Patterico's Pontifications

11/19/2016

Why the Constitution Matters — for Dummies

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:32 pm



I don’t really mean “for dummies” — that’s just a simple way of capturing the concept in a headline. What I mean to do in this post is offer a couple of simple arguments for the importance of the Constitution, that you can try out on anyone, no matter their level of sophistication.

I was inspired by the spirit of Andrea Ruth’s post with that eye-catching map of why the Electoral College matters. (Check it out if you haven’t already seen it on social media.) I don’t have any awesome infographics, unfortunately . . . but I do have a couple of arguments for the importance of the Constitution that I tried out on my 16-year-old daughter, and they seemed to convince her.

I suggest trying these two simple arguments with any reasonable and open-minded people you know who are skeptics of the importance of the Constitution:

1. The principles of the Founding Fathers helped eliminate slavery. My daughter, who asked me why the Constitution was important, was at first a bit impatient with me when I started with this one. What did this have to do with the importance of the Constitution, she wanted to know. But I knew that “the Founding Fathers were racist slaveholders, so who cares what they thought!!!” is the war cry of the left, and I wanted to get it out of the way immediately.

So I explained that slavery has been part of the human condition since humans first existed. I made sure she understood that the philosophy that supported the abolition of slavery in many parts of the world was a Western philosophy. I told her that many of the anti-slavery precepts of liberty and individuality that underpin our free society were developed in England and the early United States. I explained that the United States and the ideas of the Founders has been a far greater force for liberty than for slavery, and played an important role in eliminating slavery from the world . . . although it’s still not completely gone.

With that out of the way, I asked her the important question:

2. Would you support a dictator who agrees with your policies? If not, why not?

My daughter believes in things like gay rights, equality of the races, and so forth — and it frustrates her that it took so long for these things to be recognized under the Constitution. She started the conversation, therefore, seeing the Constitution as an impediment to getting to the “right” result. Many people on the left, and independents, feel the same way. Even some on the right do.

This question helps drive home the idea that it’s not just important what happens, but how you get there.

You ask your friend: “So you believe in policy x, y, and z. If you could have a dictator who agreed with you on all three policies . . . or a President under the Constitution who agreed with you on x, but disagreed on y and z, which would you pick?”

Then take the argument from there. At some point they may discuss how inflexible the Constitution is. Remind them that it can be changed, and has been changed more than two dozen times. Yes, we started out with blacks being unequal — but we fixed that, with an amendment. Yes, we started out with women not being able to vote — but we fixed that, with an amendment.

Isn’t that better than a dictator?

If you try these simple arguments out on reasonable and open-minded people, and approach the conversation in a spirit of respect and friendliness, you might get somewhere.

P.S. This is part of my ongoing project, the Constitutional Vanguard. The goal of the project is to spread the gospel of the Constitution, liberty, and free markets. If you’re interested in joining, you can sign up here. We spent the last week discussing Article V, and I have more coming on educational resources on these topics.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

70 Responses to “Why the Constitution Matters — for Dummies”

  1. i don’t get it

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  2. Funny.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  3. it frustrates her that it took so long for these things to be recognized under the Constitution

    mostly this “recognition” and “so forth” happened in the courts

    and Rs were disgusted every time

    disgusted and appalled

    just like how they were with gay marriage

    we be poppin off tops in the hot tub make a few waves that’s enuff said

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  4. The Constitution ain’t perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better than what we have now.

    ropelight (1b2921)

  5. mostly this “recognition” and “so forth” happened in the courts

    Of gay rights, yes. Of the races, no.

    And I was disgusted by gay rights being conferred in the courts, even though I support them.

    Again: it matters how you get there.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  6. The Constitution ain’t perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better than what we have now.

    Heh. That’s why I have been pushing Article V conventions lately.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  7. we see clearer in the rear view mirror than we ever did lookin out over the hood

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  8. The thing that drives this craziness we see, Patterico, is (just my opinion) the weird narcissism of our time, coupled with a awe-inspiring lack of historical knowledge.

    I like to ask people, when they get all irritable, if the ends justify the means? I couch it in terms of things of which they approve, then repeat the “ends justify the means” bit.

