New Media Push: “Give Up” on Constitution


The New York Times just ran an editorial, “Let’s Give Up On The Constitution.” I don’t think this effort can be considered some kind of anomaly. Virtually all of the media campaign for gun restrictions is based on precisely the idea that the Constitution has no relevance for public policy. So I see this article written by the professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University, Louis Michael Seidman, as simply cover for what is already going on.

“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? Constitutional disobedience may seem radical, but it is as old as the Republic. In fact, the Constitution itself was born of constitutional disobedience. When George Washington and the other framers went to Philadelphia in 1787, they were instructed to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation, which would have had to be ratified by the legislatures of all 13 states. Instead, in violation of their mandate, they abandoned the Articles, wrote a new Constitution and provided that it would take effect after ratification by only nine states, and by conventions in those states rather than the state legislatures.”

Notice how ungrateful and judgmental we are asked to be. It reminds me of a teenager using his parents’ faults as an excuse for disobeying them. And notice also how on the one hand, these dead white men are unworthy of constraining us, but, on the other hand, we’re supposed to follow their example when they (according to our author) committed treason against the Articles of the Confederation.

Furthermore, virtually every government on earth was formed by conquest or in some other unsavory way. Our author’s reasoning means that virtually no authority on earth should be obeyed.

There is so much wrong in this article, I can only mention a few things. The author actually appeals to John Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts as a reason not to be restrained by the Constitution! Those laws were horribly un-American, but maybe now that Obama is pushing indefinite detention and kill lists, those laws are going to be praised as “progressive.”

And then this: “No one can predict in detail what our system of government would look like if we freed ourselves from the shackles of constitutional obligation.” Who is this “we”? The Constitution doesn’t shackle us. It shackles the government. The article pretends to aim at liberating the people, but it actually advocates that the government be free of any restrictions on its authority. And since government is the power of coercion and threatening with lethal force, by freeing government the article advocates enslaving the people.

I have only begun to point out the flaws in this article, but I don’t have space to do much more. I think it is telling that nowhere does this piece mention the Second Amendment. In the context of our present hysteria, I think the right to bear arms is undoubtedly one of the author’s primary targets. He just doesn’t want to admit it.

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