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The PJ Tatler

Scott Ott


May 9, 2014 - 2:08 pm

Can the U.S. Constitution be understood independent of the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence?

Does the Constitution exist to protect democracy, or do democratic elements of the republic exist to protect individual liberty?

Is it possible that critics of “judicial activism” on the Right and Left have mistaken their personal preferences for Constitutionality?

Should judges defer to legislatures because the latter are “of the people,” and legislative mistakes are easier to clean up than judicial precedents?

In “The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty,” Timothy Sandefur grapples with these and related questions by setting the Constitution in the context of the Declaration. He maintains that the former cannot be properly understood or applied without the principles of individual liberty espoused in the latter.

‘Progressives’, on the Right and Left, have convinced several generations of Americans that the Constitution favors majoritarianism over individual rights, democracy over liberty. Sandefur, however, says that legislatures incline toward tyranny as easily as monarchs do, and that courts see their role properly when they restrain lawmakers within the bounds of the Constitution as seen through the lens of the Declaration.

‘The Conscience of the Constitution’ makes a compelling, thoughtful case, in accessible and vigorous prose, that we need to return to a jurisprudence–as well as a framework for lawmaking and implementation–that couples these two founding documents.

Scott Ott co-hosts a news, commentary and humor show called Trifecta on PJTV. He created and hosted the 20-part series on the Constitution titled Freedom's Charter. His satire site, ScrappleFace, spawned three books and praise from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and many others.

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All Comments   (12)
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I would add that the Declaration and Constitution are necessary but insufficient without an objective and skeptical press. Those documents provide the framework for ensuring our liberties but presume a balanced level of knowledge and influence among the branches of government.

The voice of the citizen is supposed to be reflected in elections. If citizen voters are lied to, propagandized and cheated by voter fraud at the voting booth then, the whole edifice is compromised by a disinformed electorate.

Returning to the framework for lawmaking and implementation in the absence of a reformed press is almost pointless.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Sandefur, however, says that legislatures incline toward tyranny as easily as monarchs do..."

So do judges, appointed for life to an implicit veto power over those accountable to the people every two years.

Without a check of some kind on the judiciary, the rule of law has been every bit as precarious as under either hereditary despotism or mob rule.

The fatal lapse is when those responsible for checking others' abuses cover for them instead, in return for having their own abuses covered.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
My reading of the D. of Independence and the Constitution was that the thinking behind it had come to the conclusion that European systems of governance - kings backed by religion - were fundamentally flawed, that people were fundamentally flawed. People were unequal in talent and temperament but this had no institutions to provide a consistent outlet.

Europe tended to institutionalize bigotry and oppression. Although it toyed with republican forms of gov't, it could not completely throw off its addiction to princes, who were nothing more than dictators, indifferently restrained by parliaments.

American governance is meant to address those fundamental issues of king and religion - to kick the institutional props out from under them - banish them in the case of kings.

There was no equal starting line in Europe, and Americans meant to provide one. But now that has morphed into the unintended - equal outcome.

American governance sought to protect people from institutions and institutions from people. In order to do this, principle in its broadest strokes was employed to hinder undue advantages. Our laws were tweaked to hinder capital monopolies.

But now institutions are under assault by individuals with unprincipled aims. They are ignoring and bypassing our institutions to employ strategies which favor some over others and fracture us into competing racial groupings which increasingly ignore law. The Constitution is being cherry-picked like vultures who fight over the best parts of a carcass.

America is increasingly turning into a sort of confessional gov't like Lebanon, where three sides eye each other with suspicion, like our 3 branches of gov't, but without trusted institutions to ensure all get a fair shake.

All men are created equal should be changed to "start your engines and good luck. Let the chips fall where they may, and the devil take the hindmost."

Instead we have a de facto enforced charity which reaches into Nigeria and Guatemala and has created a vast welfare state to take the place of Catholics vs. Protestants. It has gotten to the point where no person who doesn't subscribe to faith in the new religion can be elected President, and laws are being circumvented by the IRS, FBI, DOJ, and CIA working alongside the NAACP and La Raza to ensure that.

This is why political correctness, which is a thing that hides within a camouflage of anti-oppression movements - like the Nazis were "oppressed" - is the greatest danger to America since WW II.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Declaration and the Constitution are both libertarian documents. I like that.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Great Books volume has those two and The Federalist Papers under the title "American State Papers".
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama and his Woodstock Weaponized government believe that the Constitution is a "charter of negative rights".

(Based upon his treatment of the truth, religion, drone strikes and Danish blondes...he apparently feels the same way about The Ten Commandments)

In Obama world, the Constitution blocks the ability to steal wealth from the "haves". The courts are too bound by pesky precedent, so the coalition of the willing Woodstock would need to be cobbled together.

Tyranny is made in such ways.

I do not see the corollary on the right. I do not see treason and totalitarianism on the right. The 2001 interview (and the Pfleger cringeworthy minstrel act, about stealing "yo daddy's and yo grand daddy's 401k"...we're buried by the Woodstock Weaponized Media.

The Declaration and the Constitution did not give government the right to weaponize agencies against the people. It did not give one branch the right to ignore the laws and impose sanctions by fiat.

Obama believes that laws constrain him. They are stop signs and he is in a cop car with the lights flashing. Stop signs are for tourists...he is in a hurry to "redistribute" money, power, influence, worship, and rights according to the Woodstock Weaponized legislation handbook.

There is NO corollary on the right.

This is treason. He announced it in a 2001 radio interview. He doesn't believe in our founding documents and he and his cabal will not allow themselves to be questioned on their open, naked and notorious denial to preserve them.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Before he became President, Lincoln did a series of essays and speeches on the importance of the Declaration:
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The biggest mistake the Founders made was to not enshrine the Declaration in the original Bill of Rights as the 11th Amendment.

I hear much talk about amending the Constitution. How about a better idea: start governing by the Constitution again before changing something we don't use much anymore anyway, AND, make one amendment: embed a statement stating that the entire Constitution MUST reflect the sentiments of the Declaration.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
A couple of minor patches are a must:
Term limits including on judges and hirelings
Career limits on the elected, the appointed and the hirelings
No pensions!!
No direct election of the Senate
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Gotta shake my head guys. You missed the point of both the blog post and my comment.
We're not being governed by the Constitution anymore. Get it?
Restore that governance first, then decide if you need to amend it
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The hirelings...inmates running the asylum
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would add to that -

More tightly restrict the Commerce Clause.
Clarify the intent of the 14th Amendment, get rid of the "Anchor Baby" issue.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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