The American Constitution, Cafeteria-Style

The Constitution has become a partisan document, only invoked to serve the interests of the two parties whenever it suites them. Photo: President Obama signs executive orders outlining proposals to reduce gun violence

WASHINGTON, February 4, 2013 – Conservatives were furious over President Obama’s recent decision to sign executive orders concerning the regulation of firearms.

Critics on the right claimed that the President’s actions were unconstitutional. Others went further in their criticism. GOP Congressman Steve Stockman threatened to pass articles of impeachment if President Obama should try to sign his executive orders into law.

Stockman compared Obama to deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein:

“He’s even using children. It reminds me of Saddam Hussein when he used kids.”

On the other end of the political spectrum, the left congratulated their leader for passing executive orders to specifically deal with firearms. There are also plans to pass legislation in Congress.

In an interview on CNN Senator Dianne Feinstein alluded to some of those plans, saying:

“…and so we have tried to prepare a bill which essentially exempts over 2,000,200 weapons, outlaws 185. Sets up a one physical characteristic test for an assault weapon, requires a background test when that assault weapon is transferred or sold.”

This ongoing debate offers yet another example of the Constitution’s continuing erosion into little more than a partisan document, conveniently “trotted out” out of its dusty resting place to be embraced by whichever of the parties is seeking justification to pass or oppose a measure at the time.

Both major parties seem quite comfortable, and see no hypocrisy, in interpreting and brandishing the Constitution for their own party-purposes one moment, and condemning the other for doing likewise, even given the same issues.

The Republican Party that attacked Obama for his signature of executive orders was the very same party that defended President Bush’s executive orders.

When challenged over the unconstitutionality of the Bush’s executive actions, conservatives would argue that they were necessary because “he kept us safe.”

In the post 9/11 Bush White House, Republicans also used the same logic to defend the unconstitutionality of the Patriot Act, issuing signing statements, and allowing warrantless domestic wiretapping and spying.

Democrats, invoking the rule of law, responded then with an outrage similar to that currently displayed by the Republicans over Obama’s recent executive orders. Further, not unlike Republican Congressman Steve Stockman, several Democrats in Congress threatened President Bush with articles of impeachment if he did not stop his abuse of the American people’s civil liberties.

In 2008, candidate Obama promised to restore due process, habeas corpus, and uphold the rule of law should he be elected. Ironically, today, President Obama continues to expand upon many of the policies of his predecessor for which he had claimed such contempt.

The recent lip service paid to America’s Bill of Rights is nothing new; perhaps acknowledging just how far we have strayed. Seeing the need to revisit America’s founding principles, the 112th Congress became the first session of Congress in the history of the nation to read the entire Constitution aloud.

Sadly, even after dedicating the time and effort to read the entire document, Congress has not repealed many of the unconstitutional acts which both parties still endorse, depending, of course, upon the issue and on which side of the aisle one is seated.

If the rule of law is not properly applied and enforced in its entirety, then the Constitution will forever remain a cafeteria-style, “pick-what-you- like”, partisan talking point used only to further the agenda of those for whom it is most convenient at the time.


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Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is currently a college student majoring in History and Political Science. His writings have appeared in The Daily Local, Lew’s blog, The Washington Times,, and Freedom’s Phoenix Online Digital Magazine. He has been a popular guest political contributor to numerous national radio shows across the country, offering his perspective on a wide array of issues. 

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