There is a classic scene from Seinfeld where Jerry shows up to a car rental place and tells them he has a reservation. They say they ran out of cars. He says: “But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation!” The haughty lady behind the counter says: “I know why we have reservations.” Jerry responds: “I don’t think you do. Because if you did, I’d have a car.”
It was hard not to think of this scene today as I watched the video of Ted Cruz cross examining Dianne Feinstein about her assault weapons ban.
CRUZ: Let me explain the Constitution to you, Senator Feinstein. Among its other functions, the Constitution preserves the individual rights of the American people.
FEINSTEIN: I know why we have the Constitution, Senator Cruz.
CRUZ: I don’t think you do. Because if you did, you wouldn’t be proposing this ban.
[Studio audience laughs uproariously. Exeunt alles.]
Folks like Andrea Mitchell might watch this and declare DiFi the Winner Totally Awesome No Takebacks, but the California senator is clearly unmatched in discussing Constitutional law with Cruz. That’s why she makes such a production out of huffing and puffing about her experience and all the dead bodies she has seen and the like — because she knows if Cruz starts to debate her on the actual standards that apply, she’ll be as lost as Obama without a TelePrompTer.
With the help of her colleagues, DiFi finally stumbled and stammered their way into arguing: why, all Constitutional rights are limited! Yes, they are, but that doesn’t mean any regulation is A-OK. The issue is whether the conduct that Congress seeks to prohibit is the type of conduct that Americans would have understood to be covered when the Bill of Rights was passed. We declare certain speech outside the purview of the First Amendment, for example, because such speech (child porn, e.g.) does not serve the purpose of the First Amendment.
That doesn’t mean all new technology falls outside the Bill of Rights; the issue (expressed imprecisely) is whether conduct made possible by new technology serves the purpose of the Amendment that protects our rights. The First Amendment covers awesome methods of communication that the Founders could not have imagined, like the Internet.
Similarly, when it comes to new weapons technology, the issue is whether it fits within the purpose of the Second Amendment. Possession of a nuclear bomb does not in my judgment qualify as something the Founders would have found protected by the Second Amendment. Possession of assault weapons, in my view, would be — even though they weren’t yet invented. Why are assault weapons anything but a more effective method of carrying out the objectives of the Second Amendment?
This is the debate we should be having, but DiFi’s attitude appears to be that Constitutional law is for judges. We’ll pass what we want, because we have seen a lot of bodies and whatnot, and we’ll leave the yapping about the Constitution to the nerds in the black robes. Isn’t that what she’s saying?
Love that Ted Cruz. Keep getting under their skin, buddy.