If you use social media at all, I’m sure you’ve seen the numerous posts of people rejoicing that the mask requirement for airlines has been lifted as result of a federal judge in Florida declaring the mandate unconstitutional. I’ve seen videos of people cheering on airlines, emotional flight attendants, and a litany of other reactions (negative and positive). These responses and this online discussions about the mandates, the Constitutionality of them etc caused me to think about these mandates and unconstitutional behavior from a slightly different perspective. So, I’m here to share it with you in this article.
In writing about the twenty-eight amendments, it’s interesting to see how certain government behaviors (and in rare circumstances, citizen behaviors) go from being fully legal and Constitutional to unconstitutional OR fully illegal and unconstitutional to Constitutional. Whatever the government was doing is now completely redefined based on an actual change in the Constitution itself.
So, what struck me about all the reactions to the travel mask mandate being lifted was the fact that everyone responded to it as if it was a new amendment to the Constitution. Suddenly something that was Constitutional isn’t anymore.
But that’s the thing about this type of ruling or any other that declares government behavior unconstitutional. Declaring government behavior unconstitutional does not mean that it suddenly becomes unconstitutional after the Court declares it so. A court declaring government action unconstitutional doesn’t make the action unconstitutional–it simply establishes that it already was unconstitutional. Get that?
It wasn’t Constitutional before and suddenly the Constitution changed and it’s no longer Constitutional.
No. When the Court or courts declare federal behavior unconstitutional, that means the behavior was always unconstitutional. It was as unconstitutional before the ruling as it was after the ruling. The internment of Japanese Americans by the federal government was unconstitutional regardless of whether the Court ever acknowledged that or not. The point being, unconstitutional behavior is unconstitutional no matter the Court’s recognition. Further, if or when the Court does recognize said government action as unconstitutional, it’s not establishing that it was Constitutional all along and now isn’t anymore, it’s establishing that it was unconstitutional all along.
This simple understanding of the Constitution and unconstitutional government behavior should be enough to motivate all Americans to fight to understand every detail of the Constitution. We must know the Constitution, our government’s job description, so well and so intimately that we don’t have to wait on a judge or Justice to step in on our behalf. We should be crying foul long before the courts have to step in–and hopefully, our fuss will cause the courts to take a look.
Of course, the kink in this whole system is this. Sometimes the courts rule that unconstitutional government behavior is Constitutional, giving themselves and the rest of government more power, when the government action is in fact, very unconstitutional. The internment of Japanese Americans acting as a prime example. Just because the Court upheld or approved of Japanese American’s internment does not mean that their internment was Constitutional.
There’s some natural interpretation that needs to be done from time to time, but the Constitution alone is enough for most Americans, with a basic knowledge of the enumerated powers of government, to be able uphold and defend the Constitution in ways we’ve never considered we could.
It’s about time we stop waiting around the courts and start acting as the employers we are because right now our government engages in unconstitutional behavior daily and we let it go because the courts haven’t declared it so.
The Liberty Belle