The biggest liberal newspaper in the country has printed a column from a top progressive scholar calling on the American people to ignore the Constitution with its “evil provisions,” revealing the far-left agenda for what it is and making sense of several major actions of the Obama administration.
Those who love liberty and our Constitution need to speak up and be heard. The Constitution is the cornerstone of the United States of America as a nation. It holds us together, gives us our national identity, and is the surest safeguard against an all-powerful government.
That is why every officer of federal and state government must take an oath to support and defend the Constitution before they can assume the powers of their office. Every military officer must swear to support the Constitution, including the words “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
And every lawyer–as an officer of the courts–takes an oath to support the Constitution. I have taken such an oath ten times in my career, including one standing before the nine justices of the Supreme Court.
So did Professor Louis Michael Seidman of Georgetown, but now he evidently thinks taking such an oath was a mistake. In a New York Times column, he calls for America to free itself of “bondage” to the Constitution. Speaking of what’s wrong in the country today, he laments that “no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.”
Looking through American history, Seidman claims that “flagrant disregard of the Constitution [has] helped us to grow and prosper.” He lauds governmental systems like Great Britain that have parliamentary supremacy, where the government can vote to do absolutely anything it wants. This is precisely the form of government we rejected when we revolted against Britain and declared independence in 1776. Perhaps Seidman thinks the American Revolution was a mistake.
This is the heart of judicial activism. A law-trained elite believes they can create a better country than the Constitution does, one that embodies liberal priorities and makes the big decisions for ordinary people. They consider you too dim-witted to make your own decisions and need wise people (meaning them) to tell you how to live, what you can say, whether you can own a gun, what business you can make a living in, how you will raise your kids, and how you will spend your money. (For example, Obamacare’s individual mandate to buy health insurance.) They don’t trust the people.
By contrast, the Constitution is premised on a mistrust of government, not the people, and protects you from these elitists imposing their vision on you and your loved ones. That is why the Framers took government power and broke it–dividing it between the federal government and state governments, splitting federal power between legislative, executive, and judicial branches, and giving each branch ways to stop the others.
It’s also why conservatives believe in originalism–that courts must be bound to interpret the words of the Constitution in accordance with the meaning that We the People understood them to have when we inserted them into the Supreme Law, forever putting them beyond the reach of Congress, the courts, and the president–any president, of any party.
I shudder to think of what Seidman’s America would look like. This leading progressive doesn’t think everything in the Constitution is bad. He references several provisions like the First Amendment, and says, “We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.”
But the whole point of having a written Constitution is to make the limits on government power an obligation, so that we never must desperately hope government will “respect” our rights enough not to grind us into the dust beneath its boot. Our written Constitution creates a national government of strictly limited powers, with the people in all other respects sovereign to act as they fit through their state governments. That’s why the Bill of Rights ends with the words of the Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
It is the Constitution that protects homeowners from government taking away their property, protects churches from having government decree who their leaders will be, protects you from being disarmed by the government, or having government track your movements every day on a whim.
Justice Samuel Alito gave a speech last year mentioning that the Obama administration argued in court it had the power to do many of these things. Only the Constitution stands in the way of President Barack Obama and an ultra-left agenda. And so progressives like Seidman say the solution is to torch the Constitution, clearing the way for authoritarian rulers to do with you whatever they think best for the “greater good.”
The pushback from conservatives to this direct assault on the Constitution is underway. Professor Robby George of Princeton already wrote a piece saying the New York Times column shows some liberals have decided to “ditch the disguise” and admit their modern “reinterpretation” of the Constitution as a “living document” is merely a disregard of what the Constitution says in favor of what liberals think it should say.
Ambassador Ken Blackwell, a university professor who serves on the board of the Becket Fund with George, praised his colleague, adding:
When I was in Egypt observing their elections, Ruth Bader Ginsburg made her comment that the Egyptians should not look to the U.S. Constitution when writing their own constitution, and instead look to countries like South Africa. Those constitutions set forth a much bigger role and powers for government, and less freedom for the people. They include economic entitlements like government-run healthcare, but deny rights like the Second Amendment designed to keep the government as the servant of the people, rather than their master.
Contrary to Seidman’s claims, a group of dead white men didn’t give us to the Constitution. We the People adopted it. And We the People can change it anytime we wish–as we have 27 times since its creation. Government is to be our servant, and the terms of that service are words We the People chose to enshrine in the Constitution.
That is what makes America exceptional. It’s what protects us from the likes of Seidman and the statist world they wish to create. It’s made us the freest, most prosperous nation the world has ever seen.
This recent column from the New York Times–liberals’ flagship publication–should be a clarion call to the American people that the surest guarantee of our freedom is under threat like never before. The Times chose to print this piece from a guest writer. This column gave voice to what countless leftists believe but won’t publicly say for fear of putting the American people on alert, by attacking the very concept of limited government and openly saying government should have absolute power to do what it wants.
As I wrote in my book Resurgent, Ronald Reagan warned the country in a 1987 speech that freedom is always only a single generation from extinction. As 2013 begins and this country braces for four more years of the most liberal president this country has ever seen, the American people must defend the Constitution as if our very freedom depends on it.
Because it does.
Ken Klukowski is legal columnist for Breitbart News and coauthor of Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America.