    Then I ask them who else has taken that position in history?

    No, the truth of the matter is that people never, ever consider their “enemies” having the power they want wielded to do something they find desirable.

    So it is horrible to see the courts push something by fiat, even if you agree with the outcome. Why? Because those same courts might push something by fiat you do not like!

    I’m amazed how few people “get” that. It is sort of like the Electoral College nonsense at present. Folks on the Left are carrying on about—-because they want a result different from what they got. Not because they truly believe in what they are saying.

    Hypocrites.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  9. Mr happyfeet, the problem is that so many of our #NeverTrump friends claim to hold a Magic Eight Ball which enables them to see 50 miles down the road. (LOL)

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  10. Couple of points:
    1) Your daughter was raised in a sane, stable house where Constitutional values were already understood and respected. I expect a bit of pushback from a 16 Y.O.- after all, Churchill’s famous quip applies here. I should not be surprised at all she is at least Constitutionally curious. This brings me to point…
    2) I have a few acquaintances who are more Patrick Star than Patrick Frey. I can try your arguments here, but I’m left to wonder if it would actually impress them.

    Oh- since I’m thinking about it. You were asking if your emails were winding up in the spam folder. On my service, some were, some were’t. I’ve checked the box that says “not junk” with your address, I hope that clears it up. I’ll keep an eye out, I can take stronger measures if needed.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  11. Mr happyfeet, the problem is that so many of our #NeverTrump friends claim to hold a Magic Eight Ball which enables them to see 50 miles down the road. (LOL)

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a) — 11/19/2016 @ 2:12 pm

    What you don’t seem to get, CS is that past performance over a long career is a pretty good indicator of what we are about to receive. Not that it matters, now that Trump is #45. We’ll all see just how well “I told you so” applies once we’ve actually gone the 50 miles down that road.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  12. i hope someone brought snacks

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  13. I think what most people don’t get about the constitution is its a bill of negative rights for the federal government, while the bill of rights are positive rights for individual citizens. Meanwhile, those rights not expressly authorized to the Fed’s are left to the states.

    It all went to hell with the creation of the central bank and the imposition of income taxes (in 1910? Somewhere around then) IMHO, and has been going down the drain ever since.

    Now we find ourselves being fined if we don’t wear a seat belt, and taxed if we don’t purchase a product (thanks Obamacare, how long before we are fined if we don’t brush our teeth twice a day?).

    Our constitution has been so corrupted for most of our population it is just a vague concept about the president is our master and we have an individual right to not be offended. This is why people are so tweaked about Trump. Our governance was meant to be almost totally local, but we have given far off Washington with no empathy with the common man so much power over our lives it’s horrifying. And the perception of such even more so.

    Add in the loss of the virtues of self reliance and individual responsibility, plus the utter failure of our education system to properly educate, and I am left with very pessimistic hopes for any return to true liberty. Like the man said, our constitution isn’t adequate for the present generation.

    Don’t mean we shouldn’t try though…

    LBascom (1cae03)

  14. When people say they are for “gay rights”
    Does that mean you favor gays being free to do what they want to do on their own?
    Or that they have the authority to force others to enable them?

    In the past it was often argued, “Just how will my SS marriage affect you”?
    And many people thought, “I guess so.”
    How many people think it should be a thought crime to believe that heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are not fully equivalent?

    I read a good article recently on what “freedom of/for/from religion means in US history.
    Some in the federal government think that they are worthy arbiters of what is a sincerely held religious belief and what is evil discrimination and bigotry masquerading as religious faith.

    In one way I don’t care how it comes out, persecution for Christian belief is to be expected,
    but for some reason, I would like the public to know what they are choosing.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  15. The principles of the Founding Fathers helped eliminate slavery

    The Declaration of Independence doomed it. By making the core ideology of the nation centered on human freedom as endowed by a Creator, independent of laws and the State, slavery’s days were always numbered. The northern states were outlawing it almost immediately — Franklin led the movement in Pennsylvania.

    The slave holding states knew they were doomed, too. The whole antebellum history is about the South jockeying for position to avoid abolition. When Lincoln was elected they knew the day was coming and they tried to quit.

