Shortsighted Americans

Last week a committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court recommended that President Clinton be disbarred for "serious misconduct" in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. The committee said Clinton should be disciplined for lying about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky during his deposition. You say, "Williams, get off the President's back. It was just about sex and everybody lies about that!" It's not just about sex! Let's look at it.

First, forget about the sex aspect of the story and Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. Let's ask more general questions. If a president has been charged with act X, do you think he should use the power of his office to obstruct investigation of the act? Do you think he should be able to get members of his staff, associates, and members of his political party to launch personal, public attacks on a duly appointed officer of the court in an attempt to discredit him? You'd probably answer no to these general questions. But with Clinton our problem was we couldn't see the forest for the trees and as a result we've created a dangerous precedent. A future president might commit an act far worse than Clinton's but we've already established what a president can do when he's being investigated.

As American education and intelligence becomes replaced by feelings and emotion, not seeing the forest for the trees has become a major problem. Take the leftist and news media attack on a couple of U.S. Supreme Court decisions. In 1995, in United States v. Lopez, the Court by a 5-4 decision held that a federal law banning guns around schools was unconstitutional. The dumbed down American probably thinks the reason the Court's majority struck down the law was because they are either for, or indifferent to, guns being around schools. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (5-4) in United States v. Morrison et. al. that a woman alleging rape could not sue in the federal courts for a remedy. America's leftists can now convince the dumbed down American that Supreme Court justices are indifferent about rape.

Both of these cases alleged that Congress has the authority, under the "commerce clause" of the Constitution Congress, to ban guns around schools and provide remedies for sex-related crimes. The U.S. Supreme Court sensibly ruled that the "commerce clause" can't be applied to just anything.

State laws make carrying guns around a school illegal and punishable. State laws also make rape illegal and punishable. State courts have the power to punish people for these crimes. Leftists know this; so what's the story? For leftists the issue is not about criminal remedies; their agenda calls for greater concentration of power in Washington.

James Madison, explained Washington's role in The Federalist Papers: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State." That's what the Tenth Amendment is about: "Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Leftists have seriously damaged this restraint on Washington. I say three cheers for the members of the Supreme Court who are trying to resurrect it.

Walter E. Williams
May 29, 2000
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