Ken Blackwell

Note: This column was coauthored by Ken Klukowski, a columnist

Public officials and pundits are still digesting the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision in NFIB v. Sebelius. Not yet discussed are the extraordinary implications for the size and role of government in a second Obama term in light of President Obama’s new stump speech, as it is clear there is not a reliable majority on the Court to restrain government power by enforcing the limits imposed by the Constitution.

Most provisions in the Constitution fall into two categories. The first are authority provisions, explaining the structure and powers of government. The second are liberty provisions, declaring certain rights of the people.

The original Constitution had only the former, because the latter were regarded as superfluous. If something was not found in a specific authority clause, it was automatically illegal and beyond the purview of the federal government. Political backlash from the Anti-Federalists and others led to some states threatening to withhold ratification unless a Bill of Rights was promptly added. Likely our fourth president James Madison would have lost his first congressional race to our fifth president James Monroe had Mr. Madison not joined Mr. Monroe’s call to add the Bill of Rights to the nascent Supreme Law.

Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of our Constitution is that it is a written document. It is written so that all can see what the powers of the national government are, and guaranteeing in the Tenth Amendment that all powers not specifically granted to the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people. This doctrine of enumerated powers is the cornerstone of our constitutional order and the federal system.

We wrote in our second book that if President Obama won a second term, Americans’ liberties would only be as secure as the courts were faithful to properly exercise their power of judicial review to invalidate actions that violate the Constitution. Whether invalidating unconstitutional legislation passed by Congress or unconstitutional executive actions, the courts must not flinch when cases are properly brought to them.

Mr. Madison explained that “ambition must be made to counteract ambition” for checks and balances to work. Each branch must boldly discharge its constitutional duty. Part of the tragedy of the Obamacare decision is realizing that the current membership of the Supreme Court will not exercise robust judicial review.

Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
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