Editor's note: This column was co-authored by Ken Klukowski
Time magazine’s cover story shows the U.S. Constitution and asks, “Does it still matter?” Reading this story, we kept waiting for Emmanuel Goldstein to show up for the Two Minutes of Hate. It was difficult to discern whether we were reading Time, or Orwells’ 1984.
It portrays the Constitution as an outmoded document that we should ignore to whatever extent is expedient to pursue someone’s vision of a better society: “We cannot let the Constitution become an obstacle to a future with a sensible health care system, a globalized economy, and evolving sense of civil and political rights.”
The story shows all sorts of poll questions that present a false choice, such as, “The 14th Amendment says that any person born in the U.S. automatically becomes a U.S. citizen… Should [it] be revised?” The Citizenship Clause says no such thing, because it adds that anyone “not subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. is not a citizen.
That’s why children of foreign ambassadors, prisoner soldiers and heads of state born here do not become citizens. The question is how broad that “jurisdiction” clause is. Could Congress exclude illegal aliens? It’s an active debate in legal circles, with no clear answer.
Instead, the questions should have included: “Are you more interested in the Constitution today that you were four years ago?” “Do you agree or disagree with candidates discussing the Constitution more in their campaign speeches this year?” “Are you now aware that the Constitution only vests the federal government with power of specific areas of life, leaving the states sovereign to decide all other issues?”
Or questions on enduring constitutional principles. “Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s 1803 pronouncement that any law contrary to the Constitution is null and void?” “Every government officer (including every judge) takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Should they apply its original meaning to current challenges?”
Does the Constitution still matter? Look at huge crowds of Americans cheering at rallies, whether it’s a spending protest or a pro-life rally. It matters to them, and they vote.