    The Civil War was not about ending slavery, it was about keeping it. And they lost.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  16. i hope someone brought snacks

    happyfeet (28a91b) — 11/19/2016 @ 2:37 pm

    Funny you mention that. I was at Costco this morning, one of the things I got was a jar of mixed nuts. I have that, cans of lime sparkling water, or fresh iced tea (unsweetened) if you prefer.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  17. #11 Bill H,

    What you don’t get is that it wasn’t a choice between Trump and Cruz or Reagan or Coolidge.
    It was a choice between Trump and Hillary.

    So far, we’ve heard that Mike Pompeo will run CIA, Jeff Sessions will run DoJ, maybe Richard Grenell will be the Ambassador to the U.N., and maybe John Bolton will run State.
    That’s light years better than we’d get if Hillary had won.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  18. Would you support a dictator who agrees with your policies? If not, why not?

    But we have that now. Not a dictator but an indirectly elected junta of 9 people, dictators-for-life.

    And it’s a fallible system. Sure, they came up with Brown vs Board and Loving and Heller, but they also brought us Dred Scott, Cruikshank and Plessy.

    A better question is, giving some pressing issue, “Would you support a military coup to set things right?”

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  19. The Civil War was not about ending slavery, it was about keeping it. And they lost.

    Kevin M (25bbee) — 11/19/2016 @ 2:53 pm

    Considering when the Declaration and the Constitution were both written, it actually didn’t take very long for the abolition of slavery. Whatever happened after that in the aftermath of the Civil War was primarily the Democrats throwing a deadly temper tantrum that finally petered out 100 years later.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  20. That’s light years better than we’d get if Hillary had won.

    I want to hear who the IRS special prosecutor will be. About 20 people need to go to directly to prison, not passing GO and not collecting a pension.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  21. What you don’t get is that it wasn’t a choice between Trump and Cruz or Reagan or Coolidge.
    It was a choice between Trump and Hillary.

    So far, we’ve heard that Mike Pompeo will run CIA, Jeff Sessions will run DoJ, maybe Richard Grenell will be the Ambassador to the U.N., and maybe John Bolton will run State.
    That’s light years better than we’d get if Hillary had won.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a) — 11/19/2016 @ 2:56 pm

    You didn’t bother reading my comment, did you? The election has been litigated. It’s over. You can stop with your childish attacks on people you don’t agree with.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  22. Bill,

    There are so, so many Trumpists who believe in wining ugly. The man himself is willing to make peace with his critics, but the yap dogs still yap.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  23. i hate going to Hamilton they’re so mean

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  24. Aye, Kevin.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  25. it’s like the broadway soup nazi anymore

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  26. Bill H, I read your comment. It was just like so many of your other comments; “TRUMP SUCKS!”

    But Trump’s going to nominate some pretty good folks to important positions.
    These folks are better than the folks that Hillary would have nominated. That’s the entire point.
    As you know, the election was a choice between Trump and Hillary.

    I’m thrilled that Trump defeated her. Christmas will be good!
    Pudding and eggnog for America!

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  27. i love it

    pudding especially

    it’s so good

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  28. One of the problems is the court, has usurped the amendment function and that of statutes.

    narciso (d1f714)

  29. “yes yes it’s become very taxing,” sighed John Roberts pervishly

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  30. From “A Man for All Seasons”:

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

    Roscoe (d9df47)

  31. I liked wolf hall, because of it’s revisionist take on Cromwell, referred to by bannon, on the previous thread,the worst character is henry tudor, a willfull sovereign who dispatched all of his minions, Woolsey, More, Tyndall (the fellow who gave him the notion of separation from the church)
    and ultimately Cromwell himself,

    so the constitution, is not operating according to plan, is the real point,

    narciso (d1f714)

  32. Pudding and eggnog for America!

    And anyone who won’t eat his pudding and drink all his eggnog is a Secret Hillary Supporter and a Traitor to America. Right?

    gwjd (032bef)

  33. Of course you get the dictator! He’s a good person! He wants to do x and y and z which are desired by all good people who want good things. And the people who disagree are bad people who should be shamed and persecuted so that everyone knows they are bad. And we will do our best to keep our good dictator in power forever, and when he can’t serve any more we’ll get another one of the good people to be our dictator.

