Georgetown Law professor says Washington should stop deferring to 'ancient' U.S. Constitution

Young_ChitlinYoung_Chitlin YCN Chief, FCC Member, IC Task Force GeneralASUville, PhoenixPosts: 12,614 ✭✭✭✭✭
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

A Georgetown University law professor is arguing the federal government should no longer be bound by the 'ancient' U.S. Constitution. Louis Michael Seidman argues that the document that created by the nation's Founding Fathers is outdated and forces lawmakers to focus on interpreting the will of a 200-year-old document, rather than creating public policy. Professor Seidman's argument runs in the opposite direction of most conservatives in Washington - especially Tea Party politicians who have made 'returning to the constitution' a rallying cry.

The respected constitutional scholar lays out his case that the American people are hamstrung by the document in his book 'On Constitutional Obedience.' He has also penned numerous news columns arguing the point. '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,' he wrote in the New York Times last month.

'Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.' His column in the Times argues that the fiscal cliff crisis and political paralysis are a result of the deeply flawed government established by the constitution, which has less and less relevance on the complex problems of modern America. In a video essay broadcast by CBS News on Sunday, Professor Seidman justified his position this way:

'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,' he said. President Thomas Jefferson, for instance, exceeded his presidential powers when he made the Louisiana Purchase. And Abraham Lincoln had no authority to abolish slavery, but he did anyway, Seidman argues.

'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are to take back our own country, we have to start making decisions for ourselves, and stop deferring to an ancient and outdated document,' he writes. Not surprisingly, this opinion has received large amounts of criticism. The National Review's Matthew Franck writes that Siedman 'would be extremely alarmed if any part of it that he likes, or any interpretation of it that he approves of, were to be disregarded.

'How about prior-restraint censorship of all his writings? How about if the local authorities where he lives banned contraception? How about if the president of the United States shipped him to Gitmo and he were denied habeas corpus?' The conservative blog Red State called the arguments 'bogus' and said that the constitution has always worked in the way it was intended to solve the nation's problems - albeit not always immediately.
jonounspoken_respect

Replies

  • twatgettatwatgetta Posts: 6,718 ✭✭✭✭✭
    THAT Professor needs to be fired immediately
    Soloman_The_Wise
  • jonojono Right fist = power, left fist = unity Posts: 17,419 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I completely agree. Ironically Thomas Paine (another one of those "ancient" thinkers) said something similar. It was something to the effect of it is the living that makes the laws, not the dead. I'm parphrasing of course, but the professor will face EPIC backlash from folks who deify Madison and Co. from those days.
    Soloman_The_WiseTooGood
  • PlutarchPlutarch Posts: 1,857 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2013
    Imo, this guy poses an interesting and compelling argument, but he's missing the essential point. The Constitution (and the Declaration of Independence) is what made/makes America America. It's what makes (or is supposed to make) America great. The fact that many other countries have drafted constitutions based on the American constitution speak volumes. The Constitution essentially defines and protects our rights, our representation, our democracy, our liberty, etc.

    Many people say the same thing about the Bible and say that's it outdated. What they fail to understand is that the most important things about the Bible and the Constitution are the ideas. And these ideas are supposed to be a guide, not a strict set of rules. The Constitution doesn't prevent us from thinking. That's why we have amendments to the Constitution. And most of these amendments, like the 13th and the 14th, were created to steer America back to the very ideas that the Constitution espouses.

