The enormous size of the federal government is not very popular either. A Gallup poll conducted last September found that more than half of Americans believe that “the federal government has too much power.” Unpopularity aside, keep in mind that history has well established that government cannot grow without a corresponding decline in the economy, peace, and the rule of law. One need look no further than past empires to see what fate awaits a citizenry that concentrates all its power in one central government. How is it then that the U.S. government has morphed from a limited Republic designed by the Constitution to a virtually all-powerful behemoth? How did the Constitution, which was designed to carefully define and limit the powers of the national government, become an open-ended grant of power to that very same government? Perhaps an answer can be found in the U.S. Supreme Court, the entity “conventional wisdom” believes is entrusted with the sole power to interpret the Constitution.
A federal government website, “Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government,” contains a cartoon version of Ben Franklin explaining how our current system of government works. The site includes the following proclamation: “One of the Supreme Court’s most important responsibilities is to decide cases that raise questions of constitutional interpretation. The Court decides if a law or government action violates the Constitution.… Since the Supreme Court stands as the ultimate authority in constitutional interpretation, its decisions can be changed only by another Supreme Court decision or by a constitutional amendment.” (Emphasis added.)
What’s wrong with this you might ask? New York Times best-selling author and historian Thomas Woods provided the answer clearly and concisely at the Campaign for Liberty’s January 15 regional meeting when he discussed the views of Thomas Jefferson: “Jefferson’s concern was that if we say the federal government has a monopoly on interpreting the Constitution, what do you think is going to happen? This is not brain surgery. If they have a monopoly on interpreting the Constitution, they’re going to interpret it in their own favor. Surprise! Then we all scratch our heads and wonder, ‘Why has the government gotten so completely out of control?’” Woods hammered home how completely preposterous it is for the Supreme Court to have the sole and final say on the extent of federal power with the following analogy: “If you enter into a contract with somebody, never, ever would you say that the other party in the contract can exclusively interpret what it means…. Obviously, if only one party in a contract can interpret it, it’s going to interpret it in its own favor!” Continue reading