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Thread: CBS & Georgetown University Prof: Dump the Constitution

  1. #1

    CBS & Georgetown University Prof: Dump the Constitution

    (CBS News) Is the U.S. Constitution truly worthy of the reverence in which most Americans hold it? A view on that from Louis Michael Seidman, Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University:

    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.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162...-constitution/


    ----------------------------------
    Why the Liberals Matter

    Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised. All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry. In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

    Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

    Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

    It's noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FDIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression. Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe is home from work.

    He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

    He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

    Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."
    Last edited by Warfish; 02-26-2013 at 02:32 PM.

  2. #2
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    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.
    Lawyers. Not, Lawmakers.



  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    (CBS News) Is the U.S. Constitution truly worthy of the reverence in which most Americans hold it? A view on that from Louis Michael Seidman, Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University:

    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.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162...-constitution/
    Of course the knee jerk reaction is to go all foamy at the mouth. But certainly its something that reasonable people can have a discussion about.

    Do certain things run their course over a few hundred years? Its possible, the world has changed, there are alot of things the founding fathers couldn't fathom.

    While I don't think is a good idea, its interesting food for thought.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by FF2® View Post
    Of course the knee jerk reaction is to go all foamy at the mouth. But certainly its something that reasonable people can have a discussion about.

    Do certain things run their course over a few hundred years? Its possible, the world has changed, there are alot of things the founding fathers couldn't fathom.

    While I don't think is a good idea, its interesting food for thought.
    I see what you're trying to do, troll. I'm not gonna let you try to bait anyone into a rational/logical discussion. Not on my watch.

  5. #5
    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.

    I haven't read much on the listed presidents' thoughts about the constitution's merits or lack thereof; but, I absolutely agree with the bolded statement, and wonder if the stated reverence of the constitution is for the rubes. And if so, how much does it matter anyway when for the last 12+ years (maybe more) it has been getting circumvented via technicality.

    From my understanding though, the amendment process and the three branches are what (are supposed to) make our democracy the greatest example (even if all those ideas aren't originally American). That the constitution can be changed or added onto seem to be strength. To "throw that out" seems pretty stupid.

    Most times anyway, I feel arguments about constitutionality are normally between fed and state. Occasionally they may be about executive overreach or so called "activist" judges.

  6. #6
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    They dumped the constitution back in 1860's unfortunately. They are trying to trample on it yet again in terms of the second Amendment. Sad State of affairs.

  7. #7
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    The Constitution is already dead.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by FF2® View Post
    Of course the knee jerk reaction is to go all foamy at the mouth. But certainly its something that reasonable people can have a discussion about.

    Do certain things run their course over a few hundred years? Its possible, the world has changed, there are alot of things the founding fathers couldn't fathom.

    While I don't think is a good idea, its interesting food for thought.
    Like the discussion we talked about way back being had by some British Professors regarding "post-birth abortion".

    You know, food for thought and all.

    The problem I have with this line of reasoning, is it is just so flexable. For example, the U.S. had a number of people, very well thought of, well rgearded, top educated people, who said the exact same thing.....about Germany in 1938.

    Respectfully, some things are not a colorless bag of shades of grey. Some things are black and white. IMO, killing Jews, post-birth abortions and throwing out the Constitution are three of those black and white issues.

    Of course, to the "food for though, lets have a rational discussion about it" crowd, such a bold declaration is generally just ignored as extremism.
    Last edited by Warfish; 01-28-2013 at 10:01 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Respectfully, some things are not a colorless bag of shades of grey. Some things are black and white. IMO, killing Jews, post-birth abortions and throwing out the Constitution are three of those black and white issues.
    One of these things is not like the others,
    One of these things just doesn't belong,
    Can you tell which thing is not like the others
    By the time I finish my song?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by isired View Post
    One of these things is not like the others,
    One of these things just doesn't belong,
    Can you tell which thing is not like the others
    By the time I finish my song?
    I'm embarassed for you tbqh Isi.

    If you think one doesn't belong, it displays a rather obvious lack of grasp over the issue of rights and protections of citizens from Governmet as a whole, or of human history.

    Let me guess, you think they'd never take away your rights, even without a Constituion/Bill of Rights, we can like, totally trust our Government. They never do bad stuff like that.

