The View From 1776
Monday, February 17, 2014
Is The Constitution No More Than Whatever Public Opinion Will Tolerate?
Liberal-progressive legal theorists have in recent decades touted the conception that the delegates who wrote the Constitution in 1787 didn’t really mean to make amending the Constitution so difficult. Evolving public opinion does the job without formal amendments.
During the New Deal of the 1930s, Princeton’s Edward S. Corwin decried the “well nigh impossible” process of amending the Constitution and, in the John Dewey pragmatist mode, sought a loophole to impose arbitrarily what liberal-progressives believed to be justifiable ends.
In more recent years, Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman has been widely cited by the liberal-progressive media as an authority on Constitutional law. He teaches the doctrine that the writers of the Constitution “must” have intended that changing public opinion alone effectively amends the Constitution. The writers of the Constitution, Professor Ackerman asserts, surely didn’t really mean to restrict amending the Constitution to the procedures set forth in Article V of the Constitution.
The truth, extensively documented in the lengthy debates at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, is that the founders intended to make amending the Constitution difficult and time-consuming. It seems not to have occurred to them that the founders wanted to impart stability and permanence to our federal republic.
President Obama, however, doesn’t bother even with public opinion. Opinion polls reveal a low regard for his stewardship and a strong distaste for Obamacare. Yet he has decided to ignore Congress, enacted laws, and public opinion to rule via executive orders in pursuit of whatever his liberal-progressive-socialistic religious faith dictates, and, to quote William Henry Vanderbilt, “the public be damned.”
Kings, Presidents, and Barack Obama, by Jonathan S. Tobin.