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Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): Credentialed, Not Educated

Despite his law degree, an MSNBC appearance revealed him ignorant of two elements of the Constitution.

by
Clayton E. Cramer

Bio

May 11, 2013 - 12:00 am
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Additionally, Senator Murphy, juris doctor, could review the works of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story. From his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833):

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic, since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers, and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

Even the relatively rare nineteenth state Supreme Court decisions that upheld laws regulating knives or the carrying of weapons were careful to acknowledge the purpose of the right to keep and bear arms. Aymette v. State (Tenn. 1840) acknowledged that the right, derived from the English Bill of Rights (1689), was so that the people, “being armed, they may as a body rise up to defend their just rights, and compel their rulers to respect the laws.”

The same decision, by the way, held that only military weapons were protected — and this is next to the most restrictive gun-rights decision of the entire nineteenth century.

A more expansive view of the right comes from the Texas Supreme Court in Cockrum v. State (Tex. 1859), which held that both the Second Amendment and the Texas Constitution’s arms provision had at least one aspect in common:

The object of the first clause cited, has reference to the perpetuation of free government, and is based on the idea, that the people cannot be effectually oppressed and enslaved, who are not first disarmed.

These are not isolated examples; my book For the Defense of Themselves and the State has hundreds more.

Perhaps the insurrectionary model of the Second Amendment is out of date today, but I don’t think so. If anything, the twentieth century — the century of multiple genocides, often by the governments of the victims — is a stronger argument for a population able to fight back than it was in 1789. To pretend, as Senator Murphy does, that the insurrectionary model of the Second Amendment is crazy or ahistorical? That is crazy and ahistorical.

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Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012). He is raising capital for a feature film about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858.

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All Comments   (8)
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Unfortunately, for much of the citizenry, the shame of showing ignorance is vistigal. The low information voters are not ashamed of being so, but wear it as a badge of belonging, and there are learned but ambitious men such as the Senator who play to their passion.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
At one time a college degree meant one was educated in the classical sense, meaning one had a broadly based education. Today a degree, especially an advanced or specialty degree (like a law degree), simply means one is a narrowly trained specialist and the higher the degree the more narrow the focus. So, just having a degree doesn't make them either broadly knowledgeable, wise or even smart, it just means they are well trained and good at taking tests.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I also agree with Marc Malone. I give Murphy the benefit of the doubt that he couldn't possibly be that ignorant of the Constitution and American history.

He is obviously campaigning for the next election cycle he must face, and betting that more voters than not, in Connecticut, think that giving up Constitutional rights and living in an authoritarian state, will ensure their personal safety. Murphy doesn't care about the Constitution or history; he cares about getting re-elected, or being elected to another office.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is an excellent article, but I agree with Marc Malone this is not ignorance on display, but malice aforethought. He wants to accrue power, and mow down anything that might get in the way. Call it by it's right name, evil. Those who would have us defenseless are not acting in our best interest but their own.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Really great column, thanks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Does Senator Murphy consider those states and local governments who have chosen to ignore Federal Immigration Law laughable? Or does he believe those governments that have established "Sanctuary Cities" for illegal immigrants are merely expressing their rights as sovereign states/cities to ignore federal laws that "violate" the U.S. Constitution?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is a surprise?

What about the socalled republican members of Congress and Senate, the legislature, law-making body of the nation? Or Judiciary? Oaths to uphold and defend? THE FUNDAMENTALl Document of title for these United States of We The People? The Bill of Rights of that fundamental, constitution, contains in English plain enough for any literate, or legally trained person, not only Amendment X but the one immediately preceding, Amendment IX. Not important?

Obama the present Chief Executive as reputed constitutional scholar who campaigned in "all 57 States" of these United States, certainly knows ONE Constitutional, ie lawful, qualification for public office as POTUS as SPECIFICALLY different from those for Congressman, Senator, and Judiciary. Why else Sealing from public, i.e. citizens' review, of documents as first act on taking the chair of Chief Executive?

Article II and that pesky "No person except a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN, OR a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be elligible to the Office of President"(emphasis added)
Obama also compares himself, when not as the Saviour of the Nation, to Abraham Lncoln.

Hasn't all this "for the good of the People" developed a cold civil war pitting citizen against citizen in all number of ways. To the general detriment of cohesiveness and national identity as American with a capital A? AND the continuiing growth of Central/Federal government. How many times by fiat, ie. Executive Order?

"We must all hang together or assuredly we SHALL ALL hang separately".

There is a group of people now dismissed de haut en bas from media pundits called Low Information Voters.

As damaging as they are to the Fundamental Character of this Constitutional Republic of the United States, how much more damaging are these same persons in Congress, Senate, Judiciary And Executive of the nation?

Keep your eyes open. You/We ain't seen nothing yet in their intention to "fundamentally transform" the nation of We The People, this hitherto Constitutional Republic of the United States.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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