On Dec. 30, the New York Times editorial page featured what has to qualify as one of the most intellectually vapid columns of the year. And considering the source, that’s saying something!
Louis Michael Seidman says we simply must do away with our blind obedience to the Constitution!
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.
Huh? Obedience to the Constitution? Really?
The federal government has utterly ignored constitutional limits for the last 100 years or more. With the logical acumen of a 13-year-old, Seidman makes this very point, spending a large portion of his allotted space in the Grey Lady chronicling federal usurpation of power. This constitutional law professor from Georgetown University winds up his dissertation on constitutional infidelity with this brilliant observation.
In the face of this long history of disobedience, it is hard to take seriously the claim by the Constitution’s defenders that we would be reduced to a Hobbesian state of nature if we asserted our freedom from this ancient text. Our sometimes flagrant disregard of the Constitution has not produced chaos or totalitarianism; on the contrary, it has helped us to grow and prosper.
So let me follow the Seidman logic trail here. We’re teetering on the edge of fiscal chaos. The American system is broken. And it’s all because of our obedience to the Constitution. But nobody really takes the Constitution seriously. Really, they never have. That led us to where we are today: prosperous, without a hint of chaos or totalitarianism. But the system is broken. And we need to ignore the evil Constitution to get things back on the right track.
Did this maven of dime store academia get his constitutional law degree out of a Cracker Jack Box?
How about this Louis: the federal government holds the Constitution in utter contempt, ignores it wholesale except when politically expedient and pretty much does whatever it wants. As a result, we have undeclared wars, kill lists, rampant violations of our most basic civil liberties and extension of federal power into nearly every aspect of American life. Lacking any constitutional restraint, Congress spends on whatever it wants, running up a $16 trillion debt and driving America right over the so-called fiscal cliff.
Yeah, clearly the Constitution is the problem here.
Seidman claims we must “try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance.” But history demonstrates that government without constraints and unfettered from the rule of law simply grows more powerful and oppressive. The federal government extricated itself from constitutional bondage long ago. I don’t think anybody outside the ghetto of academia would argue that the American people have more freedom as a result.
Of course, for those who consider themselves the political and intellectual elite, it’s not really about freedom, is it? It’s about more power for them.
Thomas Jefferson had the right strategy for dealing with those folks.
“ In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”