    It's an example, tho, of why having the chin-stroking "food for thought" discussions are oft impossible to tolerate for me. Apparently it's perfectly fine to contemplate throwing out the Bill of Rights, but comparing that to Nazi Germany, THAT is a step too far.



    I look forward tho Isi, to reading your rational discussion on the strong merits of this idea.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    I'm embarassed for you tbqh Isi.

    If you think one doesn't belong, it displays a rather obvious lack of grasp over the issue of rights and protections of citizens from Governmet as a whole, or of human history.

    Let me guess, you think they'd never take away your rights, even without a Constituion/Bill of Rights, we can like, totally trust our Government. They never do bad stuff like that.

    It's an example, tho, of why having the chin-stroking "food for thought" discussions are oft impossible to tolerate for me. Apparently it's perfectly fine to contemplate throwing out the Bill of Rights, but comparing that to Nazi Germany, THAT is a step too far.



    I look forward tho Isi, to reading your rational discussion on the strong merits of this idea.
    He's got wee ones, you pinhead. That's a PBS Children's song.

  12. #12
    Lets see Mr. Seidmans constitution.

  13. #13
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    The beauty of the Constitution is that it strikes a pretty effective balance between practicality and principle. It is really a document established to organize how we change and adapt -- a blueprint for action, not a dead set of principles. Nothing in it is in fact sacrosanct. The amendment process allows for any part of it to be altered at the will of a substantial majority of the people. The fact that it has been tampered with so little as a document is a testament to the founders having gotten something very right, despite all the compromises and the the sheer speed with which it was drafted.

    The issue is really around the act of interpreting what already is there. Thus the original intent vs. living document debate, which is really more about the role of judicial review.

    On a side note, I heard an interview with some gun advocacy guy on NPR on the way home from work. He stated that the Constitution was written to reduce the role of government and give rights back to the people. That was about as incorrect as one could be and betrayed a complete lack of knowledge of the history of the subject. He should have talked to some of the anti-Federalists at the time.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    I'm embarassed for you tbqh Isi.

    If you think one doesn't belong, it displays a rather obvious lack of grasp over the issue of rights and protections of citizens from Governmet as a whole, or of human history.

    Let me guess, you think they'd never take away your rights, even without a Constituion/Bill of Rights, we can like, totally trust our Government. They never do bad stuff like that.

    It's an example, tho, of why having the chin-stroking "food for thought" discussions are oft impossible to tolerate for me. Apparently it's perfectly fine to contemplate throwing out the Bill of Rights, but comparing that to Nazi Germany, THAT is a step too far.



    I look forward tho Isi, to reading your rational discussion on the strong merits of this idea.
    You don't need to be embarrassed for me, fish. I can look at things in a rational way, and discern differences, both subtle and not-so-subtle. It's an innate ability, not something I claim to have learned, and it's served me well both personally and professionally. Your flair for the dramatic does not cloud my judgement. It's funny, you have the same issue with me that your (not so much) old friend, whose screen name rhymes with spam, did.

    So to spell it or for you - first, the straw man: I don't think that "they" can never take away my rights. Of course "they" can. That's not what we were discussing, and if you think it is, I suggest you read the article you posted. It clearly does not advocate ridding ourselves of democracy in favor of marshal law, more as ameans of shifting the arguments we're currently having from political arguments to policy arguments. And I don't think the Constitution should be torn up. BUT...

    Two of the things in your list are premeditated murder (both from a logical standpoint, and in the eyes of the law) and both, ultimately, on a mass scale against helpless people (an army vs. an unorganized group of people, infants vs. grown men/women). One of those things is a set of rules. The best governing document in the history of the world, no doubt. But talking about tearing it up and starting over is not the equivalent of talking about rounding up and killing a race or religion, or an infant.

    I can't help but think you know this. But I feel like I say that often, so maybe I'm wrong.
    Last edited by isired; 01-29-2013 at 09:00 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestCoastOffensive View Post
    He's got wee ones, you pinhead. That's a PBS Children's song.
    LOL, my kids would have no idea what that is. It's a ditty from my youth, not sure if it's from The Electric Company (my favorite) or Sesame Street.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Like the discussion we talked about way back being had by some British Professors regarding "post-birth abortion".

