Washington expands its power in the name of the Constitution 

I broke out my copy of the Constitution last night, the pocket-size edition I carry around — the better to school liberals who like to read things into it that aren’t there.

Like, for example, a “woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.”

I teach a writing course at Johns Hopkins University. Almost every semester, one or more of the women in the class will write some nonsense about a “woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.”

There is no such explicit passage. The Ninth Amendment reads, “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

That could refer to a “woman’s right to an abortion,” but not her constitutional right. What the Ninth Amendment means is implied by the one that follows it, the much-maligned, often-misused and tragically misunderstood 10th Amendment:

“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.”

On Jan. 22, 1973, seven Supreme Court justices, presuming to act as a super-legislature with powers exceeding Congress and 50 state legislatures, struck down every law outlawing abortion. The Constitution has been on a downhill slide ever since:

- Within the past month, a federal judge ruled a Mississippi high school girl had a constitutional right to bring her lesbian date to her senior prom.
- A “woman’s constitutional right to an abortion” has expanded to include a “poor woman’s constitutional right to a publicly funded abortion.”
- The “constitutional right of a woman to have an abortion” and the “constitutional right of a poor woman to have a publicly funded abortion” expanded to include “a girl’s constitutional right to have an abortion without her parents’ knowledge or consent.”

Then came the health care bill, when Congress ordered every American to buy health insurance.

The Constitution was written to not only enumerate the powers of the federal government, but also to enumerate its limitations.

And no, it doesn’t matter that this involves making health care accessible to those who don’t have it, which few would argue is bad. But a federal government that expands its power for something good will, inevitably, use that power for something bad.

Republicans challenging the health care bill understand this. Few Democrats do, and voters, I fear, understand it even less.
So last night, I closed my pocket-size copy of the Constitution and quietly kissed it goodbye.

Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to Sudan.

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Gregory Kane

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Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is an award-winning journalist who lives in Baltimore.

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