Roger F. Gay
Consider that liberal/socialist/progressives hate the American Constitution as much as they hate God, Jesus Christ, the bible and Christians. Between the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, much less tossing into the mix the Constitution of every one of the fifty states – we find these mention God, Jesus Christ as Our Lord, and that the Constriction from its inception was designed to prevent American Citizens from become servantile to an ungodly and unjust government. The Constitution of the
The battle in many ways mirror the battle that was fought over the bible in the hands of the common believer 1780 years ago in the year of Our Lord 230 in early Church.
Last week liberal socialist wrote who can understand the constitution today with all of its old fashion language that was written over “100” years [Actually over 200 years] ago.
I'm a little amazed at the number of hits you can get googling for anti-Constitution arguments. Once past that amazement, I'm not so amazed by the unimaginative, unthinking, often downright stupidity of the repeated talking points and mindless personal attacks from the left, currently aimed against the left's current biggest boogie-man; the TEA Party.
At the War Room, Michael Lind says Let's stop pretending the Constitution is sacred and claims that Freedom rests on a culture of constitutionalism, not a particular document. That almost sounds right. In WSJ, Roger Pilon argues brilliantly that in order to maintain freedom, there is a need to continue focused debate on the Constitution. But it's difficult to imagine Michael Lind's vision of a culture of constitutionalism without a Constitution.
Somewhere in the midst of a circuitous argument intended to cast TEA Partiers and others who aren't members of his cult as stupid southern racists – especially if they're Protestant - Lind manages to choke out just what you'd expect – ye old “living document” dogma. And if you're not convinced of its wisdom, just ask the foreigners.
The blending of Protestant fundamentalism
and neoclassical Legislator-worship explains the semi-religious reverence with
which the Founders or Framers or Fathers of the Constitution have long been
discussed in the
At Newsweek, where writers are too cowardly to sign their work, the article America’s Holy Writ says Tea Party evangelists claim the Constitution as their sacred text and promises to tell us Why that’s wrong. The words “sacred text” appear to be from the Newsweek writers themselves, as they are never actually attributed (in quotes) to anyone. The authors associate their characterization with 2010 Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, who says (in quotes) “American values” and “There are more of us than there are of them.” (Newsweek writers added – no quotes – “enshrined in our sacred text” after “American values.”)
But I suppose the only thing more boring than Newsweek's continuous stream of misrepresentations and twisted attacks is reading an article explaining them to you. (The link is given above if you want to read the article yourself.) Don't be surprised when Newsweek also blames “fundamentalism” - you know, those stupid southern racists that make up the Tea Party. Like Lind, Newsweek thinks it all wrong because Protestants are stupid.
At The Economist, someone named PRINT EDITION penned an article entitled The perils of
constitution-worship. PRINT EDITION
claims One of the guiding principles of the
tea-party movement is based on a myth. His or her argument is that the
Constitution doesn't say whether homosexuals can marry or what the founding
fathers would have made of the modern welfare state. PRINT EDITION seems
certain this is an intelligent argument, for it is inspired by the writings of
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post carries on PRINT EDITION's legacy with an article titled The Tea Party does not own the Constitution. Whether the assertion is correct or not, he makes it no clearer why this would invalidate the document. Instead, he quotes a “legal scolar” (sic) who's written some gibberish claiming the Constitution is a “forward looking” (read politically progressive) document intended to maximize federal power.
I've left the most fanatic, dogmatic, goof-ball
extremist fundamentalists of the left to last. Samuel G. Freedman writes “On Religion” in an article titled; Tea Party Rooted in Religious Fervor for Constitution. Freedman is a
Freedman noted that a reverend who attended a Tea Party activity in
Managing to at least spell “scholars” correctly,
Freedman claims the term du jour is “Constitution worship.” (Maybe his
law professor – see below – can get together with Michael Klarman
on whether it's “worship” or “idolatry”? I think “idolatry” does more to
mocking religious people.) For him, the problems of religion and not being part
of his cult “long predate the Tea Party,” apparently all the way back to the
time of Jesus. “Some trace back to the implicit spirituality of
Freedman's law professor is Sanford Levinson at
Well, that proves it I guess. Now if we can just figure the oil companies into this and work out how George Bush is to blame …
Coming Out of the Closet on the Constitution?
