The New York Times Versus the People...Again

June 23, 2005 

When Congress finally does something, in a manner expressly provided for by the Constitution, how does the Times react?  They wrap their bias in judicial robes and cry “unconstitutional”.  Like all hyperactive children, the editorial staff at the Times lives in a self-created fantasy land.

Not happy with Federal District Court Judge Richard Young’s ruling to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Gibson County Courthouse lawn in Princeton, Indiana, Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN.) introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill that would “prohibit funds in the Act from being used to enforce the judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in the case of Russelburg v. Gibson County”.  Hostettler's amendment passed in a House vote by 242-182. 

Well, at least 57% of the House voted not to fund the Ten Commandments removal.  It’s a good majority, but not quite as good as the 77% of Americans that, according to a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, support displaying the Ten Commandments on public property.  But what’s 77% of “we the people” compared to the whim a single federal judge...and the opinion of the NYT’s.

And speaking of the NYT’s...those eminent freedom fighters declared this amendment to be a “dangerous swipe at the power of the courts.”  As opposed to the courts taking dangerous swipes at the power of the people, the Times believes that this Congressional “vote threatens the judiciary's long-acknowledged position as the final arbiter of the Constitution”.

The Times wants you to believe that “Since the Supreme Court decided Marbury v. Madison in 1803, it has been clearly established that the courts have the ultimate power to interpret the Constitution.”  And, Representative Hostettler's amendment is the dirty work of “right-wing ideologues, unhappy with some of the courts' rulings” who “have begun to question this principle as part of a broader war on the federal judiciary”. 

According to the Times, that dirty insurgent (Hostettler) declared a Congressional jihad “to use Congress's power to stop the courts from standing up for the First Amendment and other constitutional principles”.

The Times frets that the Hostettler amendment is “truly radical” because “The genius of the American system is that the founders carefully balanced power among three coequal branches”.  With a sense of crisis from the Senator Byrd playbook, the Times warns that “Mr. Hostettler's amendment would throw out this brilliant structure, and 200 years of constitutional history....”

Now that we have the Upper West Side version of this story...let’s look at the facts.

As any sixth grade student should know (and thanks to the NEA, most don’t), the Constitution clearly segments governmental power into three branches: the Legislative (Article I); the Executive (Article II) and the Judicial (Article III).

Article I, Section 8, Clause I specifically grants Congress the power “To lay and collect Taxes...to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”.  Only Congress is constitutionally mandated with the power to tax and spend your money. 

In addition to vesting the “judicial Power of the United States...in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish”, Article III allows that “The Judges...shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall...receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”  Oh yeah...Article III also outlines the conditions under which someone may be tried for Treason.  I bet the NYT’s wants to forget that part.

As to the Times’ ridiculous allegation that governmental power was “carefully balanced” between three “coequal branches”...it just ain’t so.

The system of checks and balances that the Times refers to is a system where power is loaned to the government, by the people, and checked by the segmentation of that government into three strongly independent branches.  The Founders hoped that this segmentation would prevent any one branch, or faction, from gaining too much permanent power. 

These branches were never meant to have equality in perpetuity.  In fact, James Madison wrote in Federalist # 51 that “it is not possible to give to each department an equal power...In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates”. 

Splitting the legislature into the Senate and House was another check in the form of staggering office terms and methods of election.  Each branch, and each member of that branch, has an intentional competing interest that balances power throughout the government and checks the power of that government over the ultimate sovereignty of the people.

More to the point...the sanctity with which the Times references Marbury v. Madison is a joke.  In Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court gave itself the power of judicial review which was never granted to it by the Founders or the Constitution...they just made it up.   Marbury v. Madison was, in itself, a power grab by the Supreme Court which is now being duly checked by the legislature.

By checking the power of the Court with the Legislative power of the purse stings, Representative Hostettler is doing exactly what the Founders and Constitution intended.  Although the elitist little cabal over at the Times doesn’t like this, the Supreme Court was never intended to rule by fiat.  The winning, and keeping, of freedom is a dynamic process of conflict which insures that no one branch of government ever usurps the power loaned to it by the people.

As Judith Niewiadomski points out, “Today, special interest groups gain by judicial fiat what they could never obtain by the legislative process -- that is, through the representatives of the people. This is the type of tyranny that inspired the American Revolution.”

King George III’s tyranny taught the Founders the wisdom of constructing a government that would fragment power and keep the control of that power in conflict...specifically to prevent one branch or faction from permanently usurping that power from the people from which it is derived.

The definition of tyranny is the holding of all power in one set of hands.  Just as the Supreme Court has to deal with the power of the Legislature, the New York Times has to deal with the power of the New Media.  Nobody ever said you have to like it...but you will have to live with it.

 

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