Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Steller: Constitutionalists are anarchists

Tim Steller takes on "constitutionalist" justifications for lawlessness in today's Daily Star.

Tucson may be a 17-hour drive from the occupied federal buildings in southeastern Oregon, but the occupiers’ arguments sound like an echo from Arizona.

The federal government has overreached by so much, the argument goes, that it is behaving unconstitutionally, forcing us to act unilaterally to rein it in.

That’s what the armed men say who are occupying the offices of a remote national wildlife refuge in Oregon. They argue the federal government went too far in pursuing what they say are excessive sentences against two ranchers convicted of arson.

That’s also what our own state Rep. Mark Finchem, an Oro Valley Republican, says. A bill Finchem has introduced would prohibit the state from using any resources to support or implement unconstitutional presidential executive orders, federal policies or even U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Basically what Finchem and the Bundys are doing is setting themselves up as sole arbiters of what laws they will and will not obey - in essence electing themselves to be judges superior to the Supreme Court and every other branch of government. (By the way, criminals do the same thing.)

Yes, the Supreme Court is not really so supreme in the view of an increasingly prominent group of self-described “constitutionalists.” We all have an opinion, after all, and who’s to say the state’s view isn’t actually the correct one?

That’s the fundamental problem with the “constitutionalist” fever that has a hold on a good part of Arizona’s and America’s right wing. Their view devolves into an anarchical view that our country should operate based on cherry-picked constitutional principles interpreted by ad libbed authorities.

... These self-described constitutionalists all have their own ideas but ignore the obvious — we already have a judicial system that grapples with questions of constitutionality every day.

The courts are the home of the rule of law. Whether you’re in Oregon or Arizona, when those rulings go against you, it doesn’t give you the right to take up arms against the entire federal system or improvise your way out of it.

Maybe we can get the Bundy Bunch to occupy the Arizona legislature until we give them Arizona land. The good thing is that the wildlife in Oregon would be rid of the Bundys. And we would notice no change in the AZ legislature.

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