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Ed Driscoll

‘Play It Again, John’

January 7th, 2011 - 7:58 am

Who knew that reading the Constitution was to the left like waving a cross in front of a vampire? (Or heck, waving a cross to the left, for that matter.) But sunlight and the Constitution are the best disinfectants, Paul Mirengoff of Power Line writes:

I thought it was a good idea for the Constitution to be read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives as that body kicked off its new session. The reading reminded those present of the contents of our fundamental law and symbolized a commitment to adhere to that law.

But what seemed like a good idea turned out to be a great one. For instead of good naturedly going along with the exercise, or suffering in silence, a number of leftists publicly displayed their lack of comfort with, if not contempt for, the Constitution. Thus, the public received its clearest indication to date that the left regards the words of the Constitution as an impediment to its agenda.

Thomas Sowell explores how the Constitution, has long been a spanner in the gearworks of the anointed:

During the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, the denigration of the Constitution began, led by such luminaries as Princeton scholar and future President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, future Harvard Law School Dean Roscoe Pound and future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

As a professor at Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson wrote condescendingly of “the simple days of 1787″ when the Constitution was written and how, in our presumably more complex times, “each generation of statesmen looks to the Supreme Court to supply the interpretation which will serve the needs of the day.”

This kind of argument would be repeated for generations, with no more evidence that 1787 was any less complicated than later years than Woodrow Wilson presented — which was none — and with no more reasons why the need for “change” meant that unelected judges should be the ones making those changes, as if there were no elected representatives of the people.

Professor Roscoe Pound, likewise, referred to the need for “a living constitution by judicial interpretation,” in order to “respond to the vital needs of present-day life.” He rejected the idea of law as “a body of rules.”

But if law is not a body of rules, what is it? A set of arbitrary fiats by judges imposing their own vision of “the needs of the times”? Or a set of arbitrary regulations stealthily emerging from within the bowels of a bureaucracy?

Louis Brandeis was another leader of this Progressive Era chorus of demands for moving beyond law as rules. He cited “newly arisen social needs” and “a shifting of our longing from legal justice to social justice.”

In other words, judges were encouraged to do an end run around rules, such as those set forth in the Constitution, and around the elected representatives of “we the people.” As Roscoe Pound put it, law should be “in the hands of a progressive and enlightened caste whose conceptions are in advance of the public.”

That is still the vision of the left a hundred years later. The Constitution cannot protect us unless we protect the Constitution, by voting out those who promote end runs around it.

Or as Charles Krauthammer puts it, “Liberals got in trouble in the ’60s and ’70s for being on the wrong side of the flag (in antiwar demonstrations) and now three decades later, they want to be on the wrong side of the Constitution?”

Howard Dean once said that he would use “whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy.” From Dean’s perspective then, isn’t it for the best that his party and their media house organs have finally dropped the mask?

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