Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Constitutional Conventions

The Federalist Society recently hosted a debate (video here) on amending the Constitution. WaPo covered the event by noting the "jarring" juxtaposition as "liberals urged caution, and judicial modesty," while conservatives "called for revolution." The latter saw potential for a constitutional convention to restore states' rights, considering amendments to balance the budget, mandate a supermajority to raise taxes and afford a line-item veto. The former rebutted that policy differences should be resolved by the political branches.

The debate seems to be conservative elation over the November election run amok. That states' rights have been unduly curtailed is evident, but exposing the Constitution to reform risks denigrating the prestige of the cherished document. And what's good for the goose.... Liberals will not always be the target of popular ire.

The Constitution says what is should - it has been a fault of the electorate that our leaders have failed to legislate and adjudicate in accordance with the Constitution. We have the opportunity to amend that particular error every November or so.

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Discussions - 6 Comments

We need to stop 'cherishing' the Constitution as if it were a family heirloom and ask if the institutions derived from its provisions actually function properly and if the privileges and immunities stated in black letters are more than minimally intelligible.

That is the most ignorant thing I've seen you write on here, AD.

Ignorant of what?

I dunno - maybe this was genius irony I missed. Maybe you meant that "we need to stop cherishing the Constitution as a family heirloom" as a way of saying "we need to pull the Constitution out of the attic and wipe the dust off its pages."

But yeah - you are ignorant of the American tradition if you think that the Constitution is worthless, not unlike Segal and Spaeth.

The Constitution is not a piece of imaginitive literature or a portrait. To alter it is not to corrupt it. It is a law erecting a particular institutional architecture. Does the architecture derived from that law achieve certain ends? If not, is the fault derived from the law or some other source?

It does not make any sense to refer to my statement as 'ignorant'. I adduced nothing factual in my comment.

Paulette's penultimate statement is that constitutional language is abolutely optimal. I cannot figure why he would think that.

I don't really see how someone can demonstrate the impenetrability of their speech by hiding behind the fact-value distinction.

I see it, but I don't see it as sensible.

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