By Alan Caruba
Perhaps the stupidest idea given an airing in a recent edition of The New York Times is Prof. Louis Michael Seidman’s opinion, “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.”
According to his commentary, Prof. Seidman has “taught constitutional law for almost 40 years” and he was “ashamed” it took him that long to conclude that it was an outdated, “bizarre” document.
Apparently President Obama, who was a lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, arrived at that conclusion more swiftly. His disregard for the Constitution recently got a slap down from the courts that ruled his recess appointments to the labor relations board were unconstitutional insofar as the Senate was not in recess.
I am not a constitutional scholar, but it should be self-evident that the oldest living constitution in the world has served to create and maintain the greatest republic in the world. Prof. Seidman asserts that Americans have “an obsession” with the Constitution and that is a very good thing indeed. Without it, we would likely have fallen prey to tyranny.
The framers of the Constitution did not spring it on their fellow citizens as a fait accompli, but rather as a new instrument of governance to replace the failed Articles of Confederation. A literate population was able to read the Federal Papers that argued for its various elements. It was submitted to the legislatures of the states for ratification.
We can thank those legislatures for the Bill of Rights because they insisted on amendments that would protect the right of free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, and other elements that protect the individual against abuses of power that we take for granted, but which exist throughout the world. It can be argued that the Arab Spring that overthrew a number of Middle Eastern despots are a reflection of those rights as understood by citizens in nations that have never enjoyed them.
We tend to forget that many nations even today are ruled by monarchs and others exercising power that denies their citizens any definition of freedom. The Founding Fathers, having fought a long war against the English monarch and his parliament, were particularly sensitive to that, creating an instrument of governance that deliberately created a system of checks and balances to ensure that no President or Congress could act in a manner contrary to the intent of the Constitution.
The Constitution intended to slow down the process of legislation to ensure it received a full debate and was not subject to the whims of the times. In a January 2011 policy analysis published by the Cato Institute, Marcus E. Ethridge noted that “In the wake of the 2010 elections, President Obama declared that voters did not give a mandate to gridlock. His statement reflects over a century of Progressive hostility to the inefficient and slow system of government created by the American Framers,” adding that “A large and growing body of evidence makes it clear that the public interest is most secure when government institutions are inefficient decision makers.”
The most recent example of this was the 2,000-plus page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). At the time, then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, famously said that “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” That’s the opposite of what the Framers had in mind and is an example of what happens when a political party acts in a tyrannical manner. We are already finding out that Obamacare is causing healthcare insurance rates to increase and will deny healthcare to older Americans and others deemed by bureaucrats to be a burden on the system.
Even so, the Supreme Court which is supposed to protect Americans from abuses of the Constitution, deemed Obamacare to be a “tax” and thus legal. The Obama administration had argued that it was not a tax until it got in front of the Court. The Court had long since dropped the ball, allowing the Commerce Clause to be stretched beyond its intent to permit Congress to justify all manner of legislation and regulation of the nation’s economy.
The Framers had to compromise on the issue of slavery, in effect “kicking the can down the street” in order to get assent from the Southern States. The Supreme Court exacerbated this with the Dred Scott decision that ruled that blacks were property no matter where they were. The result was the Civil War.
The argument that the Constitution is an outdated document ignores the fact that it has been amended twenty-seven times and remains the gold standard of law in America.
There are many enemies of freedom and Prof. Seidman’s opinion is just one example, a reflection of the way some intellectuals hold the rest of us in contempt.
One of the greatest plagues on mankind was the notion of communism, the product of Karl Marx’s hatred of private property—the keystone of the Constitution—and the view that people should be seen as a collective, not as individuals. The Constitution affirms that the power of government resides in “the people” who, as individuals, determine who shall “represent” them and are to be protected against the arrogance of power that spawns the inclination to “rule” rather than represent.
The Framers of the Constitution understood this. It is the only thing that stands between us and a tyrannical government run by Progressives, Liberals, and Marxists.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
A good read - as always. Keep the heat on them.
As former military officer I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign AND domestic. To be blunt, it's not Prof. Seidman's opinion that's an enemy of the Constitution, it's the professor himself who's the enemy of the Constitution.
It's people like him, and his ideological brother Barack Obama, who display a palpable disdain for the concepts that have made possible a great, prosperous, and free country that the USA is, or once was. It could be argued that save for the Third Amendment none of the rest in the Bill of Rights are intact.
Men like the professor and Obama didn't become "professors" of constitutional law in order to further it's application to a civilized society, but rather have studied the Constitution in order to evade, avoid, and to eviscerate the document that helped make this country a beacon of hope to the world. For them, it'd seem that the chaos of a progressive democracy where rules are so broad that they mean nothing is preferable to the stifling bondage of the chains of the Constitution being placed upon an out of control federal government.
Hence, such people present a clear and present danger to the very survival of a democratic Republic under the rule of constitutional law and a free market capitalist economy. Sadly, we may be the last generation in a once great at America to hear freedom ring.
Roberto E. Benitez
Major, USAF, Retired
Which, it seems apparent to me, makes mass civil disobedience--refusal to obey a tyrannical law--to be our last defense, before real violence and another civil war result from the Insane Left's present policies.
I agree, Harry. Civil disobedience is the preferred choice. Obamacare could be repealed if enough states refused to implement it.
I agree, Roberto. I hope that today's officers and other ranks will refuse to obey clearly unconstitution and illegal orders.
"My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it." -- Barack Obama
There you go, an explanation as to WHY so many are suddenly finding the Constitution to be outdated...
That's it! That is the lesson Republicans need to really show they understand, and espouse to the public! They are elected to represent us, not to rule over us
Joel, last time I checked there are two parties in Congress. The Democrats control the Senate and the Republicans the House.
Previously, when the Democrats controled both we got Obamacare jammed down our throats.
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