Can the Supreme Court make rulings that are unconstitutional?
While this question appears on the surface to be an oxymoron, it is in fact possible and has happened previously.
Our founding fathers set up principles that are supposed to set limits on each branch of government that would make it difficult or impossible for one branch to run the government in any way they see fit. For it to work properly each branch must exercise its authority under the Constitution. If one branch attempts to exercise powers not granted to them by the constitution the other branches must step in put a stop to it. If they do not, we end up with a constitution that means nothing and a dictatorship.
The Supreme Court’s powers are limited to making decisions based on the confines placed on them by the Constitution. If they make rulings based on their political or personal bias they violate their oath of office and damage the reputation of the court.
As Chief Justice Marshal said,
“The oath of office, too, imposed by the legislature, is completely demonstrative of the legislative opinion on the subject. It is in these words,
I do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich; and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent on me as according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the constitution, and laws of the United States.
Why does a judge swear to discharge his duties agreeably to the constitution of the United States, if that Constitution forms no rule for his government? If it is closed upon him, and cannot be inspected by him?
If such be the real state of things, this is worse than solemn mockery. To prescribe, or to take this oath, becomes equally a crime.
Thus, the particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.”
A recent example of a perversion of the Constitution is the ruling regarding eminent domain that stated a private entity can take your property by order of the court if they can pay more taxes than you.
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another to further economic development. The case arose from the condemnation by New London, Connecticut, of privately owned real property so that it could be used as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan which promised 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues. The Court held in a 5–4 decision that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified such redevelopment plans as a permissible “public use” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
The city eventually agreed to move Susette Kelo’s house to a new location and to pay substantial additional compensation to other homeowners. The redeveloper was unable to obtain financing and abandoned the redevelopment project, leaving the land as an empty lot, which was eventually turned into a dump by the city.
On June 25, 2005, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the principal dissent, joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas. The dissenting opinion suggested that the use of this taking power in a reverse Robin Hood fashion— take from the poor, give to the rich— would become the norm, not the exception:
“Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.”
She argued that the decision eliminates “any distinction between private and public use of property — and thereby effectively delete[s] the words ‘for public use’ from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.” 125 S.Ct. 2655, 2671
Clarence Thomas also penned a separate originalist dissent, in which he argued that the precedents the court’s decision relied upon were flawed and that “something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution.” He accuses the majority of replacing the Fifth Amendment’s “Public Use” clause with a very different “public purpose” test: “This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a ‘public use.’
Justice can be sweet as the final cost to the city and state for the purchase and bulldozing of the formerly privately held property was a reported $78 million.
You did not have be a graduate of Harvard Law to understand that the Supreme Court over stepped its bounds and violated the Constitution. Four members of the Supreme Court disregarded the plain language of the Constitution and decided to expand government power beyond that which was permitted under the law. No one is required to obey an unlawful order. The legislature should have stopped any attempt to enforce this order. No common sense here!
The Court’s first decision declaring Executive Branch action to be unconstitutional, Little v Barreme (1804), called the Flying Fish case, involved an order by President John Adams, issued in 1799 during our brief war with France, authorizing the Navy to seize ships bound for French ports. The president’s order was inconsistent with an act of Congress declaring the government to have no such authorization. After a Navy Captain in December 1799 seized the Danish vessel, the Flying Fish, pursuant to Adams’s order, the owners of the ship sued the captain for trespass in U. S. maritime court. On appeal, C. J. Marshall rejected the captain’s argument that he could not be sued because he was just following presidential orders. The Court noted that commanders “act at their own peril” when they obey invalid orders–and the president’s order was outside of his powers, given the congressional action. The court should also recognize that should its rulings be judged unconstitutional by the legislature, no one is bound by its decisions. There is a two way street here. No judge is above the Constitution!
If Obama wins reelection it appears that he will have the opportunity to appoint two additional members of the Supreme Court. This could well prove to be the straw that breaks the back of our Republic. It is clear that Obama and his minions have intent to push this country and our society into a form of government not based on the Constitution or with coequal branches of government.
It is said, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Sadly, the political elite has been in power so long that corruption has become the norm rather than the exception.
All governments stay in power based on the will of the people. History clearly shows us that governments can by force (passive or active) render the people’s will ineffective but over time the people will no longer tolerate oppression and rise up and take back their basic rights.
Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is reported to have said, that the U.S. does not have to “tolerate radical, anti-American judges rewriting the American Constitution.”
I could not agree more.