December 31, 2012

NYT Op-ed: ‘Let’s Give Up on the Constitution’

Well, at least we know one of the New Year’s resolutions on a certain radical professor’s list. That resolution, undermining the Constitution whenver and wherever possible to serve the “progressive” agenda, has been on the list of the paper for which this professor wrote for quite a while.

On Sunday, in a New York Times op-ed (“Let’s Give Up on the Constitution”) which appeared in today’s print edition, Louis Michael Seidman, a professor of constitutional law (seriously) at Georgetown University, and the author of the forthcoming book “On Constitutional Disobedience” (given the conduct of the Obama administration, it’s hard to understand why such a book is even neceeary is a mystery), wrote that “our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.” Here’s more of what we will likely see from other quarters in the new year:

Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?

… As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?

Constitutional disobedience may seem radical, but it is as old as the Republic. In fact, the Constitution itself was born of constitutional disobedience. When George Washington and the other framers went to Philadelphia in 1787, they were instructed to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation, which would have had to be ratified by the legislatures of all 13 states. Instead, in violation of their mandate, they abandoned the Articles, wrote a new Constitution and provided that it would take effect after ratification by only nine states, and by conventions in those states rather than the state legislatures.

… IN the face of this long history of disobedience (by past president and courts — Ed.), it is hard to take seriously the claim by the Constitution’s defenders that we would be reduced to a Hobbesian state of nature if we asserted our freedom from this ancient text. Our sometimes flagrant disregard of the Constitution has not produced chaos or totalitarianism; on the contrary, it has helped us to grow and prosper.

This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.

Anyone who believes that ignoring the Constitution has been a net positive influence simply hasn’t been paying attention, isn’t really interested in the personal freedoms it is supposed to guarantee, and certainly doesn’t understand the document’s relationship to the its foundation, the Declaration of Independence, and the God-given (not state-given) rights it enshrines.

I’ll be impressed with Seidman’s convictions when he resigns from his con law perch at Georgetown, and not a moment sooner. Otherwise, the prof stands as a world-class hypocrite.

While we’re at it, let’s cast aside those Ten Pesky Commandments, too. After all, a lot of people don’t do a very good job of following them, so they too must be an utter waste of parchment.

Cross-posted at



  1. such as honor your father and your mother. What does that mean in a modern world?
    It really is too late. As long as the general welfare means anything the fed deems it to be, the fundamental principle of limiting federal powers has been lost. The Founders would be less bothered by this man’s drivel than by what we have let the federal government become, and where they know it will lead.

    Comment by Jim — January 1, 2013 @ 8:58 am

  2. [...] at Read more: -blumer/2012/12/31/nyt-op-ed-let-s-give-constitution [...]

    Pingback by New York Times: “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution” « Peace and Freedom — January 2, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

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