A Modern America

The Constitution of the United States went into effect March 4, 1789.  That was two hundred and twenty three years ago.

Everything about the world has changed in that 223 year period of time.

There is a large difference between an intellectual conservative (if there is such a person) and an ideological conservative.  And there is an even bigger difference between a liberal/progressive and a conservative of any stripe.

On page 4 of Jan Crawford’s story about Chief Justice Roberts “switching” his vote are two comments attributed to the Chief Justice that define How the United States became the preeminent power on the planet.

“People, for good reasons of their own, often fail to do things that would be good for them or good for society. Those failures – joined with the similar failures of others – can readily have a substantial effect on interstate commerce,” Roberts wrote in his opinion. “Under the government’s logic, that authorizes Congress to use its commerce power to compel citizens to act as the government would have them act.

“That is not the country the framers of our Constitution envision,” Roberts wrote.

Of course it isn’t.  When the Constitution was being written in the summer of 1787, the state of Ohio was still 28 years into the future.

But the framers were smart enough to put together a document that could be interpreted in light of changing times.  The interpretation of the ‘commerce clause’ that held sway up until last Thursday is the single biggest reason the United States emerged as the post-WW2 that it was.

From Wikipedia

During the post-1937 era, the use of the Commerce Clause by Congress to authorize federal control of economic matters became effectively unlimited. During the latter half of the Rehnquist Court era, Congressional use of the Commerce Clause became slightly restricted again, reserving to states more authority over economic activity conducted within their borders.

Back to the last sentence of Roberts quoted above

“That is not the country the framers of our Constitution envision,” Roberts wrote.

Of course it isn’t.  No one in 1789 could have predicted where we are today.  That is why the Constitution, as written, as amended and as interpreted is one of the best documents ever conceived of by humankind.

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