“That’s Unconstitutional!” Do We Care?

9 Nov

Walter Williams recently wrote a column titled “Our Deviant Society” that I thought was really good.  He gives several examples of presidential “lawlessness”, but I have included his closing remarks below.  You can see the entire column at


At the end of this essay, speaking about some of the unconstitutional actions this president has taken:

“Whether [or not] the president’s actions were good or bad ideas . . .is irrelevant. What’s relevant is whether we want to establish a precedent whereby a president, who has no constitutional authority to repeal parts of congressional legislation, can grant special favors and rule by presidential decree like Third World tyrants.

“I don’t hold President Obama completely responsible for his unconstitutional actions. It’s the American people who are to blame, for it is we who have lost our morality and our love, knowledge and respect for our Constitution, laying the foundation for Washington tyranny. It is all part and parcel of “defining deviancy down,” which is the term former U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined in 1993 to describe how we’ve switched from moral absolutes to situational morality and from strict constitutional interpretation to the Constitution’s being a “living document.” Constitutional principles that do not allow one American to live at the expense of another American are to be held in contempt. Today’s Americans have betrayed the values that made us a great nation, and that does not bode well for future generations.”

[End of excerpt]

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

I particularly love the phrase “defining deviancy down” attributed to Patrick Moynihan.  Isn’t it so true?  Couldn’t we each come up with a dozen (or more?) areas where this has occurred?  Not all change is bad, of course, but who cannot see that a slide toward moral relativity undermines the very traits that made this country great, powerful, prosperous, generous, and a symbol for freedom-loving people throughout the world?


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