When asked how the Supreme Court should view precedent, Justice Thomas said, “The ultimate precedent is the Constitution,” and “not what we say it is,” but “what it actually says.” Only this understanding will counter the “living constitution” that has breathed life into the “Leviathan” of big government.
In a speech earlier this month at Stetson Law School in Florida, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas addressed the Court’s recent decision regarding corporate expenditures in connection with political campaigns. Controversial as the decision was, something he said surely was more controversial to liberals and law professors in our nation’s “elite” law schools.
Liberals and a significant number of law professors, if not a strong majority in our nation’s most prominent law schools, believe in the “living constitution,” an approach to constitutional interpretation which “breathes life” into the dead, ancient words of a bygone era. For them, the plain language of the Constitution must be liberated from the shackles of history and infused with meaning based on current societal mores.
While this approach surely would keep the Constitution “current” in loosing it from history and original intent, it also breathes life into a judiciary that has become an aristocratic, sovereign body that has itself become the supreme law of the land. And it frustrates the purpose of the Constitution as described by President Thomas Jefferson, a favorite of liberals who like to use his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association as a means of infusing a “separation of church and state” into the First Amendment’s establishment clause. Jefferson said, “In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
In essence, the “chains” of the Constitution, intended to protect our liberties from abuses of power that would threaten our liberty, are now seen as shackles from which we must be liberated if we are to be free. What a perversion of history by modern-day liberal legal scholars, which makes the comments by Justice Thomas so refreshing to those who believe in limited, constitutional government and so irritating to those who do not.
In view of the fact that the Court’s corporate spending decision reversed existing precedent on campaign finances, he was asked how he thought the Court should view precedence and the legal doctrine of stare decisis (meaning a decision made should stand). Here was his answer:
If [precedence] is wrong, the ultimate precedent is the Constitution, and it’s not what we say it is. It’s what it actually says. And I think we have to be humble enough to say we were wrong.
To which I can only say, Justice Thomas, long may your days be on the Court, and may more Americans see that they need to be set free from the shackles, not of the Constitution, but of tyrannical judges who, with their “living constitution,” have breathed life into the great “Leviathan” of big government. Let’s free ourselves from judicial activists and “chain” them down with the Constitution.