So often lately we hear from some people associated with the Tea Party movement that they want to “take back our country.”
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, recently announced that she has founded a new non-profit – Liberty Central.
Liberty Central’s press release says:”It is no coincidence that 223 years ago today, on May 25, 1787, state delegates gathered in Philadelphia to participate in the Constitutional Convention. For the next three months, the delegates debated ideas, circulated different drafts, and ultimately crafted the most exceptional system of representative government ever created – a system that is enshrined in our United States Constitution.”
Liberty Central’s website says it is dedicated to “protecting the core founding principles of the nation.”
Which leads one to ask: Just exactly what are the “core founding principles” of our nation?
Our founding fathers did not agree on “core” principles so they held the Constitutional Convention to debate them. Some colonial leaders insisted on state rights which caused the Tenth Amendment to be added to the Bill of Rights while others believed in a strong central government role for our nation.
From the beginning, our founding fathers believed in absolutely no role whatsoever for people of African descent. In 1857, following “core” founding principles, the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision held that people of African descent were not protected by the constitution and they could never be U.S. citizens.
It took many bloody civil war battles between the states and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to deliver constitutional freedom from slavery, and establish citizenship and the right for black men to vote.
It is ironic that if Liberty Central’s agenda of “core founding principles” had been adhered to and not overruled by Congress utilizing a strong central government role, Ginni Thomas’s husband would never have been allowed to vote or become a Supreme Court justice.
Ginni Thomas needs to have a fundamental civics lesson.
Although there were no inter-racial marriage colonial laws, inter-racial marriage was frowned upon with contempt by our founding father’s society and seen as a “sin.” Later, individual states enacted criminal laws against inter-racial marriages.
Consequently, if “core” principles were adhered to, it is unlikely Ginni Thomas would have had the freedom to marry her husband because it was not until 1967 that the Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s “Racial Integrity Act.”
During colonial times women had very limited choices.
Some women were allowed to earn a living performing domestic jobs such as working as seamstresses or managing boardinghouses. If we were to return to “core” founding principles as Liberty Central contemplates, women would still be treated as chattel and deemed suitable for child-bearing or marriage.
In 1874, the U.S. Supreme Court in Myner v. Happerstett determined that being a women citizen did not give women the right to vote. It took 46 more years and the Nineteenth Amendment to finally give women the right to vote – again, not one of our “core” founding principles.
If our nation were to return to “core” founding principles today, we would no longer have an issue with gay and lesbian rights. We also would not have reproductive choice. There was no recognized right for women to use contraceptives until 1965 when the Supreme Court, applying a fundamental right of privacy, struck down a law criminalizing the use of contraceptives.
What Liberty Central implicitly advocates is an agenda to role back our nation’s hard won constitutional protections. We cannot let this happen. Our nation has developed into a much stronger nation because of its inclusiveness of individual constitutional rights based on liberty, freedom and justice for all.
Tracy Emblem is an attorney in Escondido.