition of abortion would be extremely contrary to the constitutional court precedent guarantee of the right to abortion as established in Roe v Wade.

Other GOP infractions include: the continued fight against marriage for same-sex couples, a constitutional right announced in Obergefell v. Hodges to be found in the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause; and the pseudo-fight for Texas secession, which Antonin Scalia, the late Supreme Court Justice, settled by saying, “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”

Looking ahead to America’s next two hundred years, it would be wise to listen to the words of history’s chief defender of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, who wrote, “Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.” If the United States is to remain united for an additional two-and-a-half centuries, a certain amount of reconciliation will need to occur.

Morris is a Government major for Port Aransas. Follow him on Twitter @gelliottmorris.