Monday, December 31, 2012
Let’s Give Up on the Constitution!
That's the title of an amazing rant in today's Pravda-on-the-Hudson, written by one Louis Michael Seidman who -wait for it- receives a handsome salary from the taxpayers to teach Constitutional law at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Here's a slice:
As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.
Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?
Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.
As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?
Hey, why not? We could confiscate the guns from all those knuckle draggers in flyover country, we could have Barack Obama as president for life, we could get rid of the Tenth Amendment and take away all state's rights, there's literally no limits on government and what it can do. And that, of course, is what educated fools like Professor Seidman are absolutely clueless about. Read this:
This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.
Nor should we have a debate about, for instance, how long the president’s term should last or whether Congress should consist of two houses. Some matters are better left settled, even if not in exactly the way we favor. Nor, finally, should we have an all-powerful president free to do whatever he wants. Even without constitutional fealty, the president would still be checked by Congress and by the states. There is even something to be said for an elite body like the Supreme Court with the power to impose its views of political morality on the country.
What would change is not the existence of these institutions, but the basis on which they claim legitimacy. The president would have to justify military action against Iran solely on the merits, without shutting down the debate with a claim of unchallengeable constitutional power as commander in chief. Congress might well retain the power of the purse, but this power would have to be defended on contemporary policy grounds, not abstruse constitutional doctrine. The Supreme Court could stop pretending that its decisions protecting same-sex intimacy or limiting affirmative action were rooted in constitutional text.
Ah, but without the Constitution, Professor, there's no guarantee that you can just keep the bits and pieces you like.The document is unique in that it supplies a foundation and an anchor for our liberties, even the ones you disapprove of.Cut the anchor and those rights drift away with the prevailing wind.
For instance, who's to say that the next president - perhaps one Professor Seidman didn't vote for, or more likely one he did given his embrace of the statist agenda - won't interpret anything that's left in his own ways? For instance, why not put another 5 or 10 justices on the Supreme Court, all appointed by the current president? Franklin Roosevelt tried it, and was only halted when even Democrat leaders in Congress told him it was flat out unconstitutional and they wouldn't support it. Or maybe we should just scrap the court altogether. Why not? And while we're at it, we can interpret some of those freedoms the professor claims to approve of in startlingly different ways.
I also sniff something else that's more than a little bit foul in this educated fool's agenda. He's complaining here about revenue bills originating in the House precisely because there's a GOP majority there. Was he similarly opposed to President Obama's 'stimulus' or ObamaCare, both measures that were shoved through when Democrats had a supermajority and Republicans were literally locked out of the room? Both of those measures have had an adverse fiscal effect on the nation, but do you think Professor Seidman was jumping up and down screaming then?
I bet you my dollar to your dime he wasn't.
People like our friend Professor Seidman have been lecturing to captive audiences so long without being challenged that they no longer feel the necessity of actually thinking, what with tenure and all that goes with it.If this degreed buffoon actually got what he's asking for here, he might not like it half as much as he thinks he would.
Those 'white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries' had more common sense in their individual little fingers than Professor Seidman does in his entire body. The Founders understood that human nature is unchanging, and they did a damned fine job of formulating the Constitution to stand the test of time and protect us against parasites like the professor who would nibble away at out liberties until they vanished..all for the Greater Good, of course.