    You know, food for thought and all.

    The problem I have with this line of reasoning, is it is just so flexable. For example, the U.S. had a number of people, very well thought of, well rgearded, top educated people, who said the exact same thing.....about Germany in 1938.

    Respectfully, some things are not a colorless bag of shades of grey. Some things are black and white. IMO, killing Jews, post-birth abortions and throwing out the Constitution are three of those black and white issues.

    Of course, to the "food for though, lets have a rational discussion about it" crowd, such a bold declaration is generally just ignored as extremism.
    I respect that you have a few "off limits" items and hardly vieiew them as extreme, in fact I would say they are pretty common, but I think you do your causes a disservice by not even willing to delve into them.

    Why not take the opportunity to express why you feel so strongly about them? if they are so absolute and your feelings so strong....surely they will survive a discussion, no?

    How did the British Professors turn out? Did everything change? Of course not. and I humbly submit that after a discussion about dumping the Consitution...it will survive just fine...in fact, may emerge even stronger in some views.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by long island leprechaun View Post
    The beauty of the Constitution is that it strikes a pretty effective balance between practicality and principle. It is really a document established to organize how we change and adapt -- a blueprint for action, not a dead set of principles. Nothing in it is in fact sacrosanct. The amendment process allows for any part of it to be altered at the will of a substantial majority of the people. The fact that it has been tampered with so little as a document is a testament to the founders having gotten something very right, despite all the compromises and the the sheer speed with which it was drafted.

    The issue is really around the act of interpreting what already is there. Thus the original intent vs. living document debate, which is really more about the role of judicial review.

    On a side note, I heard an interview with some gun advocacy guy on NPR on the way home from work. He stated that the Constitution was written to reduce the role of government and give rights back to the people. That was about as incorrect as one could be and betrayed a complete lack of knowledge of the history of the subject. He should have talked to some of the anti-Federalists at the time.
    It was written to block the over reach of the Federal Government and more to States Rights.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by isired View Post
    I can look at things in a rational way, and discern differences, both subtle and not-so-subtle.
    I'm sure many have said the same thing in the past, discussing (rationally, and with great chin-stroking) things we today would describe as horrific inhumanity.

    Your flair for the dramatic does not cloud my judgement. It's funny, you have the same issue with me that your (not so much) old friend, whose screen name rhymes with spam, did.
    My issue is the issues, not you or any specific person here.

    So to spell it or for you - first, the straw man: I don't think that "they" can never take away my rights. Of course "they" can. That's not what we were discussing, and if you think it is, I suggest you read the article you posted. It clearly does not advocate ridding ourselves of democracy in favor of marshal law, more as ameans of shifting the arguments we're currently having from political arguments to policy arguments.
    Let me be equally kind to spell it out for you as well: When you "throw out teh Constitution" as this professor and many liberals I know suggest, you throw out with it the Bill of Rights. What would replace it, who knows. It would surely be changed in many ways.

    What seems to elude both you and the professor is that Constitutional arguments ARE policy arguments. Our rights are sacrosanct, and not up for removal at the whims of current politicians over current hyped up emergencies. I will not give up my right to speech because one person abuses it, will not give up my right to bear arms because one crazy abuses it and will not give up my right to a trail by jury because our Federal Govt. might think they can just decide for me whats right and wrong.

    And I don't think the Constitution should be torn up.

    The best governing document in the history of the world, no doubt.
    But you're more than willing to see all those chin-stroking shades of grey around tearing it up. You're flexable that way. One might even say intellectual, smarter than anyone who might object to on principle to tearing it up, right?

    The same old tropes die hard I see. Agree with a liberal, and you're wicked smaaat. Disagree, and you're labeled ignorant and clsoe minded, maybe even bigoted and racist too. Same old **** different day.

    Hint my friend, "Tossing out the Constitution" is not the same as "Amending/Changing the Constitution to improve or update it".

    If we were discussing the second phrase, I'd be (and have been here on many occasions) all for it, if it followed the legal way of doing so. The first....is offensive to me, and should be to any American Citizen.