    Gabriel Hanna (905cbf)

  34. It was just like so many of your other comments; “TRUMP SUCKS!”

    It’s also like so many of Patterico’s Dana’s, Kevin M’s, Simon Jester’s, and so on. However, and here’s the important point for all you window lickers out in the audience, we get it. Your guy won. As I tried to point out twice now, I understand he is Prez number 45. No do-overs, no mulligans, no recounts. I personally think he is a vile man. NO MATTER This is what I have to work with now. Why you feel so strongly that you have to ankle-bite, I haven’t a clue.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  35. and therein you find how Athens and rome eventually fell, from pericles to the council of 300, from cincinattus to Caesar.

    narciso (d1f714)

  36. 45 yes yes yes that’s the highest number yet!

    sux 2 b u lol

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  37. Good stuff, Patterico. Do more like this. Make it a weekly post.

    Jcurtis (ca32b1)

  38. Again: it matters how you get there.

    Just another brick in Trump’s wall.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  39. “although it’s still not completely gone.”

    Is that your lead into explaining the concept of debt slavery as it pertains to children soon to be fitted for the serf collar they will be wearing for the rest of their lives? After all, her per capita share is currently $60K and should she choose production over parasitism it will jump to $180K and rise by $9-10K for every additional trillion Uncle Sugars borrows.

    She’s going to get to know debt slavery very well over the course of her involuntary servitude.

    Rick Ballard (d17095)

  40. As I tried to point out twice now, I understand he is Prez number 45. No do-overs, no mulligans, no recounts. I personally think he is a vile man.

    To paraphrase someone:

    For now, I will assume he is a good man. He is my President. He is our President. And while he hasn’t always done good, I will assume he is fundamentally a good man and a patriot who wants to make this country a better place.

    This doesn’t necessarily transfer to all of his supporters.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  41. Although I am willing to consider a constitutional amendment barring presidents from using Twitter.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  42. Oh- since I’m thinking about it. You were asking if your emails were winding up in the spam folder. On my service, some were, some were’t. I’ve checked the box that says “not junk” with your address, I hope that clears it up. I’ll keep an eye out, I can take stronger measures if needed.

    Thanks, Bill!

    Patterico (115b1f)

  43. Good stuff, Patterico. Do more like this. Make it a weekly post.

    Thank you!

    Patterico (115b1f)

  44. … mostly this “recognition” and “so forth” happened in the courts and Rs were disgusted every time …

    So sayeth hf @3.

    The courts had very little to do with the unpleasantness the country experienced between 1861 and 1865. How on earth can anyone ignore what happened then? Talk about turning points! The end of slavery and the transcontinental railroad were some of the little things accomplished. And you ignore the alternative to the “R”s following this unpleasantness, which, of course, were the “D”s who based their power on the KKK in the South and inner city machines in the North. But instead, today, you glory on perverts being given access to the girls’ locker room, a singularly emblematic accomplishment for the progressive movement.

    Pathetic.

    BobStewartatHome (b2bab4)

  45. the courts, have become the panel of lizards@scott adams, they don’t bother with legislation except when it is doubleunplusgood like doma, and initiatives like sb 1070, prop 8, or prop 187, they override precedent as in the detainee case, and find new rationales as with #dred pirate robertscare.

    narciso (d1f714)

  46. LBascom and Doc, my preference for the most important intellectual error responsible for today’s constitutional problems is the decision by the Supreme Court that the interstate commerce clause can be use to intrude into any aspect of our lives, no matter how small. Baking a cake is not beyond their intervention. And this folly is based on profound stupidity and ignorance. That most senile idiot, Ginsberg, seems to think that the central government can plan our economic prosperity, and therefore any Congressional action that she considers “good social policy” is “constitutional.” If central planning had any beneficial outcomes for a society, the Soviet Union would not have collapsed. Indeed, if central planning was a good idea, the perennial call for “investment” in “infrastructure” would not be the singular common denominator of left- and right wing demagogues in our increasingly socialist government. And more importantly, this simplistic focus on material measures of wellbeing are disproven by everyday life. Can anyone go to a zoo and not commiserate with the caged animals? Does anyone wonder whether an owl, which might live 13 years in the wild, would prefer a life span of 30 years in a cage to its freedom? We are not bacteria cultured in a petri dish, despite the aspirations of lefties everywhere.