We have written many times about the Progressive movement and its open hostility toward both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We have also noted that modern progressives have generally had the good political sense to keep their opinions about the Constitution to themselves, beyond whatever critique is implicit in terming it a "living" document that is liable to call forth previously unknown "rights" at any moment.
Today's New York Times editorializes on the Republican takeover of the House. You could paraphrase the editorial as "wah-wah-wah;" the paper basically cries over its party's November defeat. But in the course of doing so, the editorialists are surprisingly open about their contempt for the Constitution:
A theatrical production of unusual pomposity will open on Wednesday when Republicans assume control of the House for the 112th Congress. A rule will be passed requiring that every bill cite its basis in the Constitution. A bill will be introduced to repeal the health care law. On Thursday, the Constitution will be read aloud in the House chamber.
Those who had hoped to see a glimpse of the much-advertised Republican plan to revive the economy and put Americans back to work will have to wait at least until party leaders finish their Beltway insider ritual of self-glorification. Then, they may find time for governing.
Needless to say, the Times did not adopt a similarly surly attitude in January 2007, when Nancy Pelosi took over the helm in the House. The editorial continues:
The empty gestures are officially intended to set a new tone in Washington, to demonstrate -- presumably to the Republicans' Tea Party supporters -- that things are about to be done very differently. But it is far from clear what message is being sent by, for instance, reading aloud the nation's foundational document. Is this group of Republicans really trying to suggest that they care more deeply about the Constitution than anyone else and will follow it more closely?
Well, yeah. Actually paying attention to the Constitution would be a change. But now the Times shows its true colors:
In any case, it is a presumptuous and self-righteous act, suggesting that they alone understand the true meaning of a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation. Certainly the Republican leadership is not trying to suggest that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person.
Presumptuous to read the
Constitution out loud? Seriously? And, in fact, the founders didn't eave the
Constitution "open to generations of reinterpretation;" they provided
for the document to be changed by amendment. But most revealing is the Times'
hauling out the old three/fifths chestnut, much beloved by liberals who despise
the Constitution. Never mind that the point of that provision, insisted upon by
representatives of the
There is a similar air of vacuous fundamentalism in requiring that every bill cite the Constitutional power given to Congress to enact it.
Contemplate that phrase for a moment--"vacuous fundamentalism." So citation of Constitutional authority is "fundamentalism?" And why is it "vacuous" for legislators to consider whether proposed legislation does, in fact, have a basis in the Constitution? Isn't this one of their most basic duties?
The new House leadership says this is necessary because the health care law and other measures that Republicans do not like have veered from the Constitution. But it is the judiciary that ultimately decides when a law is unconstitutional, not the transitory occupant of the speaker's chair.
Maybe instead of jeering at the Constitution, the
Times editors should read it. Nowhere does it say or imply that
constitutionality is the sole concern of the judicial branch. On the contrary,
the Constitution gives the judiciary no special role with respect to
determining the Constitutional validity of legislation or executive actions.
Article I says, further, that Congress may "make all Laws which shall be
necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all
other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United
States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." This places a clear duty
on Congress to determine that the legislation it enacts is consonant with the
"Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the
The Republicans' antics are a ghastly waste of time at a moment when the nation is expecting real leadership from Congress, and suggest that the new House leadership is still unable to make tough choices. Voters, no less than drama critics, prefer substance to overblown theatrics.
