constitution1.pngOn Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul filibustered. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both dependable RINOs, slammed Paul’s filibuster. Why Rand Paul’s Filibuster Matters provides a list of reasons for the filibuster.

Why the excitement over an especially long-winded speech? Paul insisted that the people in charge pay due respect to the document the have sworn to uphold.

A Clear Misuse of the Filibuster, a post at Red NoVA, details the reasons to oppose Paul’s filibuster, basically calling the filibuster a stunt. But such a description misses the point. Unless we hold our leaders accountable to the Constitution, what good is it? And some people have begun to notice what is happening. They have noted a contradiction. Our leaders now tell us that unless the Constitution says they cannot do something, they can do it. However, the Constitution itself says that is not true.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Constitution delegates powers to the Federal Government by saying what it can do, not what it can’t do. Nonetheless, Congress consumes most of the Federal Budget on programs that only the ignorant or devious would say the Constitution authorizes.

Anyway, Senator Rand Paul has explained his reason for the filibuster in an editorial. Please read it.

PAUL: Rising in defense of the Constitution: ‘Giving up the Bill of Rights and the Fifth Amendment is  a travesty’

On Wednesday, I rose to begin a filibuster on the nomination of John  O. Brennan to be director of the CIA.  I stood up with the intent of speaking until I was no longer able to speak. I  vowed to speak as long as it took, until an alarm was sounded from coast to  coast that our Constitution is important, that our rights to trial by jury are  precious, and that no American should be killed by a drone on U.S. soil without  having been found guilty in a court of law.

I didn’t rise to oppose Mr. Brennan’s  nomination simply based on him as a person. I rose to defend the principles of  our Constitution, principles for which we have fought long and hard. To give up  on that principle — the Bill of Rights, the Fifth Amendment — is a travesty. I  will not sit back and allow the president to shred our Constitution. (continued here)


  1. McCain and Graham sounded like a lot of sour grapes to me. The Young Guns of the Republican party stole the spotlight for the week by standing up for the constitution, calling attention to the fact that no one in Washington seems the slightest bit concerned about drones in our skies–much less weaponized drones operated by our military–overshadowing their dinner with Obama and having the moxi to get bipartison support for the filibuster. Those two (McCain & Graham) have demonstrated that they are NOT the future of the party. They are the death knell.


  2. The Constitution both grants powers and contains prohibitions. There are several elements that “say what the [federal] government cannot do” in addition to saying what it can do. I’m not sure where this idea comes from that there are only positive authorizations in the document. It seems to rattle around unchecked in the uninformed blogosphere.


  3. Nothing “disagreeable” at all about it, Tom. I happen to know as a matter of hard fact, that I was quite cheerful when I wrote that. I always feel fairly chipper when I help people learn things.

    I was embroidering a bit on your statement that the federal government only has powers that are expressly granted to it and that its limitations are not defined “by what it cannot do”. I see that quite a bit, but rarely do people making that point include the fact that, aside from express grants (like the authority to mint coinage – discussed in an earlier post re Mr. Marshall’s strange legislative initiative) there are also express prohibitions on what the federal government (and in some cases, the states) can do.


    1. novascout – The main body of the Constitution authorizes the Federal Government to do certain things, and it says how the Federal Government will operate. The Bill of Right adds certain prohibitions.


  4. Not exactly, but there is a bit of accuracy in what you say. What you call “the main body” of the Constitution has a number of prohibitions on the federal government (e.g., head taxes, bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, religious tests for office, etc. etc.) and on the states (too many to list, but see Article I, section 10, for examples). Then, on top of that, we have amendments, including the Bill of Rights that have further prohibitions and limitations on state and federal authority.


  5. novascout – Article I, section 10 lists prohibitions on the power of the states. It is there to help define Federal powers that once belonged to the states; that is, Article I, section 10 keeps the states out of what has become the turf of the Federal Government.

    Go back and read the 10th Amendment again. I am not trying to say that the main body of the Constitution does not contain any prohibitions on Federal power. There are a few. All I am trying to do is point to the 10th Amendment and remind people that it says what it says.

    You want to argue? Don’t argue with me. Debate with the 10th Amendment.


  6. I think that’s what I said, Tom. And why would a staunch constitutional conservative like me ever want to argue or debate with the Tenth Amendment? I’ve defended it in court and think it’s just dandy.


    1. novascout – Folks can read for themselves what you said, and they can also judge for themselves whether or not you are a “staunch constitutional conservative.”

      You say you are a lawyer. If so, you are representing your profession poorly. Instead of being a petty annoyance, why don’t you actually attempt say something instructive?


  7. Facts and sound information are rarely annoying, and, when they are, it’s usually because people form beliefs that hang on misperceptions, misunderstandings, or faulty information and find it annoyingly inconvenient to adjust to reality. I can’t see how it’s not “instructive” to offer up the indisputable point that the Constitution is not a simple matter of granting a few enumerated powers to the federal government while reserving everything else to the States. That’s a common misperception that seems to have quite a few people in thrall these days. The document is relatively short and sweet, but it does have a fairly balanced mix of grants and prohibitions on government at all levels, coupled with a short, but hugely important, statement of individual rights that cannot be abridged (expression, petition, religion, the right to bear arms -although this one is subject to regulation – , protections against unauthorized search and seizure, confiscation of life, liberty or property without due process of law, forced quartering of troops, involuntary servitude, cruel and unusual punishment, and right to a jury of peers in most cases.

