Judge Napolitano Warns Of Constitutional Indifference And The Rise Of An American Caesar

In a recent column, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano questioned whether America’s constitutional guarantees are secure and if the custodians of these norms can be trusted to restrain attempts to ignore, diminish, or evade the Constitution. Napolitano argues that the history of “constitutional indifference” dates back to the early days of the republic, when Congress and Presidents George Washington and John Adams enacted legislation that defied constitutional restraints.

Napolitano cites examples such as the creation of the first National Bank of the United States, the Insurrection Act, and the Alien and Sedition Acts, all of which were passed despite objections from then-Congressman James Madison, a key architect of the Constitution. These early instances of constitutional indifference, Napolitano argues, set a precedent for the steady radical growth of government at the expense of personal liberty.

Today, there are around 135 largely unknown statutes that allow presidents to take extraordinary actions during self-declared emergencies, such as closing federal highways, confiscating bank accounts, and shutting down the internet, all without due process. Napolitano points to various presidents throughout history who have used these emergency powers to violate constitutional norms, from Abraham Lincoln arresting journalists during the Civil War to Franklin D. Roosevelt incarcerating Japanese Americans during World War II.

More recent examples include George W. Bush authorizing the NSA to spy on Americans without warrants after 9/11, Barack Obama bombing Libya without a congressional declaration of war, Donald Trump building a border fence in defiance of Congress, and Joe Biden forgiving student loans despite a Supreme Court ruling.

Napolitano concludes by questioning why the Constitution is entrusted to those who are deliberately indifferent to it and whether America is truly dictator-proof. He asks, “Who or what will save us from those who’d crush our freedoms to enhance their own powers?”