Is Social Justice Compatible with our Constitution?

Posted on July 7, 2011


The Myth

Social justice is entirely compatible with our Constitution. It does not violate any provision or principle of the Constitution.

The Truth

Social justice is based on fundamental set of philosophies that is the direct opposite of the fundamental sets of philosophies our Constitution is based on. These two sets of philosophies are in no way compatible. Social justice not only directly violates the fundamental philosophies our Constitution is based on it also violates many provisions of the Constitution.

The Facts

There are many different variations of social justice. The particular variation that is practiced by modern American progressives is, at its very foundation, based on principles originating from the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Incorporated into this particular variation of social justice are many components that have their roots in the writings of Karl Marx. This is the version of social justice I will be discussing in this article,

 Social Justice is based entirely on a set of arbitrary principles that places a strong central national government above all else. There is no higher power then the national government. Whatever the central government determines to be in the best interest of the people as a whole becomes the law of the land and the people have a moral duty and a legal obligation to obey. Usually these government decisions are made by an “enlightened” few and are based on a belief that these few are better at deciding what is better for the people then the people themselves.

 According to the philosophy of social justice, rights are granted by the government. This governing body can vary from the government of an entire nation to a group of self-appointed “elites” that take charge of some subset of the society such as a race, union, or even a religion. For this article I will use the generic term government and focus on how rights are granted by a central government to members of an entire nation. What these rights are depends solely on the current mood of the government. The government can grant the people a certain right then later decide the people no longer possess that right.

 Collective rights are a cornerstone of social justice. Rights are collectively granted to an entire group rather than the individual members of a group. The government can grant certain groups rights while granting other groups different rights or no rights at all. The rights individuals are granted are based on what group or groups the individuals belong to.  In order to maintain their rights the group has to behave according to standards set by the government. In order to maintain membership in the group the individuals have to behave according to standards set for it. If too many members of the group do not behave according to standards set for it the entire group can lose the rights granted to it by the government. This provides incentive for the members of the group to make sure the individual members behave according to government approved standards. This can lead to a tribal or mob mentality amongst the members of the different groups where good behavior is sometimes maintained by any means necessary. The rights of the group often greatly outweigh the rights of the individuals that make up the group resulting in individuals possessing little or no rights themselves.

 Individual ownership of property and wealth in a society governed by the philosophy of social justice is rare. Property and wealth are most often shared collectively by the members of a group. Ownership of wealth and property by groups is not secure either in social justice society. Governments often declare that one group often has the right to seize the wealth and property of another group. This is often done to purchase the political loyalty of a larger group at the expense of a smaller group. Propaganda is often used to cloak this theft in flowery phrases such shared sacrifice, spreading the wealth, paying ones fair share, or easing the suffering of those in need. 

 Wealth is most often confiscated from a group the government declares to be wealthy. Propaganda is often used to paint these individuals in a negative light. They are often labeled fat cats or described as greedy. It is implied that they do not earn their wealth, or they earn it on the backs of the poor. A progressive income tax is used to seize the wealth from those the government has deemed have too much. An arbitrary standard is used to determine what income level constitutes too much wealth. Arbitrary standards are use to set tax rates on different income levels with the highest rates placed on the wealthiest. There have been times since the progressive income tax was instituted in 1913 with the ratification of the 16th amendment that the tax rate on the wealthy has been as high as 90 percent.

 The seized wealth is then given out to those the government has deemed have too little in the form of welfare, free government health care, social security, subsidized housing, food stamps, earned income credits, and other entitlements. An arbitrary standard is used to determine who are in need. This standard is only partially based on actual suffering and real need. Political considerations often play a key role when determining who gets their wealth confiscated and who receives this wealth. Class warfare and propaganda is used to generate a belief that those who earn less are entitled to the wealth of those that earn more. This propaganda hammers home the message that government provided income, housing, healthcare, and education are all rights that the federal government must provide for all that feel they need them.

Justice is applied unequally and arbitrarily in a society governed by social justice principles. One of the main reasons this is done is as an atonement for past wrongs committed against a group even though these wrongs occurred more than a century ago. Different minority groups get different treatment in courts of law as well as by those who write the laws. The group that gets the best treatment by the legislative and judicial branches are members of the government. They are not often subject to the laws they pass and when caught breaking the law they receive special treatment.

 The nanny state is another major component of social justice. Governments that have embraced social justice feel they are better a making decisions than ordinary citizens or private sector business. Laws and regulations are used to control just about every aspect of life for citizens and businesses.

 Massive amounts of government are needed to implement the different components of social justice. That amount of government is expensive and requires large amounts of taxes to support it. The wealthy are most often the primary funding source for this massive amount government. They usually bear a very large share of the cost of the social programs that make up social justice along with a very large share of the cost of government needed to implement social justice.

