Jonah Goldberg

Nor is there anything in Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court case that famously established judicial review. Nor is there in Cooper v. Aaron, the 1958 case in which the court ruled that its findings are the law of the land.

George Washington vetoed an apportionment bill in 1792 because it was unconstitutional. What was he thinking? If only he had a Ben Adler around to tell him what a fool he was.

Andrew Jackson vetoed the reauthorization of the national bank in 1832 because he believed it was unconstitutional. He added at the time that, "It is as much the duty of the House of Representatives, of the Senate, and of the President to decide upon the constitutionality of any bill or resolution which may be presented to them for passage or approval as it is of the supreme judges when it may be brought before them for judicial decision."

"Even the Supreme Court has never claimed that it is the only branch with the power or duty to interpret the Constitution," says Jeff Sikkenga, a constitutional historian at Ashland University's Ashbrook Center. "In fact, it has said that certain constitutional questions like war and peace are left to the political branches to decide."

The debate over whether the courts are the final word on the Constitution is more than 200 years old. The debate over whether they are the sole arbiter of constitutionality is extremely recent and extremely silly.

But it's also necessary because too many politicians -- in both parties -- have abdicated their most solemn duty: to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. George W. Bush signed campaign finance reform even though he thought much of it was unconstitutional. Nancy Pelosi thinks the Constitution has as much relevance as a pet rock. When asked if the health-care bill was Constitutional, her perpetually wide-open eyes grew perceptibly wider as she incredulously asked, "Are you serious?"

The real issue is quite simple. If more politicians were faithful to the Constitution, the government would be restrained. And restraining government is "weird," "wacky" and "dangerous" to so many liberals today.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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