Back in December of 2012, Georgetown law professor Louis Michael Seidman decided it was time trash the U.S. Constitution. He had to because “the American system of government is broken, and we’re to blame.” Why? It’s due to “our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.” Yes, the obedience that the president, vice-president, every member of Congress, and the military take upon entering duty, or a new term.
Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.
I take it he doesn’t like the part where Madison wrote that the federal government’s powers were “few and defined.” Regardless, it’s a progressive rant against our government, and its institutions. Seidman, although I’m not privy to his political views, feels that gridlock is a bad thing. He asks, “Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?” He uses past American history of “constitutional disobedience” to justify his position to destroy our founding document.
Yesterday, CBS Sunday Morning provided a platform for Professor Seidman to continue his evisceration of the Constitution.
MICHAEL LOUIS SEIDMAN: I’ve got a simple idea: Let’s give up on the Constitution. I know, it sounds radical, but it’s really not. Constitutional disobedience is as American as apple pie. For example, most of our greatest Presidents — Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, and both Roosevelts — had doubts about the Constitution, and many of them disobeyed it when it got in their way.
To be clear, I don’t think we should give up on everything in the Constitution. The Constitution has many important and inspiring provisions, but we should obey these because they are important and inspiring, not because a bunch of people who are now long-dead favored them two centuries ago. Unfortunately, the Constitution also contains some provisions that are not so inspiring. For example, one allows a presidential candidate who is rejected by a majority of the American people to assume office. Suppose that Barack Obama really wasn’t a natural-born citizen. So what? Constitutional obedience has a pernicious impact on our political culture. Take the recent debate about gun control. None of my friends can believe it, but I happen to be skeptical of most forms of gun control. I understand, though, that’s not everyone’s view, and I’m eager to talk with people who disagree.
But what happens when the issue gets Constitutional-ized? Then we turn the question over to lawyers, and lawyers do with it what lawyers do. So instead of talking about whether gun control makes sense in our country, we talk about what people thought of it two centuries ago. Worse yet, talking about gun control in terms of constitutional obligation needlessly raises the temperature of political discussion. Instead of a question on policy, about which reasonable people can disagree, it becomes a test of one’s commitment to our foundational document and, so, to America itself.
This is our country. We live in it, and we have a right to the kind of country we want. We would not allow the French or the United Nations to rule us, and neither should we allow people who died over two centuries ago and knew nothing of our country as it exists today. If we are to take back our own country, we have to start making decisions for ourselves, and stop deferring to an ancient and outdated document.
Granted, he doesn’t thinks it’s all bad. He feels that “freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.”
The rights codified in our Constitution were the ones that tyrants suspended. Those were the ones our Founding Fathers felt needed to be addressed first and foremost. The right to speech, assembly, a fair trial by your peers, and the right to bear arms. Mr. Seidman fails to recognize is that our system is suppose to work slowly, even in times of crisis. In fact, when 90% of good government is when it does absolutely nothing. Mr. Seidman also fails to mention, as George Will likes to reference, a single thing that the American people clamored for in a long, and protracted way, that they did not eventually get. Why? It’s because everything they asked for, the government eventually gave to them. How is that a sign of dysfunction? It may have taken years, or a civil war, but black civil rights, the women’s right to vote, the abolition of slavery, and end of the Vietnam War were all accomplished by an animated citizenry. That’s not to say they weren’t a thorn in the government’s side, but these ends were met safely – and that’s how our system works. Our Founders wanted a safe government, not an efficient one. It’s something liberals and progressives need to recognize.
Yes, there have been instances of “constitutional disobedience,” but it doesn’t make it right.
(H/T Breitbart TV)