 There is nothing in the body of the US Constitution or the Bill of Rights that prevents the States from enacting these different components of social justice. There is some debate whether or not the equal protection clause of 14th Amendment prevents the States from enacting some of the provisions of social justice but that has not been tested in the courts yet. According to the original intent of the framers of the Constitution the State level is the proper level to experiment with some or all of the components of social justice, Many States have in fact enacted social justice to varying degrees. From this experimentation it is evident that social justice does not work. Those States that have enacted social justice the most are on the verge of collapse financially. The wealthy flee those States for those that so not embrace social justice. Because of this the State governments do not collect enough money to support social justice. Because of the heavy tax burdens and large amounts of regulations business flee taking jobs along with them.

 For nearly 100 years the federal government has been incorporating an ever-increasing amount of social justice into legislation and government programs. The current administration is in the process of incorporating the entire suite of social justice policies through legislation and unconstitutional executive department usurpations of power. The federal government can in no way practice social justice without violating many fundamental principles of the Constitution along with many individual provisions.

 Our Constitution is based on fundamental philosophy called Natural Law. This philosophy is embodied in the Declaration of Independence, which our founding fathers strongly believed is inseparable from the Constitution. According to Natural Law, each and every individual is granted their rights directly by God. Because each and every individual is granted their rights  by God every individual is granted the same equal rights. Life, liberty, and the ability to acquire property and wealth and use it as you wish are primary God-given Natural Rights. The last two of these rights are directly violated by social justice.

 Liberty is the freedom to use all of our God-given Natural Rights as we wish as long as we do not harm others or interfere with the rights of others. As long as we do not interfere with the rights of others or harm others the federal government must leave us alone. If you harm others or interfere with their rights the government has an obligation to stop you and if necessary punish you. This is done through a formal legal system.

 According to Natural Law individuals have the freedom to accumulate wealth and property and use it as they wish as long as they do not harm others or interfere with the rights of others when they accumulate and use their property. Individuals do have a moral obligation to pay taxes to the federal government but only for those things the federal government has a constitutional obligation to provide. Article 1 Section 8 Clause 1 of the Constitution states the congress has the power to collect various forms of taxes to pay debts and provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the entire United States. General welfare has a specific constitutional meaning that was understood by those that wrote the Constitution and ratified it. This phrase specifically means a general state of wellbeing for the entire country not entitlement payments to individuals. That power was left in the hands of the States. The following clauses of this  section specifically list all instances where congress has the power to spend the taxes collected. None of the components of social justice are authorized by these clauses. 

 Federalism is one of the most important constitutional principles. The Constitution created a federal government that is only limited to those powers spelled out in Article 1 Sectional 8. The States are denied certain powers in Article 1 Section 10. According to the principle of federalism all powers that are not specifically granted to the federal government in Section 8 or denied to the States in Section 10 are left with the States or individuals. During the ratification debates, delegates from several States felt that federalism was not spelled out strong enough in the Constitution so the 10th Amendment was added to make this principle abundantly clear. In the federal government’s continued attempts to implement social justice it has transferred vast amounts of powers from the States and individuals to itself. This violates the principle of federalism and the 10th Amendment.

 The US Congress is the only branch of the Government that has the power to write and pass laws. This is clearly stated in Article 1 Section 1 of the Constitution. For laws to be legally binding they must be passed through the formal legal process. This is defined in Article 1 Section 7 of the Constitution. Executive orders and the massive amounts of regulations issued by executive branch departments, both have been used by presidents since Woodrow Wilson to bypass congress and implement social justice policies. Thus violating those two provisions of the Constitution.

 By implementing all of these provisions at the federal level the federal government has made it very difficult for individuals and business to earn profits. When individuals and companies cannot earn profits they do not hire. When the wealthiest and most productive individuals have more than half of their income taxed away to fund social justice programs they do not hire at anywhere near the levels needed to sustain economic growth so the country as a whole suffers.

 The rule of law is a cornerstone of our legal system. Everyone is treated the same under the rule of law. No one is above the law especially our elected officials, No one is allowed to receive special treatment under the rule of law. All laws must be passed by the formal legislative process and must be clearly written and not so large that they cannot be easily read. Social justice violates all of these provisions of the rule of law. The complexity and size of the 2700 pace ObamaCare law violates the rule of law.

 Social Justice violates other fundamental principles of the Constitution and provisions of the Constitution. I will be discussing those in a future article.

The Proof

An excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

The preamble of the Constitution which ties the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence together through Natural Law

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The 10th Amendment

Rights of the States under Constitution

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Here is a link to Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution

Here is a link to Article 1 Section 10 of the Constitution

James Madison — Federalist 45 discussing federalism

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State

James Madison Federalist 41—general welfare clause and enumerated powers

It has been urged and echoed, that the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction. Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms “to raise money for the general welfare.

”But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars.

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