    BobStewartatHome (b2bab4)

  47. Just another brick in Trump’s wall.

    Kevin M (25bbee) — 11/19/2016 @ 6:01 pm

    Can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat :)

    Bill H (971e5f)

  48. The constitution is important because it’s what gives the United States the right to exist, Congress teh right to make laws, the president the right to govern, and the federal courts the right to rule. Without it none of those people would have any right to tell anyone else what to do. That’s why when they do anything the constitution doesn’t give them the right to do it’s cause to be angry; because if they’re going to ignore the constitution then who the hell are they?

    Milhouse (40ca7b)

  49. I expect a bit of pushback from a 16 Y.O.- after all, Churchill’s famous quip applies here.

    Not Churchill’s. The culprit is François Guizot, who said, “Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head.”

    Milhouse (40ca7b)

  50. remember the person in the link, from last week,

    https://twitter.com/RichardGrenell/status/800104726700269569

    narciso (d1f714)

  51. My daughter believes in things like gay rights, equality of the races, and so forth — and it frustrates her that it took so long for these things to be recognized under the Constitution

    They weren’t recognized under the Constitution. I hope you corrected her on that.

    The Supreme Court cannot call a dog’s tail a leg and magically create a 5 legged dog.

    NJRob (a07d2e)

  52. The only thing I know is that if half of the things the left is saying Trump will do to minorities, the disenfranchised, the LGBQT community, the Religion of Peace or whomever is offended by his election, I will exercise my second amendment right to defend them.

    Except, nobody really believes he would do anything of the sort. It is all virtue-signaling.

    The sad part, though, is none of those people who I would defend to my death would lift a finger to protect me if the roles were reversed.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  53. Look, the Constitution is over a hundred years old and just not relevant. It was never more than a tool of oppression. A truly just government would work like this:

    Good people, people who believe good things, get to make all the decisions. Bad people, the people who do not believe what is on the list of good things believed by good people, don’t get any say whatever. They are to be humiliated and marginalized. The Constitution has sweet F. A. to say about it. If what is in the Constitution is good, it’s redundant, and if it’s bad it should be thrown out, so either way it’s not needed.

    Now I see your next objection: what keeps the good people from doing bad things? That’s a contradiction in terms. The good people would never do bad things because good people do good things. Those things are known already, ask any of the good people what to do or believe and they’ll tell you. See what’s trending on Twitter. Good people can also develop new good things on the spot.

    Now sometimes good people find out that some good things are not good anymore, and when that happens they fix it. Example: Eve Ensler and the Vagina Monologues used to be good, until good people realized that this was excluding women with penises, and so now the Vagina Monologues and Eve Ensler are bad until they accomodate and celebrate women with penises. And in some places this has been done and there are good versions of the Vagina Monologues being done now.

    Ok, fine, you say, I see that good people will never do bad things, but what about bad people pretending to be good, how will you stop them from influencing people with dog whistles and whatnot? And the answer here is also very simple. Good people are endlessly required to demonstrate that they are really good. One mistake, we put them on blast, they get fired from their job, they apologize, and maybe they become good again later after they’ve accepted all the criticism from the good people, and if not we just ask Twitter to flag them as abusive and all the good people will know not to listen to them.

    So, you see, the Constitution is old and it does get in the way of a truly just society.

    Gabriel Hanna (905cbf)

  54. … mostly this “recognition” and “so forth” happened in the courts and Rs were disgusted every time …

    Oh, balls. What horsesh1t!

    With a few exceptions, the only people who were upset by Brown, Loving, etc, were Southern Democrats. Senators like Fulbright, Ervin, Long, Eastman, etc. And if you look closely at what went on in the Senate, you’ll find that among those voting against the Civil Rights Act of 1957 were most of the Northern Democrats (such as John Kennedy) as well as the Democrat leadership such as Lyndon Johnson.

