What Happened to 'We, the People'?
Americans have become increasingly disheartened at the way controversial social policies have been decided by executive, judicial or administrative fiat, without so much as a vote by their elected representatives (state or federal). And, in many of these cases, these actions effectively overturn state laws and policies. States that resist are threatened with loss of federal funding, if they don't comply.
It's easy to see how some people feel disenfranchised, cheated, frustrated, and left asking: "How is this happening? What about, 'We, the People'?"
Big government is one reason. There are bureaucracies, executives and courts that have become so powerful they routinely ignore the people's voice represented in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures. Essentially, they are becoming lawmakers unto themselves.
Consider these seven examples:
- The U.S. Supreme Court redefines marriage and overrules the previous definitions of one man, one women marriage in almost every state in the country. The votes of millions of Americans in favor of state laws and constitutional amendments defining marriage, as it has been defined for millennia, were nullified by a vote of 5 to 4 at the high court.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, misusing its authority granted under ObamaCare to define "preventive" care for insurance policies, orders most employers, including religious ones, to provide contraceptives – including possible abortion-causing drugs – to their employees.
- The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education send a joint warning to every school district in the country, instructing them to allow gender-confused boys and girls to use the restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities of their choice. If schools object and don't comply, they risk losing billions in federal education funding.
- President Obama issues an Executive Order denying any religious organization contracting with the federal government – such as those providing worship and counseling-related services for our troops, for example – the right to hire people of like faith. In other words, the religious organizations are forced to hire employees that do not adhere to their statement of faith or conduct.
- A Governor, working actively with a state pharmacy board, as well as abortion-advocacy groups, created statewide pharmacy regulations whose "predominant purpose," a federal judge held, was to "stamp out [a pharmacist's] right to refuse" to stock and dispense possible abortion-causing contraceptives based on religious conscience.
- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) declares that the definition of "sex discrimination" under federal employment non-discrimination law now includes "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." This despite the fact that Congress has refused to amend the law in this way. The EEOC is now using the courts to attempt to "amend" the federal law by judicial fiat.
- The Internal Revenue Service uses its power to delay, frustrate and harass religious and conservative organizations applying for tax exemptions.
What do all these examples have in common? No legislative body was involved; yet major changes to the law were simply instituted and enforced in ways that caused serious repercussions.
States Go on Defense, Offense
The good news is some of these issues are being addressed!
Many states are stepping up in an important way to protect citizens from the threats posed by an overreaching federal government. In fact, some states legislatures are also going on the offense to protect citizens from possible future actions by their own state governments. From religious freedom and rights of conscience to the issue of privacy and safety in bathrooms, state legislatures are pushing ahead with pro-family, pro-religious freedom legislation on behalf of their citizens. In many cases these new state laws pit the states against the power and resources of the federal government.
Consider just a few of these new laws:
The "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act" offers broad protections to clergy, religious organizations, wedding vendors, faith-based adoption agencies and county clerks based on their beliefs about marriage and the definition of "male" and "female."
A new statewide law requires men and women to use the restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities in government-owned facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. The federal government responded by threatening to withhold billions of dollars in federal education funding.
A new law removes the need for county clerks to sign marriage licenses, providing an accommodation that allows county clerks like Kim Davis to perform their official functions without being forced to compromise their conscience.
A new law in Kansas forbids public colleges and universities from compelling student religious organizations to accept members or leaders who don't share the group's core beliefs.
In short, there is a lot happening at the state level that should serve as an encouragement to Christians, in particular, and freedom-loving Americans, in general. Our government "of the people, by the people, and for the people," has not "perished from the earth."
For a round-up of what states have been doing recently to counter these big-government infringements of our rights and freedoms, please see the next article in this series.