Lessons from Honduras for the Supreme Court

For those of you who haven’t been following the amazing events in Honduras, allow me to sum up.

President Zelaya befriends Hugo Chavez.  Zelaya picks up and likes the idea of extending his presidency beyond his one term limit.  One problem.  Constitution says even talking about it out loud causes any public figure to instantly lose his job for 10 years.   Including the president.   Zelaya says ‘screw the constitution’ and decides to hold a referendum on removing term limits.   The Supreme Court, not waiting for a lawsuit or otherwise sitting on their duffs, instantly rules such a referendum unconstitutional.   Zelaya changes the name to “survey” and prints up a bunch of ballots.  Where?  In Venezuela.   The SC rules a referendum by any name to be unconstitutional and warns Zelaya again.   Zelaya orders his top general to ignore the SC and prepare to distribute the ballots.  General goes to the SC for legal advice.  SC tells him to stand down, general complies.   Zelaya fires general for not complying with his orders.   SC orders general reinstated and has military seize the ballots.   Zelaya leads group of civilians to go and ‘liberate’ the ballots with full intention of holding ‘survey’.   SC warns Zelaya again.  He flips them the bird, says he’s going to do it no matter what.   SC, with full support from Zelaya’s party, the Catholic church, Congress and almost everyone else with a heart beat,  has him arrested and the general tosses in the insult of tossing him out of the country.  SC appoints the next in succession, from Zelaya’s own party, to the lead the country until previously scheduled elections in November.

Now, American socialist Democrats are FURIOUS that a Supreme Court would DARE to override the will of the people based on the Constitution (shades of 2000, anyone?).  Me?   I actually stood up and applauded while reading the story.   That is the proper use of judicial power, IN REAL TIME, not waiting 5 or 10 years for a lawsuit to filter up the chain.  They saw multiple unconstitutional abuses of power, swatted them down as they were happening and removed the offending public servant when he refused to cease his illegal behaviors.   That, my friends, is what we call huevos.  I’d go so far as to say huevos rancheros with a large helping of Tabasco.

Isn’t it time OUR Supreme Court stood up, called something unconstitutional without having to wait for years to look at the case?   “I’m sorry, you want to take the land from this poor person and give it to a developer?”   “Yes”   [sound of gavel] “Unconstitutional, next”.   It’s not terribly difficult.

One of the beautiful things about the Constitution of the United States is that it is far more clear than those seeking to unravel it will let you see.  You simply have to view the words as they viewed them.  In this case, it does matter what the meaning of the word “is” is, and it is what the founding fathers said it was, not what someone says it means today.

“Queer” used to mean ‘odd’ or ‘strange’ or ‘out of whack’ and “gay” used to mean ‘happy’ or ‘festive’.   But they now mean flaming hot Barney Frank homosexual.    Do I now have to use the modern use of this word when reading a 100+ year old novel?   Do I now have to rewrite the story in my head to believe that “the queer fellow with the gay wife” is actually a homosexual married to a lesbian, rather than an odd man with a happy wife?   I don’t believe anyone would suggest that I should.   Not even a liberal college professor.

So the Constitution means what it was meant to mean, not what someone 200 years later says it *ought* to mean.   And the Supreme Court needs to import some Central American huevos, strap them on and start calling a spade a spade.  Further, it needs to instruct Congress that an amendment is required *any time* that the Constitution is remotely unclear.  That the purpose of the Constitution is to enshrine freedoms and *protect* the individual from government.   That any time that Congress acts to empower themselves or diminish the rights of the individual, they are treading on very thin ice.   And that the court must act in favor of the people over the government in any matter lacking sufficient clarity.  Because only then can you preserve democracy and freedom.

These are the lessons from Honduras.  I would hope that a “wise Latina” especially would understand them.  It is time for our Supreme Court to stop act like an odd mixture of a secret debating society and a congressional rubber stamp.   The Supreme Court is supposed to keep Congress in check.  Not every once in awhile, but all the time.  Not 5 years after a bill is passed, but before or immediately after it is passed.  Is it too much to ask that the most powerful protectors of the Constitution finally step up and do something other than allow it to be destroyed?  I don’t think so.