    As for our past presidents and forefathers, if they violated the Constitution, then most likely they simply were wrong, even if they ended up doing good because the end doesnt justify the mean. People don't follow the Constitution because it's old. They follow it because it's truthful and because it reminds us of what and who we are. Bush violated the Constitution with the Patriot Act. The NYC police violated it with "Stop and Frisk." Obama violated it by getting us into undeclared wars without the approval of Congress. All these things are bad not so much because they violate the Constitution, but because they violate the ideas/laws of the Constitution that define America as a democratic republic. If a president can do some of the things that Obama and Bush did while denying the rights of Congress (basically having no regard for citizen representation, the three branches of government, and checks and balances), then he's nothing more than a dictator. And last time I remembered, America isn't supposed to have dictators. America fought for its independence from a dictator.
  • Young_ChitlinYoung_Chitlin YCN Chief, FCC Member, IC Task Force General ASUville, PhoenixPosts: 12,614 ✭✭✭✭✭
    This would make an awesome SL debate topic
  • janklowjanklow god's lonely man. Posts: 6,106 Regulator
    the problem i have is that i ultimately suspect he is not arguing from principle, but because he finds this argument to facilitate what he wants
    Soloman_The_Wise
  • PlutarchPlutarch Posts: 1,857 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2013
    ^^^ those were exact my sentiments as well. or rather i thought that he was going for controversy and publicity rather than genuine belief. the whole story kind of has that "going against the grain for the sake of going against the grain, attention-whore" vibe to it imo.
    Soloman_The_Wise
  • wharwhar Posts: 345 ✭✭✭
    janklow wrote: »
    the problem i have is that i ultimately suspect he is not arguing from principle, but because he finds this argument to facilitate what he wants

    This argument can be applied to the strict constitutionalists. A desire to overturn a series of "bad" decision by judges with strict observance of the Constitution being the facilitating force.

  • Meta_ConsciousMeta_Conscious Posts: 24,947 ✭✭✭✭✭
    there is no reason why a civilization as educated as ours cant draft a new constitution that reflects our advanced ideas about governance and society...
    DMTxTHCjonoSoloman_The_WiseAjackson17Krazy Kicksragetwatgetta
  • TooGoodTooGood Posts: 31
    I agree with that logic somewhat. Parts of the Constitution are irrelevant. Also there are some parts that cannot address the issues that are goin on today, such as immigration, birth control, healthcare reform, etc.
    The guys who wrote it were thinking of the issues in their reality, not ours.
  • Young_ChitlinYoung_Chitlin YCN Chief, FCC Member, IC Task Force General ASUville, PhoenixPosts: 12,614 ✭✭✭✭✭
    With the power our current government has, what's not to say a hypothetical new constitution will be flexible enough for new amendments/alterations??
  • janklowjanklow god's lonely man. Posts: 6,106 Regulator
    whar wrote: »
    This argument can be applied to the strict constitutionalists. A desire to overturn a series of "bad" decision by judges with strict observance of the Constitution being the facilitating force.
    of course. but this article is not about them. and somehow i suspect this guy finds their positions outrageous.
    Stopitfive wrote: »
    there is no reason why a civilization as educated as ours cant draft a new constitution that reflects our advanced ideas about governance and society...
    ...or you could go ahead and attempt to amend it like it's been amended before. why is that a problem?

    PlutarchSoloman_The_Wise
  • janklow wrote: »
    whar wrote: »
    This argument can be applied to the strict constitutionalists. A desire to overturn a series of "bad" decision by judges with strict observance of the Constitution being the facilitating force.
    of course. but this article is not about them. and somehow i suspect this guy finds their positions outrageous.
    Stopitfive wrote: »
    there is no reason why a civilization as educated as ours cant draft a new constitution that reflects our advanced ideas about governance and society...
    ...or you could go ahead and attempt to amend it like it's been amended before. why is that a problem?
    because alot of people make it a problem. i'm not saying we scrap the constituition, but some people need to stop treating this thing like the 10 commandments.
  • twatgettatwatgetta Posts: 6,718 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Stopitfive wrote: »
    there is no reason why a civilization as educated as ours cant draft a new constitution that reflects our advanced ideas about governance and society...

    THAT would include adding China as a 85% benefactor in all of our affairs going forward since they own 80% of our economy already.

    you want that? think again.
  • janklowjanklow god's lonely man. Posts: 6,106 Regulator
    because alot of people make it a problem.
    how do a lot of people making amending the constitution a problem?
    i'm not saying we scrap the constituition, but some people need to stop treating this thing like the 10 commandments.
    again, if you think the constitution needs to be changed, there's a process for it, and it's been used many times before. the options are not limited to "throw the whole thing out" and "never touch it again."

  • poindexter2poindexter2 Posts: 4,257 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Treaty of Verona>>>US Constitution
    Soloman_The_Wise
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