01 January 2013

Our Archaic, Idiosyncratic, Evil Constitution

"As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions."

The ravings of some fringe anarchist?  The rantings of a social pariah, angry at being marginalized by "the system?"

Nope, this is the introductory paragraph published in the New York Times and written by Louis Michael Seidman.  The same Louis Michael Seidman that is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University.

It is remarkable in its Herculean efforts of straw-man construction.  As one who is partial to the textualist approach to constitutional interpretation I'm impressed with Professor Seidman's tango with arguments that nobody has ever made.  It is easy to build up a body of half-truths and nonsensical extrapolations and then tear the whole thing down.  When you present people with whom you disagree as idiots not meant to be taken seriously, to an audience all to eager to accept this presentation, you are freed from the obligation to make an actual argument that can withstand scrutiny.

But then the good professor saves anyone from the obligation of taking his argument seriously by basically saying "never mind."  You see, he doesn't think the entire constitution is evil and should be ignored.  Just the parts he doesn't like.  "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."