Andrew Napolitano: Is the Constitution Just a Worthless Piece of Paper?
If the terms and meaning of the Constitution can be changed by the secret whims of those in the executive branch, of what value are they?
Last week, we learned how deep the disrespect for the Constitution runs in the federal government. In a little-noted speech at Washington and Lee Law School, Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and the NSA, revealed that somehow he received from some source he did not name the authority to reinterpret the Fourth Amendment's protection of privacy so as to obliterate it. He argued that the line between privacy and unbridled government surveillance is a flexible and movable one, and that he—as the head of the NSA—could move it.
This is an astounding audacity by a former high-ranking government official who swore numerous times to uphold the Constitution, writes Andrew Napolitano. He has claimed powers for himself that are nowhere in the Constitution or federal statues, powers that no president or Congress has claimed, powers that no Supreme Court decision has articulated, powers that are antithetical to the plain meaning and supremacy of the Constitution, powers that any non-secret judge anywhere would deny him. And if the terms and meaning of the Constitution can be changed by the secret whims of those in the executive branch, of what value are they? No value. In such a world, our Constitution has become a worthless piece of paper.