Your turn — Decisions based on Constitution, not what is popular

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The last two weeks have produced court rulings that have pleased some and offended others. Currently, we are in such a politicized world that too many believe decisions of all governments should be based on what is the most popular opinion of the public. This mindset, mixed with news media’s ability to drive issues and public opinion, makes things much more volatile than is acceptable.

CONSTITUTION BACKGROUND

When our Constitution was ratified by the states, the House of Representatives was the only branch of the federal government that was directly selected by the voters. At that time, the general assemblies of the states chose the senate. This was partially to allow state governments some say in the decisions made in Washington and partially with longer terms to allow decisions to be made more deliberately.

The court system was established with lifetime appointments to insulate them from the politics of the moment. The last thing our nation needs is to have justices make decisions based on what is most popular (or the loudest) but rather by the Constitution. This past week gives us examples as to why our founders were correct.

ABORTION RIGHTS

Fifty years ago, each state was deciding how to deal with a political issue – abortion. In 1973, the court made the decision to opine in a case based on reasoning so weak that even Justice Ruth Ginsburg, a supporter of abortion rights, later called it questionable. Since then, U.S. Senate confirmation hearings have included questioning which could easily be considered a “shot across the bow,” indicating they wanted no changes. This court reversed that based on the Constitution.

The rioting and destruction of church and private property recently is disappointing. It is sad that we cannot have a civil debate on issues.

Damage in our state is interesting because Virginia’s current law allows abortions into the seventh month of pregnancy, longer than California and New York. The demonstrators do not appear to understand this reality. Planned Parenthood and others are investigating how they can make Virginia a mecca for abortion seekers.

GUN ISSUES

Some have tried to twist Second Amendment rights to mean something other than the words written. Some think it is only for militias. Others believe it deals with hunting rights. It was neither. When drafted, we had just fought a war for independence from England. There was concern that enemies from without or monarch wannabes from within could be a danger to our young nation.

Some states have decided they are smarter than their citizens. They believe government knows what is best. In Washington D.C., the city government prevented citizens from legally owning guns for their own protection. A decade ago, the Supreme Court opined that citizens do have a right to own a gun to protect their family.

This month, the Supreme Court ruled that a New York law making it all but impossible to obtain a permit to carry their gun was unconstitutional. In response, New York’s governor and President Biden questioned the court’s conclusion.

The governor and President publicly condemned this decision while they have been almost silent on the obscene increase of violent crimes in so many of our cities and communities. The Second Amendment was concerned about our democracy. We should continue to do so and be able to protect our loved ones, no matter if locked in the house or traveling to the store.

PRAYERS

Somewhere along the path of our nation, someone decided that we should not allow prayers or the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools. On the issue of the Pledge of Allegiance in Virginia, I offered legislation that would allow schools to allow students to say the pledge. At the time, the Democrats controlled the General Assembly. They killed my bill saying it was unconstitutional. One year later, they offered the exact same bill, and both passed.

One of the cases before the Supreme Court dealt with a coach who voluntarily prayed with his team if they wanted to do so. The school administration rejected the right of those prayers to take place on school property. The court overruled the school’s administration. They deemed that the administration was wrong in firing the coach. They ruled that a voluntary prayer was not forbidden simply because it was held on public property.

Thankfully, this court understands its role.

FRANK RUFF JR. serves as the 15th District senator in Virginia. He can be reached at Sen. Ruff@verizon.net, (434) 374-5129 or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.