    One of the current embarrassments in the nouveau “conservative” blogosphere is that there is a great deal of ignorance and confusion about what is actually in the Constitution. The medium is one in which it is easy to just amplify misstatements over and over until folks who haven’t had the chance to really examine things pick up misinformation as if it were some sort of gospel. I try to help out as best I can. I doubt that anyone who is really interested in these things finds it annoying in the least. It’s a service that protects folks against further embarrassment.

    If I can figure out how to do it, I’ll start adding little smiley emoticons to show how cheerfully I go about this task.


  8. Thanks, Tom. It’s much appreciated when my conservatism is validated in the midst of a lot of confusion about what conservatism really is.

    On the Tenth Amendment – it has little to do with the drone issue that Rand Paul was chasing. My own view is that the idea that the Government was intending or contemplating the use of drones (or other lethal force) against US citizens in the US was complete Chicken Little nonsense. Unfortunately, however, the Administration left itself open to that kind on hysterical thinking by being more vague and guarded than it needed to be about addressing the issue and by getting bogged down in hypotheticals and circumlocutions when trying to explain the policy when drones were used against Americans overseas. I’m only aware of one such issue – in Yemen, but there may have been more. In the case I know about, the guy they killed was clearly someone who had gone over to the other side, and was an enemy combatant. He may have been a traitor (in the constitutional sense) to boot.

    Holder’s two sentence answer could not have been more clear. I can just sense the AG muttering as his staff handed him the letter to sign, “you’ve got to be kidding – we really need to say this?”

    In any event, the Tenth Amendment doesn’t address the issue in any way shape or form. The Fifth Amendment is more on point, isn’t it?


  9. novascout – Read carefully. Use the dictionary if you have to.

    Staunched Conservative.

    What is the issue? What is at issue is that we cannot trust the people leading us. Because they have not shown the capacity to keep the oath they made to support and defend the Constitution, they cannot be trusted.


  10. I was commenting on the post, which was about Rand Paul’s filibuster, which was, in turn, about the issue of possible use of drones in a domestic context. Was this an allegory for some other issue? I am a relatively simple soul who took the words (I presume you wrote them) at face value.


  11. Yes – when I said the Tenth Amendment “has little to do with the issue Rand Paul was chasing. . .” it was my way of saying that I did not think the Tenth Amendment was relevant to the discussion. I see it (and Senator Paul did also) as primarily as a Fifth Amendment issue.

    When you noted that “. . . most observe that you [i.e., old Scout here] are [a] staunched [sic] conservative.” I took that to mean that most people who read me acknowledge that I am a steadfast conservative. I took “staunched” to be a typo or misuse of the adjective “staunch”, meaning solid or steadfast. The word “staunched” itself is not in my dictionary, although I suppose it could be a misspelled past tense for the verb “to stanch”, meaning to stop bleeding from a wound. However, it would make no sense if used that way in your sentence.

    Haven’t figured out the smiley faces yet. You can just assume they are grinning from the end of all my good-natured comments here. I’m not particularly adept technically, and write out all my comments with a quill pen on foolscap before having my secretary post them up electronically.


  12. No problem. That ‘s the first time I’ve ever had to translate simple, direct English into simple English. I think there may be a future in that.


  13. Our dictionaries appear to be in substantial agreement. If there is a difference, I guess I was reading your use to mean the second definition indicating a substantial or solid conservative and you may have been concentrating on the “loyal, dependable element of the first definition. Either describes me accurately, so I sense no disagreement on this point. You should, however, drop the “ed”. This is a verb form that can’t have any articulate meaning unless one likens Conservatism to blood pouring out of a wound.

    By the way, while we’re talking dictionaries and word forms, that last sentence of yours is a doozy. Remember when we were taught to diagram sentences? You have past perfect conditional phrase, followed by another pluperfect construction preceded by the future preposition “before”, followed by another clause in the perfect tense, followed by the “probably” clause in some sort of perfect,conditional tense. All this in one sentence. Not everyone can do that. Draw me a diagram of that one. By the way, what does it mean? [assume smiley-face emoticon].

    Thanks again.


    1. novascout – So you don’t like the structure of my sentence? I accept the criticism. Thank you.

      Too much of what you have been saying is just verbal sparring. Here is the only comment where you actually said much of anything.

      This discussion has become pointless. About the only point you have gotten across is that you disagree. The mere fact you disagree is uninteresting. Why you disagree might be interesting. However, given your relatively informative comment followed what you apparently thought was a compliment, I suppose to some extent your reticence is my fault. I suppose I sometime respond too vigorously to disagreement. Nonetheless, I don’t bite.

      What is your focus? Why must so little of what you have to say have nothing to do with the subject this post?


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