New York Times Decries Constitution

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Wesley J. Smith @ The Corner:

The New York Times has published an op/ed by a law professor decrying the U.S. Constitution as the enemy of freedom, urging we abandon our “obsession” to the rule of law by just disregarding those provisions with which we disagree. From, “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution,” by Louis Michael Seidman:

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.

“Evil provisions?” Of course, Seidman references slavery, but apparently he also considers equal representation in the Senate in that category and the requirement that revenue bills originate in the House.

He claims that we should just ignore those provisions of the Constitution that we don’t like–except those of which he approves:

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.

No thanks. I like liberty and the Constitution is its bulwark.

What would replace ordered liberty?

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Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

18 Responses to “New York Times Decries Constitution”

  1. 1

    I just read the op-ed and logged on here for the first time since Christmas, hoping to find a thread where I could talk about it. I’m delighted to see that it’s the topic of a stand-alone blog post.

    The op-ed is an only theoretical, food-for-thought musing, and it’s in this spirit that I hope it can be discussed. There is no way in the world that there will ever be a constitutional convention to re-write the Constitution; so don’t anyone go getting all worked up about it.

    There is a lot which could be said about it, but the following quote is as good as any to start:

    Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.


    As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?


    No sooner was the Constitution in place than our leaders began ignoring it. John Adams supported the Alien and Sedition Acts, which violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. Thomas Jefferson thought every constitution should expire after a single generation. He believed the most consequential act of his presidency — the purchase of the Louisiana Territory — exceeded his constitutional powers.

    So, what are the arguments for considering the US Constitution to be akin to Holy Scripture — immutable and unchangeable?

    Why on earth should Wyoming (580,000 people) get equal representation in the US Senate to Texas (26,000,000 people) and California (38,000,000 people)? It made sense, initially, as a compromise, to get approval of all 13 original states, but does it make any sense at all today? How would Conservatives feel if the large population states were mainly conservative, and if the hinterlands were populated largely by socialist hippies, who had the power to thwart the will of the majority, through arcane parliamentary tactics, such as the one senator veto (thwarting unanimous consent votes), the filibuster, and insistence that spending bills originate in the “lower” chamber?

    – Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

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    The op-ed is an only theoretical, food-for-thought musing, and it’s in this spirit that I hope it can be discussed.

    It’s not desirable to discuss it without also bringing up the issue of framing. The New York Times editorial page is still a pretty influential arbiter of which ideas are up for discussion, and which ones are beyond the pale. And they use that position to limit the bounds of discourse.
    By way of example, they once commissioned an editorial from environmentalist Edward Abbey on the topic of illegal immigration. They then declined to publish it because it was outside the bounds of what they considered an acceptable range of opinions (you can find Abbey’s original editorial here: There are other examples.
    So while I would be happy to discuss these ideas if they had been published in some freewheeling blog that was open to a wide range of opinions, this has to be considered in light of the fact that it was published in a venue that deliberately only allows a narrow range of opinion. Considered in that light, the willingness to put forth the idea of trashing the constitution is really offensive. I can only hope that their slow decline continues.

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    Ah, yes, the standard “propertied white men who supported slavery” meme. No surprise coming from you, Larry.

    Immutable and unchangable?

    I guess in that tony university where you obtained your medical degree they didn’t provide classes on the U.S. Constitition. So it is no surprise that you would ignore the actual vehicle that allows for the Constitution to be changed, making it not immutable, the amendment process.

    Tell me, Larry, how do you feel about one man, after swearing to protect, and defend, that very document that you liberals hold in such disdain, being able to thwart it? How do you feel about one man being able to refuse to pass a federal budget, not just for one year, but for three years, when it is Constitutionally mandated that the Congress, pass an annual budget?

    The U.S. Constitution was written by learned men who make you look like a mental midget. They not only understood that times would change, as would technology, but that human nature would remain the one constant.

    As I said before, and I still maintain, people like you are nothing more than enemies to this nation.

  4. 4


    How many other countries that were eventually overthrown, started out this way? I have lived long enough to have witnessed several countries overthrown. With the politicians in congress we have now, and with a president who wants absolute power, I am guessing this will go further than it ever has before. No wonder the gun and ammo manufacturers can’t keep up.

  5. 5


    So, what other parts of the Constitution is it that this Chicago leftist want gone? No doubt that pesky 2nd Amendment that the socialist left wants to take away.

    Stanislav Mishin is a Russian who knows his history —

    Writes Mishin: “This will probably come as a shock to most of my Western readers, but at one point Russia was one of the most heavily armed societies on earth. This was, of course, when we were free [before the Russian Revolution].” After this, he goes through a list of abuses the Russian people have faced not only during Soviet times but under Vladimir Putin too, and here is his conclusion: “[Gun control] is about power and total power over the people.”

