On This Constitution Day, We Mourn The Constitution

Thirty plus years ago I raised my hand and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America when I was sworn in as an attorney.┬áThirty years is a long time but I remember thinking about how important that oath was and how I was now empowered by our government to protect “We, the People.” I don’t think I gave it a second thought that I might be taking an oath that I could not keep. I have no idea when I lost faith in that oath but I can truthfully state that I realized I was losing my allegiance at the beginning of the past decade following the Supreme Court’s involvement in the infamous decision of Bush v. Gore and that my oath was of no import to me as recently as January 21, 2010, when I read the majority and concurring opinions in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. At that moment, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, the entire framework of the United States government were sold to Corporate America. The enormity of those two decisions is unquestionable. The involvement of one branch of our government to change an election and then 10 years later to change the entire election process speaks to the chipping away of our democracy and our Constitution. And when I watched the GOP controlled House of Representatives attempt to read the Constitution as a ‘tip-of-the-hat’ to the new Tea Party movement and the power they wielded during this past election cycle, I smiled. It was a sad smile. The smile of someone who realizes that Santa doesn’t exist.

Constitutionalists will boo and hiss at my proclamation that the Constitution is no longer a key player in our government and I dread telling them that a traditional Constitutionalist ceased to exist on the day the highest court in this land, a court without review, a group of individuals with lifetime employment, rewrote the Preamble to the Constitution to read: “We, the Corporations.” A “Constitutionalist” is commonly defined as a constitutional conservative or one whose beliefs lie in small government in both size and scope. The judiciary, following a strict construction of the Constitution, is commonly referred to as strict constructionists. Simple definitions, but no longer meaningful. It is my opinion that the decision in Citizens United robbed our Constitutionalists of the ability to define any governmental action as small given the newly formed election process that was put into place by the Supreme Court of this land. The Supreme Court has given the super rich inconceivable political power and along with that power, the ability to buy and sell our governmental process. By a stroke of a pen and the agreement of 5 men, a corporation now has First Amendment rights along with enormous political power that was never considered by our forefathers when our Constitution was written or debated. And while Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took the role as a strict constructionist stating during oral arguments on Citizens United that “a corporation, after all, is not endowed by its creator with inalienable rights,” her strict construction of the Constitution fell on deaf ears.

We all know what has happened since the opinion was rendered. It is estimated that over a billion dollars will be spent on the general election of 2012 attempting to buy our next president. Most of this money will be provided by the wealthiest individuals in our society, and most of the transactions will be done in secret. I sound cynical. I am not. While I believe We, the People, have nothing to celebrate this Constitution Day, I believe in We, the People and the ability of our Constitution to be resuscitated. I witnessed We, the People, (with some help from the unions and others) make baby steps in Wisconsin and now in Ohio. State by state, We, the People, are rising up and making our voices heard above the drum beat of the corporate “citizens” funding corporate representatives. I’ve been on this earth and participated in many elections and there is something different in the air. We, the People, want our country back. Whether you are liberal, conservative, independent or libertarian, We, the People, make up over 90 percent of those falling outside of the wealth that now controls our elections. Together, united, we can and will take back our Constitution and it will, contrary to Justice Scalia’s viewpoint, “live and breathe” again.

Edited by Wendy Gittleson