    The 1957 bill, introduced by Republicans, sought to ENFORCE various Supreme Court decisions regarding voting rights and make lynching a federal crime. The Southern Democrats would noit stand for it and “compromised” with their norther brethren to send it back to James Easland’s committee where it was gutted.

    In the end it set up a Civil Rights Commission to study the issues. And even that was filibustered by Strom Thurmond.

    So, no, the Republicans were not “disgusted” with the Court, but fought to enforce civil rights. And the only reason the Court kept having to act was the corrupt bargain within the Democrat Party to prevent the end of Jim Crow. And Earl Warren was a Republican.

    That this changed later doesn’t matter.

    This also holds true for Loving as the only states still preventing interracial marriages were controlled by Democrats.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  55. I have to say that Gabriel understands. It’s really too bad he isn’t good people though.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  56. They weren’t recognized under the Constitution

    Well the 14th Amendment kind of says they ARE equivalent before the law. Outside of that, say with respect to math or singing, no people aren’t equal at all.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  57. Indeed, Bob,
    If the federal government can tell you that you cannot grow your own food (wheat) on your own land,
    What can’t they tell you to do.

    Maybe Trump should say his litmus test will be to repeal Willard

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  58. Wickard,
    Sorry

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  59. Patterico: One of the best articles/pieces on this topic – i.e, how we let government do something and how they do it is as important as what it does – was by Harvey Mansfield. It’s called “The Forms and Formalities of Liberty.”

    Full article here: http://www.nationalaffairs.com/doclib/20080708_1983707theformsandformalitiesoflibertyharveycmansfieldjr.pdf

    SteveMG (ea62d2)

  60. I agree with your main point, Ag80, but on a minor point … I hope Trump will follow through on his promise to build a wall, strengthen our border security, and deport illegal immigrants who have criminal records in addition to illegal entry. I think it would be good for America and American workers. I also think it will be good for Mexico because Mexicans would realize, finally, that America is not their safety net and they can focus on Making Mexico Great.

    DRJ (15874d)

  61. Yes simple reciprocity, like they have on their southern border.

    narciso (d1f714)

  62. And my friend in the beltway reviews the news of the week.

    narciso (d1f714)

  63. Kevin M (25bbee) — 11/19/2016 @ 2:53 pm

    The Civil War was not about ending slavery, it was about keeping it. And they lost. M/blockquote> It wasn’t really about keeping slavery, at least in the short term, because slavery was not in danger. abraham Lincoln said he wanted to put slavery on the course of “ultimate extinction” or get that idea accepted. His own plans, to the extent he had one before the Civil War, called for gradual emancipation to be completed by the year 1900. Lincoln was for something that wold not disturb anybody’s life – it would be so gradual it would almost be unnoticeable.

    There was another thing. The South wanted to increade the number of slave states. The North was aganst that. The South had already gotten a Supreme Court decision that held that slavery could not be outlawed in the territories. Abraham Lincoln was the adherent of a conspiracy theory that maybe they wanted to make slavery legal in all of the nation, through another Supreme court decision. If his criticism of the Supreme Court was criticized now, he said = it was said its decisions shold be honored etc – what would Douglas say then, he wanted to know.

    The nation could not remain half slave and half free. It would either be all slave or all free.

    But he wasn’t proposing to do anything…except keep defenders of slavery out of federal office and not admitting any new slave states – which would have the consequence in time – I don’t ever reading any explicit statemennt to this effect – but it would have the consequence in time of making a constitutional amendment ending slavery possible.

    But that was some distance down the road.

    The Civil War, from the viewpoint of the southern fire-eaters was not about keeping slavery. Where things were heading, abolistionsism was not going to materially affect the life of anyone in the South any time soon. It was about people from areas that had slavery being able to aspire to high politcal office. They couldn’t if they came from a slave-holding state, because they couldn’t oppose slavery and if they didn’t oppose slavery nobody from outsde the slave-holding states would support them for anything.

    It wasn’t about recovering escaped slaves, because if the South had successfully seceded, nobody was going to return their slaves anyway. (this was before widespread all encompassing immigration laws, which only came into being in the Twentieth Century – some states did restrict free Negroes from settling there, laws which I think were not always enforced, and besides many could “pass” and people didn’t have birth certificates, or other identity documents – but there were other states they could go too, or even Canada, so basically without fugitive slave laws they woudln’t be forced back.)