It's nice to see that the Times has
such a sense of urgency, but I don't think the paper needs to worry. Reading
the Constitution will take considerably less time than the near-filibuster that
Nancy Pelosi delivered before handing the House gavel over to Speaker John
Boehner. The Republicans will be on to substance soon enough. I doubt, however,
that will make the Times editorialists any happier than contemplating the
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
And the Founders said: Let there be a constitution. And the Founders looked at the articles and clauses and saw that it was good.
For more than 200 years, Americans have revered the Constitution as the law of the land, but the GOP and tea party heralding of the document in recent months - and the planned recitation on the House floor Thursday - have caused some Democrats to worry that the charter is being misconstrued as the immutable word of God.
"They are reading it like a sacred text," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the outgoing chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties, who has studied and memorized the Constitution with talmudic intensity. Nadler called the "ritualistic reading"[Of the Constitution] on the floor "total nonsense" and "propaganda" intended to claim the document for Republicans. "You read the Torah, you read the Bible, you build a worship service around it," said Nadler, who argued that the Founders were not "demigods" and that the document's need for amendments to abolish slavery and other injustices showed it was "highly imperfect."
"You are not supposed to worship your constitution. You are supposed to govern your government by it," he said.
But exalting the Constitution is hardly new. Constitutional scholars and historians say the document has occupied a nearly spiritual sphere for Americans practically since its ratification.
"It has an immediate and obvious parallel to how you interpret the Bible," said Noah Feldman, a law professor and constitutional scholar at Harvard.
"The Constitution is seen as both the source
and the product of God's blessing on the
In his first presidential inaugural address, George Washington divined the invisible hand of providence in the nation's creation, a pervasive belief, Green said, that imbued the Constitution with a "quasi-scriptural" quality. The perceived majesty of the document has waxed and waned over time, but after a sweeping Republican Party victory in the November midterms, it is conservative and tea party members who are most vocal in extolling its restorative powers.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a frequent exalter of the Constitution, said Thursday's reading is a logical reaction to a campaign that was explicitly run on its principles. She said she believes the Constitution is a guide to paring down expansive government powers. "The words of the Constitution mean what they say they mean," she said. She described the Constitution as "the organic, original document" that "gives life to a nation."
"It's not on the same level as a sacred text that God would hand down to the faithful," said Bachmann, specifying the the document was "secular" and intended to provide parameters for the branches of government. But, she added, religious inspiration had a role in the document's drafting. "Those who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were themselves devout individuals - primarily in their Christian faith," she said, arguing that the product was "reflective of their sincerely held beliefs."
Bruce Ackerman, a Sterling professor of law and political science at Yale, expressed a different view about the motivating spirit of the Founders.
"They are steeped in Enlightenment classical
culture. They want a reestablishment of Republicanism through acts of
reason," he said. "This is deeply inconsistent with the rote reading
of a text as if it were handed down from
Differing interpretations of the intentions of the Founders and the meaning of the text are virtually as old as the Constitution.
The document's genius, according to many scholars,
is its often purposeful ambiguity - what Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale law professor and author of "
But some Democrats and constitutional scholars said the tea party has an atemporal view of the document that ignores the monumental changes of the Civil War, the New Deal and the civil rights era.
Ackerman said the events of the constitutional convention showed that the Constitution resulted from a "pro-tax rebellion" on the part of Federalists who thought the Articles of Confederation lacked enough power to raise taxes to pay the nation's considerable war debts.
Nadler agreed. "A lot of the tea party people, I wonder how many of them have read the Constitution," he said. "A lot of them, they seem to think the Constitution is the Articles of Confederation."
Nadler said he anticipates a raft of "idiotic amendments" from Republicans, such as an effort to allow states to nullify acts of Congress, that would blatantly violate the Constitution.
Suspicious and mocking as Nadler was of the Republicans' motivation for reading aloud what he affectionately characterized as "a long, dry, boring document with details about how Congress will have power to lay imposts and taxes," he agreed with other constitutional experts, and even the tea party, that there was a potential benefit.
"Maybe," he said, "it will be a little educational."