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Friday, July 26, 2013

Ironically Unconstitutional

As we approach the Fourteenth Amendment's ratification date, I've been thinking about all the Reconstruction Amendments and the entire problem of reintegrating rebels into our nation.  One of the ironies to come out of the process is that there are people even now who assert that the 14th itself is unconstitutional.  A fun sampling from over the years:

I'm sure there are others, but these are representative of the crackpot way of "thinking" and "arguing" about such things.*  Anyway, I can't get over the irony of some people complaining about an allegedly unconstitutional process, just after an entire segment of the nation tried unconstitutionally to leave.

I think Thaddeus Stevens said it best on August 2, 1861, regarding a confiscation bill:

Who pleads the Constitution against our proposed action? Who says the Constitution must come in, in bar of our action? It is the advocates of rebels who have sought to overthrow the Constitution, who repudiate the Constitution and trample it in the dust.

Sir, these rebels, who have disregarded and set at defiance that instrument, are by every rule of municipal and international law, estopped from pleading it against our action. Who, then, is it that comes to us and says, 'You can not do this thing because your Constitution does not permit it'?

The Constitution! Our Constitution which you repudiate and trample under foot, forbids it! Sir, it is an absurdity.

While I'm generally not so extreme as Stevens in most things, I would go a little further than he does here and note that the Constitution explicitly gives Congress the power to suppress rebellions, and to seize property after due process (which the bill in question established).  If confiscating material that aids the seceding states helps achieve that end, then the Union has every right and power to do so.  Regardless, I'm not sure any state in rebellion against the Constitution can then cry about the victors deciding how to let them back under Constitutional protections.

A little later we'll take a gander at Charles Sumner's "state suicide" theory and application of the Guarantee Clause, but that's it for now. 


* Naturally there are other conspiracy theories swirling around the "missing" 13th Amendmentthe 16th Amendment and the 17th Amendment.

July 26, 2013 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink


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Somebody please tell Rick Perry... maybe thinking about it will make his head explode.

Unless you are from a state in which secessionists, nullification advocates, etc. are as vocal as Perry, you have no idea how disruptive they are to those of us living here who have striven our very best to make the Union work and to establish beyond question that Texas is a part of it. If I were a violent man... fortunately I'm not... I'd slap such bastards silly. But even that wouldn't help.

Posted by: Steve Bates | Jul 26, 2013 12:59:49 PM

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