The Constitution is not All

Got another one that got me in trouble.  I seem to do that a lot, don’t I?  Some crazy fundamentalist Christian libertarians started making a ruckus, claiming that because the Constitution doesn’t specifically grant the federal government the right to control marriage, the Supreme Court ruling is invalid and states get to decide who can get married and who cannot.

Yeah, I know, where do I find these idiots, right?

So I asked what if some state, hypothetically, decided to legalize child marriage, would that be fine?  Or, to answer another person, what if some state decided, theoretically, to legalize rape, would they be okay with it?  This is more applicable in the first question because, whether any of these people like it or not, marriage in the United States and indeed in most other places in the world is a civil contract.  It’s a legal, not a religious thing.  In the United States, what is legal and binding in one state, marriage-wise, is legal and binding in all states.  If someone got married in one state where said marriage is legal and moved to another state where said marriage was not legal, they would still have a legal marriage.  This has already been well-decided, there are no legal questions on this matter whatsoever.  So, just as gay couples went to states where gay marriage was legal, then went home to states where it was not and had to be treated like they were legally married, a couple could go to a state where child marriage was legal, then come back and move in next door to you.  Is that acceptable?

Not surprisingly, not a single one of my fundie Christian libertarians thought it was.  I guess state’s rights only work when it’s something you agree with, huh?  In fact, you can go wherever you want with this.  What if Utah, for example, decided to reintroduce polygamy.  Good, even if that means that all states are now effectively forced to accept polygamous couples?  Or what if some state gets taken over by fundamentalist Muslims who want to impose Sharia law and execute heretics?  Is that okay?  The Constitution actually forbids Congress from passing any law stopping it.  How many people do you think would follow a strict constitutional interpretation?  Not many, I wager.

The problem with these strict constitutionalists is that they don’t recognize that it just doesn’t work.  There are lots of things in the modern world that the founding fathers could never have imagined or foreseen.  The Constitution doesn’t mention a thing about speed limits on the nation’s highways, yet the federal government can issue a national speed limit, whether the libertarians like it or not.  The founding fathers had no way of knowing that cars would eventually exist.  They didn’t know about airplanes, but the federal  government controls the nation’s skies and controls where people are allowed to fly. They didn’t know about nuclear weapons, but if they had, they would absolutely have written into the 2nd amendment a limitation on private citizens owning them, no matter what the libertarians seem to think.  But they didn’t know so they didn’t include them.  The list goes on and on.  The farther we go, the less applicable the specifics in the Constitution actually are.  A lot of the concepts remain good ideas, but how they specifically apply to the modern world does not.  That’s why we have the Supreme Court, to make these determinations.  I’m pretty sure that if the founding fathers were around today, they’d be ashamed of what we’ve become and perhaps ashamed of no group more than the libertarians whose absurd worship of a piece of paper has stopped them from thinking for themselves.

But what can you expect from a group of people, like the ones in this particular example, who worship both the Constitution and the Bible and don’t stop to think about either?

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