Chief Justice John Marshall’s guide to combating the lies of the left
President Biden delivered a speech (transcript here), allegedly on voting rights, in Philadelphia, July 13 -- but the speech was, in truth, a call for the partisan weaponizing of the right to vote.
To appreciate the falsity of Biden's July 13 remarks, herewith is an analysis by way of the last paragraph of Chief Justice John Marshall's opinion in the 1824 Supreme Court case of Gibbons v. Ogden, holding that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution bars state interference with traffic on the (interstate) Hudson River. Here is the text of the full opinion. But focus on the opinion's concluding paragraph:
Powerful and ingenious minds, taking, as postulates, that the powers expressly granted to the government of the Union, are to be contracted by construction, into the narrowest possible compass, and that the original powers of the States are retained, if any possible construction will retain them, may, by a course of well digested, but refined and metaphysical reasoning, founded on these premises, explain away the constitution of our country, and leave it, a magnificent structure, indeed, to look at, but totally unfit for use. They may so entangle and perplex the understanding, as to obscure principles, which were before thought quite plain, and induce doubts where, if the mind were to pursue its own course, none would be perceived. In such a case, it is peculiarly necessary to recur to safe and fundamental principles to sustain those principles, and when sustained, to make them the tests of the arguments to be examined.
This explanatory (and concluding) paragraph in the Gibbons v. Ogden case suggests that clever people may, by sophistry, "so entangle and perplex the understanding, as to obscure principles, which were before thought quite plain, and induce doubts where, if the mind were to pursue its own course, none would be perceived." To this writer's understanding, what Chief Justice Marshall advises is this: When faced with a clever, but specious, argument, apply a good dose of common sense.
Chief Justice John Marshall in 1832
Painting by Henry Inman
Just consider President Biden's assertion -- echoed by the media -- that Republican state legislatures are using voting legislation to impose Jim Crow restrictions on likely Democrat voters. Biden put it this way in his Philadelphia false statement:
"The 21st century Jim Crow assault is real. It's unrelenting, and we're going to challenge it vigorously."
The reality is the obverse. There is no "Jim Crow assault" on any voter today. Biden blithely ignores the purpose of "Jim Crow" laws -- to prevent blacks from voting in southern states. The stratagems covered by the term "Jim Crow" included the poll tax and literacy tests.
What Republican state legislature, today, proposes a literacy test or poll tax for a citizen to qualify as a voter? None, of course.
At one point in his speech, Biden asserted "The Big Lie is just that: a big lie." This taunt, directed at Republicans, informs the speaker's own remarks, from July 13. For example, at one point in his speech, Biden said:
There is an unfolding assault taking place in America today -- an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in free and fair elections, an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are -- who we are as Americans.
For leftists like Biden, voting reforms aimed at ensuring "free and fair" elections are abhorrent, are obstacles to leftist hegemony in the country for generations to some. Included among his lies on vote reform was Biden's complaint about measures to make sure observers of ballot-counting are not prevented from carrying out their responsibilities. Who would object to a reform providing for bipartisan monitoring of ballot-counting -- other than someone who wanted ballot-count finagling to bar an honest count?
At another point, Biden said:
[H]ere's the deal. In 2020 democracy was put to a test -- first by the pandemic; then by a desperate attempt to deny the reality and the results of the election; and then by a violent and deadly insurrection on the Capitol, the citadel of democracy.
Common sense suggests that "the pandemic" served as an excuse for relaxed vote procedures, including early voting and ballot-harvesting, procedures that arguably resulted in ballots of dubious authenticity. Common sense also tells us that by that phrase "a violent and deadly insurrection on the Capitol," Biden is in lockstep with Speaker Pelosi's apparent plan to use her "Jan. 6" select committee to light political fires for autos-da-fe of the GOP.
This is not to say that political truth cannot be discerned in reading the text of Biden's false statement on voting rights. Consider this statement in the July 13 speech: "[M]ake no mistake, bullies and merchants of fear and peddlers of lies are threatening the very foundations of our country." Indeed so. But the common sense test points to leftists as Biden's "bullies and merchants of fear," and their mouthpieces at propaganda mills like The New York Times and Washington Post as the "peddlers of lies."
In short, this is to advise Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures to use Chief Justice Marshall's concluding paragraph in Gibbons v. Ogden as a working guide to disclose to the American people the false claims in any given statement from an ingeniously-minded Democrat.
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