    The fact is there is a good sieze portion of the american left who sees the Constitution as an obstacle that must be overcome, that personal rights have no place, only the greater good of society as a whole (run by them of course, with them making all the decisions) is what we should strive for.

    You'll forgive me if I just go ahead and cut that off right ta the knees at the start. My rights are not negotiable to some "Lets rewrite the Constitution to Suit modern Socialist Collectivist Dogma" Committee.

    Two of the things in your list are premeditated murder (both from a logical standpoint, and in the eyes of the law) and both, ultimately, on a mass scale against helpless people (an army vs. an unorganized group of people, infants vs. grown men/women). One of those things is a set of rules.
    It's stunning to me that you cannot see how that apparently unimportant "srt of rules" is the primary protection keeping any Govt. from doing the horrific acts of the first items of the list.

    A people without rights enemuerated and protected are victims of anything a Govt. deicdes to do with it's power. Human history has no shortage of proof of this.

    But talking about tearing it up and starting over is not the equivalent of talking about rounding up and killing a race or religion, or an infant.
    One can led to the other without constant vigilence against the power of the State.

    I get it, you're squarely in the "that can never happen here" camp Isi. Of course, I used to think the same thing about many things that are now today a reality.

    I can't help but think you know this. But I feel like I say that often, so maybe I'm wrong.
    Think what you like either way.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by MnJetFan View Post
    It was written to block the over reach of the Federal Government and more to States Rights.
    Yes and it failed outright in the mid 1800's when the country had it's bloodiest war and new amendments were added vastly increasing federal power.

    The failure of originalists to understand the impact of the civil war and Lincoln on our Constitution is pretty interesting in it's total denial of reality.

    I modern Constitutional convention might be an interesting exercise although radification would be highly unlikely.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by FF2® View Post
    I respect that you have a few "off limits" items and hardly vieiew them as extreme, in fact I would say they are pretty common, but I think you do your causes a disservice by not even willing to delve into them.

    Why not take the opportunity to express why you feel so strongly about them? if they are so absolute and your feelings so strong....surely they will survive a discussion, no?

    How did the British Professors turn out? Did everything change? Of course not. and I humbly submit that after a discussion about dumping the Consitution...it will survive just fine...in fact, may emerge even stronger in some views.
    Did everythign change? No, not yet. Give it 50 years, and we'll see. Change of that scale takes one of two things, time or an emergency.

    For example, I never thought I'd live to see the day that American Citizens would be forced by law, under threat of fine and jail time, to buy a private product from a private business for some vague sense of "the greater good".

    Today, thats a reality.

    I never thought the idea of abortion would really be so mainstream that many consider it just another form of routine birth control. Today, with respect, that IS a reality.

    I never thought we'd do many things we do now, from de facto amnesty 9again) for illegal immigrants, to giving the "new" Egypt a few hundred Abrams tanks and F-16's free of change, no strings attached, when they're in mid "U.S. and Israel Sucks and Should Die" ranting.

    You'll simply have to forgive me (or not) if I draw a line somewhere, and that line is the Constitution, the greatest barrier to State power and abuse that has ever existed.

    As I said to Isi, if the discussion was "lets Amend it to fix X..." I am HAPPY to have that discussion. I've said that regularly here.

    If the discussion is "lets toss it all out, rewrite it" with a handful of liberal colelctivist "intellectuals" doing the writing, then no, I cannot chin-stroke and simply trust that such an event either wopn't come to pass, or won't revoke many of my most cherished rights for the supposed "greater good of teh collective", given how often that argument is used in every political discussion of the day now.

    I read my history. I know how Tyrany and abuse comes to pass. I will not line up as a willing participant.

    But like so many other issues, many seemingly will, enthusiasticly. And as time passes, more and more are it seems. The stand for liberty, individual rights, individual responsabillity and accountabillity, and protection of the individual seems (IMO) to be a dying beleif system in America Today.

    And no exageration about it, that scares the **** out of me. Worse is the feeling, stronger each day, that the "War" is already lost. That more now value freedom less, and comfort and control by the State far more. Just trust the Govt, and everything will be ok.
    Last edited by Warfish; 01-29-2013 at 10:15 AM.

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