    From the North, or from Lincoln’s viewpoint at any rate, because the war only had the amount of support that it did, in terms of going on because it worked against slavery, but from Lincoln’s point of view the war was about saving the Union, or more generally, about maintaining republican government and not having it upset because one party had lost an election (and would probably lose every election in the future.)

    It was about whether government of the people, by the people, and for the people can long endure, or whether it would be shown, for all humanity to see, in all countries of the world, that sooner or later there would be a violent revolution, and civil peace could only be maintained for very very long through a monarchy or at least an oligarchy. These people could not be allowed to get away with breaking up the union because things weren’t going their way. And he had taken an oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States. That made his course clear.

    Sammy Finkelman (54930a)

  64. The country could not remain half servant and half free, Jim crow proved that point, it was perhaps the dagger at the heart if the American experumentm

    narciso (d1f714)

  65. 59. MD in Philly (f9371b) — 11/20/2016 @ 4:46 am

    Wickard,

    Wickard is a Surpreme Court decision, not a law.

    Without Wickard, I think there’s a very strong case that all federal laws against employing illegal immigrants are unconstitutional, certainly for local employment.

    Yes, there’s some power to regulate foreign commerce and to control the border and provide for the national defense, but

    Where does the power to prohibit the employment of anyone, or to deport anyone, against the wishes of a state, when it’s not a matter of national defense, come from?

    It comes from no place. The federal government only has power over naturalization. So the necessary and proper clause does not come into play.

    If Trump appoints real, real, constitituional originalists, maybe the Supreme Court will so rule, provided that somebody will make the argument.

    The remaining liberals will be anxious to go along, and Justice Roberts, when he sees how much the controversy (if there is one) over “sanctuary” cities and states (especially California and New York) is tearing the country apart.

    I think, though, he’ll have Justice Clarence Thomas write the decision becasuse it will have more crddibility with conservaives, and he’ll strive for a 9-0 decision. A whole bunch of precedents will need to be overturned, and this will be his one chance to really do it, and this way maybe Justice Alito will sign on too. Maybe Sotomayor will concur but say federal minimum wage laws are constitutional, at least for companies with a presence in more than one state.

    Sammy Finkelman (54930a)

  66. narciso (d1f714) — 11/21/2016 @ 11:31 am

    Jim crow proved that point, it was perhaps the dagger at the heart if the American experument

    Jim Crow, which really came into existence only in the 1890s, died because the power of the federal government, which was used to legislating national laws, and also because of the 14th amendment, which was finally being interpreted the way it was supposed to be.

    Sammy Finkelman (54930a)

  67. Yes sammeh a supreme court decision has the force of law, in fact it has supplanted the amendment function.

    narciso (d1f714)

  68. http://www.nationalaffairs.com/doclib/20080708_1983707theformsandformalitiesoflibertyharveycmansfieldjr.pdf

    Men living in democratic centuries

    Is “centuries” the right translation of whatever word de Tocqueville used?

    Sammy Finkelman (07e67b)

  69. I am not sure from what post the following link came from:

    http://www.nationalaffairs.com/doclib/20080708_1983707theformsandformalitiesoflibertyharveycmansfieldjr.pdf
    ————————————-

    I think that whole essay is much more wordy than it needs to be. And also much too abstract.

    There seem to be a few simple thoughts or epigrams, and maybe good ideas, or buried in all that wordage. I have no idea whom he is arguing with or what about. There doesn’t seem to be any point he is getting to in all the 11 pages.

    I think Harvey C. Mansfield is saying that going through all the proper hoops is a very important value, even if we are certain, and in agreement, about the end result.

    I think this idea would also apply, even more than to the legislative power, to the judicial power.

    In other words, according to this, it wasn’t really a good thing that it happened that Osama bin Laden was shot in Pakistan, or that other terrorists are killed by drones without any kind of a trial. And it is nothing to cheer about even if you consider it the only practical course. And Joe Biden shouldn’t have boasted about it, because it represents a failure of law.

    Sammy Finkelman (07e67b)


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