The Conservative Choice

A high-school classmate of my wife’s, when told about my candidacy, said, “Why would I vote for a liberal?”

She knows little about my politics, but this is a person who fancies herself a conservative (obviously) and anyone who disagrees with her a liberal. But what does her conservatism mean?

She has a “Legalize the Constitution” bumper sticker on the back of her car, which is a conservative principle that I wholeheartedly adopt.

The tendency of the Court of Criminal Appeals in the last fifteen years has been toward results-oriented jurisprudence: deciding what result the voters would desire (“the government wins”) and then writing the law to reach that result (one example) at the constitutions’ expense. There is nothing conservative about results-oriented jurisprudence. It’s not judicially conservative, and it’s not socially conservative. It may appeal to “conservative” voters, though, whose idea of conservatism is “whatever the majority that I belong to wants.”

I am often critical of the Texas Legislature:

This is not the first time that the Texas Legislature has incompetently written a penal statute. It won’t be the last time. Texas legislators are, after all, mostly products of Texas’s public education system, and most of them were highly stupid to begin with. When the Texas Legislature manages to get it right, it’s the exception rather than the rule. Sometimes it even passes statutes intending to do one thing but doing the exact opposite.

But if elected I will follow the law as the people’s generally cretinous elected representatives in Austin have written it, except for this: if the law (or other government action) violates either the U.S. Constitution or the Texas Constitution of 1876, I will strike it down.

Returning meaning to the US and Texas Constitutions is the most conservative of actions. We can only return meaning to these laws by strictly enforcing them against the government officials who would break them.

For the most part Texas courts have, where there is a related provision in the US Constitution, blown off the Texas Constitution and decided the matter based on the U.S. Constitution. But the Texas Constitution may restrict government action more than the US Constitution. Instead of lazily interpreting its provisions with reference to decisions of the east-coast Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must set about determining how Texans of 1876 would have felt about the action the government is trying to justify, and then use that information to apply the constitution that those Texans adopted to the question before them.

It’s long past time to legalize the Texas Constitution. There’s nothing “liberal” about it.

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