Patterico's Pontifications

7/13/2011

Day Fifteen of Stengel-gate: The National Constitution Center Ducks the Issue

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:33 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Background: a few weeks back Time magazine published, as its cover story, an article by Richard Stengel.  Reading it, I was stunned to discover fourteen clear factual errors in his piece, and I have been on a bit of a crusade since then to force Time to either correct or retract the article.  And I have been examining how other media outlets and organizations have treated Stengel.

One of the things that bothered me in particular about Richard Stengel was his association with the National Constitution Center.  As I wrote at the time:

The author is not only the Managing Editor for Time, but he spent two years as President and CEO of the National Constitution Center.  And even today, he works with the National Constitution Center’s Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution, whose stated mission is “to help both professional journalists and students interested in journalism understand constitutional issues more deeply.”  That is right.  He is there to help journalists understand the Constitution better.

So I decided to write to David Eisner, head of the National Constitution Center and see if they had any opinion on the rank incompetence on display.  As you might recall I asked him two questions:

First, what is Mr. Stengel’s exact role in the National Constitution Center?  Specifically, does he teach others about the Constitution?

Second, does the National Constitution Center have any official statement regarding the serial inaccuracies that appeared in Time, a national magazine, regarding the Constitution?

He wrote back to me with a brief “we’re working on it” message (that’s my gloss, not a quote) and I waited patiently.

Well, their response has finally come, in the form of an official post at their blog.  In a post entitled “Weigh in on Time’s Controversial Constitution Issue” simply notes that there is a controversy, but for the most part they refuse to take sides.  So you get this one ridiculous passage:

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Terror Strikes Mumbai

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 4:36 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

This time it was a triple bombing, leaving 21 killed and 113 injured:

Three near-simultaneous explosions have shaken India’s commercial capital Mumbai (Bombay), police say.

Twenty-one people were killed and 113 injured, said Maharashtra state’s Chief Minister, Prithviraj Chavan.

He called the explosions, during Mumbai’s busy evening rush-hour, “a co-ordinated attack by terrorists”.

One explosion was reported in the Zaveri Bazaar, another in the Opera House business district and a third in Dadar district in the city centre.

Police sources were reported as saying the explosions were caused by home-made bombs.

The attacks are the deadliest in Mumbai since November 2008 when 10 gunmen launched a three-day co-ordinated raid in which 166 people were killed.

(source for image)

By the way, a thought question for the left.  The left always claims that Islamofascist terrorism is motivated by oppression.  But if that is the case, why are they carrying out their attacks in almost every country in the world?  Why is it that they find some excuse to kill everywhere?

No, no, this is about spreading their fascist interpretation of Islam.  Nothing more, nothing less.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Yes Newt, There IS a Supreme Court in the Constitution

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:51 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

This is a case of getting something wrong, while saying something (arguably) right and unlike Ann Althouse, I am not giving Newt Gingrich a pass on this.  Here’s what he said, in context:

In the American system, if you read the Constitution correctly — this is why I wrote “A Nation Like No Other” — if you read the Federalist Papers correctly, the fact is the Congress can pass a law and can limit the Court’s jurisdiction. It’s written directly in the Constitution. The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton promises, I think it’s Number 78, that the judiciary branch is the weakest of the three branches. There is no Supreme Court in the American Constitution. There’s the court which is the Supreme of the judicial branch, but it’s not supreme over the legislative and executive branch. We now have this entire national elite that wants us to believe that any five lawyers are a Constitutional convention. That is profoundly un-American and profoundly wrong.

(emphasis by Althouse.)  So the larger paragraph is making this point: the Supreme Court does not have the power to command.  Especially in the beginning of this republic, judicial review wasn’t designed to be a method of rebuking the other branches, it was sort of a judicial civil disobedience: they were refusing to enforce a law, because they believed it was contrary to the Constitution.  Since the courts are very often a necessary part of any legal regime, it meant effectively that if they said a law was unconstitutional, it would be in fact a worthless dead letter.

But the fact is that the Supreme Court is in the Constitution, almost by name.  For instance, here’s from Article I, Section 3:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

It is interesting that the Constitution didn’t require the use of the title Supreme Court.  It could have been the “High Court of the Federal Republic” or just the “Ministry of Silly Walks” and as long as it was supreme in the judicial branch, that was adequate.  Which only serves to highlight the weakness of Althouse’s defense:

It’s obvious to me — as a law professor who has studied and taught Article III of the Constitution for 25 years — that Gingrich is not denying that the Constitution provides for a Supreme Court. He’s denying the supremacy of that Court over the other branches. He’s stressing the checks on the judicial branch, which include Congress’s power to make “Exceptions and… Regulations” to the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, and the idea that the Supreme Court is not the sole voice in the interpretation of constitutional law. This is routine stuff in a Conlaw I class. It’s what we conventionally talk about along with Marbury v. Madison. It’s not the slightest bit edgy, believe me….

He knows there’s a Supreme Court. It’s just not, in fact, supreme over everything.

But in the language of the Constitution, you can declare a court to be “supreme” without referencing any kind of domination of the other branches.  And bluntly I am not sure Gingrich is aware of all of this.  My feeling is that this is a case of Gingrich’s mouth getting ahead of the facts.  In any case, saying something that is inaccurate in order to make a larger point that might be accurate is still being inaccurate.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]


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