Selective Constitutional Ignorance

Why is it that some parts of the Constitution folks seem to be okay with either ignoring or interpreting as they see fit, but others they seem to accept even when they disagree with it?

For example, many interpret Article I, Section 8, which specifies the powers of Congress, as they see fit.

Many completely ignore Article V: Amendment and seem to be okay with effectively amending the Constitution through the Supreme Court, rather than with approval of state legislatures.

Yet, while many people don’t seem to like it, they accept the method for electing the President (electoral college), rather than ignoring it or interpreting it to their liking.

We also respect the specified methods for electing congressman and senators, the latter of which was changed by the very amendment process (in Article V) that we ignore.

I just find it odd how people pick and choose which parts of the Constitution are to be followed and which parts are malleable.

7 thoughts on “Selective Constitutional Ignorance

  1. Some people dislike certain things because they believe their peers dislike them. They don’t really understand the pros and cons. They’ve just heard that it’s “bad”. If they really understood the issue, they would either stop accepting that which they say they don’t like or they would stop disliking it and accept it.

    • I agree. I think it’s good practice to catch yourself drawing a conclusion too fast to ask, why is it that way? Maybe I should gain a better understanding before I decide.

  2. Isn’t it just a specific example of how people selectively choose those bits of philosophy, art or science to justify their belief systems or to justify their actions while ignoring those bits that may be inconvenient to their belief systems of actions?

    I’m not saying it’s not a good point or one worth making but is it really surprising? Isn’t this something that we as people do everyday to everything we interact with? We pick and choose – we are rarely consistent or holistic in out absorption of ideas.

    • Yep. What is surprising to me is when they openly disagree with one part of the Constitution (electoral college), but accept that it is what it is, but altogether ignore or misinterpret other parts. Why don’t they have the ‘it is what is’ attitude with those parts?

    • I think the key is to understand why you believe something. Your belief system or principles may be used as a shortcut when faced with some issue, but you’ve got to be sure that you really understand why you believe in your principles, i.e. it’s gotta be something other than “guru X says it;s true”.

      • Agreed.

        In my experience, the best feedback I get about why I believe what I believe is from having discussions with people. Heck, sometimes I even discover that I believe something foolish. 🙂

        • So, think of this as a nugget that you might be able to use to discussions to show people the inconsistency in their thinking. I agree with Mike. Most people just say what they hear and haven’t given it much thought.

          But, if you find yourself in a discussion about the powers of government and someone is advocating a power that is not in the Constitution, ask them why they don’t advocate ignoring the electoral college, assuming they think the electoral college is bunk.

          I can imagine the conversation. Them: But, I think we should ignore it. It’s bunk. We should elect the president based on popular vote.
          You: But, that wasn’t my question. Why don’t we ignore it? Since you advocate ignoring the powers of Congress, why don’t we just ignore the electoral college?


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