Constitution 101 for (not by) Ivy League professors
Professor Seidman over at Georgetown University is “ashamed” that it took him so long to realize that we should “give up on the Constitution.” Regretfully, I must admit that I did not receive an Ivy League education and I was not indoctrinated by Georgetown geniuses; but, it does seem clear to me that the professor’s shame is a bit misdirected. Considering he was more privileged than I, it is shameful that he is either more ignorant to Constitutional scholarship than I or worse — he lacks the ethics to care that misleading people is wrong.
It strikes me as impossible that Seidman, a Constitutional law scholar, would be so naive as to write such an article in the New York Times without the aim being intentional deception. However, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and recap Constitutional Law 101. Hopefully we can clear up some misnomers for him and his readers.
Why must tax bills originate from the House of Representatives? There are several reasons for this mechanism and they all stem from the fact that the House has the closest relationship to the people. Bureaucracy can only implement public policy when funded. The people hold the power to object to despotic policy by defunding programs, salaries, and entire institutions.
Economist Milton Friedman correctly defined government debt as the bill eventually paid by the people in the form of higher taxes. More revenue to the government results in more power to the government and less freedom to the people. Ergo the people’s House ultimately holds the power of the purse to protect their freedom. Easy enough, right? Surely the professor knows that?
Why should we care to obey the Constitution if others have defied the Constitution before? A Georgetown University scholar is attempting to convince the readers to junk the Constitution by essentially arguing that two wrongs make a right. And yet, the New York Times runs it as Gospel. Yes, John Adams did ignore the 1st Amendment by signing the Alien & Sedition Acts that effectively banned free speech. So, is this supposed help his argument? Surely the professor wants to protect free speech?
Adams also served only one term, which is a testament to our Constitution and why we should “debate” the duration of a presidential term. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency does teach us a lesson about presidential power but one that serves as a warning, not an example. Had Roosevelt been allowed to consolidate more power, which is what Washington feared when he stepped down after two terms, the judicial branch would only serve as an instrument to impose the will of the executive branch. Surely the professor wants to limit presidential power?
Other countries do not need a Constitution, so why do we? The founders argued the need for a constitutional government that was “fundamental” or defined by written law. The constitutional governments of Britain and New Zealand, as referenced by Seidman, are inadequate to preserve our federalist system. The Constitution was not “itself born out of constitutional disobedience” because there was no “fundamental” relationship between the States and the federal government outlined in the Articles of Confederation. The States could not be forced to comply with the Treaty of Paris nor can branches of government be restrained to their respected powers without such boundaries defined. To suggest that our institutions will serve in place of the Constitution is either naive or ill intended. Surely the professor is not naive?
The entire premise of this argument is flawed. Seidman argues that despite defiance in the Constitution we have not only survived but we have thrived. Maybe the view is a little blurry from the top of the ivory tower at Georgetown University, but it is pretty obvious to most Americans — we are not fine.
Sarcasm aside, the country is far from surviving and certainly not thriving. As a nation we are sick and growing weaker by the day. Now is not the time to abandon anymore of who we are. That’s what they want because in political discourse, dysfunction is the ally of radicalism.
The professor is not naive in his understanding of the Constitution nor is the New York Times unaware of the article’s intention. This argument, that we better believe is coming, albeit in fragments by the professor’s own admission, is a culmination of a long-term despotic effort by progressives to dismantle and destroy this republic.
Seidman suspiciously pokes fun at Constitutionalists for fearing a Hobbesian state of nature. He wants you to find it ridiculous to fear that given the chance your government would ever oppress you. But he knows it’s not the actual state of nature that Constitutionalists fear. The nature of governments which more often than not oppresses the governed are what they fear. If the fear is unjustified, then why do they attack only the amendments within the Bill of Rights? He doesn’t want to write about that ugly truth.
Judging by the last election, the American people have been detached from the political process, but my intuition tells me the left is grossly over playing their hand. History as a whole is on the side of tyranny, but history hasn’t seen many Americas. I am nevertheless betting that the American people like their social contract the same way they like any other contract — on paper.
- Louis Michael Seidman: the con law professor v. the Constitution (newsworldwide.wordpress.com)
- Mike Krieger On The New York Times Propaganda Article ‘Let’s Give Up On The Constitution’ (infiniteunknown.net)
- Abandon the Constitution? Louis Seidman Sticks to His Guns (blogs.wsj.com)
- Georgetown Produces Trash: Professor Wants to Kill Constitution (bungalowbillscw.blogspot.com)
- Seidman: “Let’s Give Up on [Parts of] the Constitution” (volokh.com)