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The Day the Constitution Died

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

On Saturday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the foremost thinker of the originalist and textualist judicial philosophy, died. It threw constitutional loyalists across the nation into mourning -- not just because Scalia was a brilliant expositor of the founding document, a great defender of the constitutional order, but also because with Scalia's death, Democrats are just one vote on the Court from destroying the Constitution wholesale.

Scalia believed that the Constitution ought to be applied as it was written -- it wasn't poetry, to be interpreted by the self-proclaimed moral superiors of the Supreme Court, but a legal document requiring specific legal interpretation. As Scalia said, "The Constitution says what it says, and it doesn't say anything more. ... Under the guise of interpreting the Constitution and under the banner of a living Constitution, judges, especially those on the Supreme Court, now wield an enormous amount of political power, because they don't just apply the rules that have been written, they create new rules."

With Scalia gone, the left will look to create a vast bevy of new rules designed to destroy constitutional freedoms. Scalia represented the fifth vote on gun rights, freedom of speech and freedom of religion; now, expect the Supreme Court to reinterpret the Second Amendment to allow full-scale gun confiscation, reinterpret freedom of speech to allow "hate speech" legislation and crackdowns on corporate political speech and reinterpret freedom of religion to allow a full-scale government cram down of anti-religious policy on religious individuals and institutions.

Even as conservatives lamented Scalia's death, Republicans held a debate on Saturday night. At that debate, Republican front-runner Donald Trump demonstrated that even among the Republican electorate, a significant percentage of Americans no longer care about Scalia-like Constitutional separation of powers. Trump is a bloviating loudmouth, a bullying spoiled rich kid who has never been told no. And he aims to govern like one. Put aside Trump's channeling of Michael Moore this week (he said that George W. Bush was responsible for 9/11 and lied to get America into the Iraq War). What's truly important is Trump's vision of governance.

For Trump, everything in life is about Trump. He says he likes Russian dictator Vladimir Putin because Putin "called me a genius, I like him so far, I have to tell you." He says he'll fix the economy personally: "I'm going to save Social Security. I'm going to bring jobs back from China. I'm going to bring back jobs from Mexico and from Japan ... Vietnam, that's the new one. ... I'm the only one who is going to save Social Security, believe me." Everything boils down to Trump fixing the world through the power of his persona.

None of which has any relationship to the Constitution. Scalia's death represents one threat to the future of checks and balances and limited government; Trump's rise as the leading candidate for a party that used to avoid strongmen in favor of those principles represents another type of threat. Both are potentially fatal to the future of the American idea.

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