    Speaking as one who knows firsthand how gun control eviscerates freedom, Mishin warns Americans: “Never give up your guns.”

  6. 6

    John Hardesty


    In answer to your question to whether the US Constitution and the way it is set up is still relevent, the answer is yes. Your specific question concerning the equal standing of Wyoming and California was rather profound. I will answer it quite simply..

    It is because the country is a collective (Union) of states – hence the Name United States of America.

    Each state in the union could be a nation unto itself as it has its own executive, legislative and judicial branch, a defined border, a flag.. etc

    In addition, further proof is the fact that each state in the Union (collective) must be admitted – ie voted to join by their respective peers- the senators of the other states already in the Union.

    This is designed in the Constitution and has worked 37 times since the founding of the nation .

    As for the Op Ed in the NYT, it is just that — an Opinion piece in a newspaper.

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    Why on earth should Wyoming (580,000 people) get equal representation in the US Senate to Texas (26,000,000 people) and California (38,000,000 people)?

    The greatest fear the founders had when setting up our form of government was tyranny. Tyranny comes in all forms, but the one the founders feared most was tyranny of the majority. That is why the senate is set up the way it is, to provide equal representation for each State. Since we are the United States, no one State is greater than the other in terms of representation.

    So, what are the arguments for considering the US Constitution to be akin to Holy Scripture — immutable and unchangeable?

    I refer you to Joe Pesci’s (Simon Wilder) speech in “With Honors.”

    Simon Wilder: You asked the question, sir, now let me answer it. The beauty of the Constitution is that it can always be changed. The beauty of the Constitution is that it makes no set law other than faith in the wisdom of ordinary people to govern themselves.
    Proffesor Pitkannan: Faith in the wisdom of the people is exactly what makes the Constitution incomplete and crude.
    Simon Wilder: Crude? No, sir. Our “founding parents” were pompous, white, middle-aged farmers, but they were also great men. Because they knew one thing that all great men should know: that they didn’t know everything. Sure, they’d make mistakes, but they made sure to leave a way to correct them. The president is not an “elected king,” no matter how many bombs he can drop. Because the “crude” Constitution doesn’t trust him. He’s just a bum, okay Mr. Pitkannan? He’s just a bum.

  8. 8

    another vet

    So, what are the arguments for considering the US Constitution to be akin to Holy Scripture — immutable and unchangeable?

    Article V states:

    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

    The Constitution was set up to provide a means for changing it. That’s how involuntary servitude (slavery) was written out of the Constitution (13th Amendment). The problem is everyone wants to change it on a whim just to impose their beliefs on others. It doesn’t work that way nor was it intended to work that way. If it was, there wouldn’t have been a need for Article V.

  9. 9


    Before anyone gives any credence to the NY Times article, one needs to take a closer look at its author.

    Louis Michael Seidman is a graduate of the University of Chicago, obtaining his law degree at Harvard University. Seidman is a self-proclaimed [small c] communist, in the vein of William Ayers. He also subscibes to the philosophy of critical theory designed by the neo-Marxists of the Frankfort School of Marxism. He has authored a number of books with another Harvard graduate, and fellow philosophic traveler, Cass Sunstein (name ring a bell, boys and girls?) who is married to the hater of Israel, Samantha Powers, another Harvard Law grad.

    It is no wonder that Seidman’s article would appear in the NYSlimes since its publisher, and CEO, Arthur (Pinch) Sulzberger, Jr., a self proclaimed Fabian Socialist, who also has a degree from Harvard.

    None of these players are backers of the U.S. Constitution. Sunstein has been called “the most dangerous man in America” due to his radical philosophies.

    All you have to do is scratch the surface and you will find not one roach, but a nest of them.

  10. 10


    @another vet: #8
    The more I learned about how our country came to be, the more I realized how BRILLIANT these guys were. I challenge anyone to come up with a more fare document for WE THE PEOPLE. They did a fantastic job. This is the main reason people from other countries want IN the USA, and few Americans want OUT.

    As Merle Haggard sang, “If you don’t love it, leave it.” Each time I listen to that song, it is still appropriate for today. I intend to play it at the next Tea Party rally I attend.

  11. 11

    another vet

    @Smorgasbord: Our Founders were far more knowledgeable than most Americans today. Aside from the mistake that was made with involuntary servitude, the Constitution is a brilliant piece of work. It’s unfortunate that a large minority, or possibly even a small majority, in this country treat it like a piece of toilet paper and view those who drafted the document as well as those who support it as “extremists”. As the saying goes, “Freedom is just another word until you lose it.” It is mind boggling reading some of the posts here of people are so eager to shitcan the document for what they perceive as “security” be it economic or otherwise.

  12. 12


    @another vet: #11
    It bothers me even more when I think of all the millions who have died defending our Constitution. Those who are still defending the document, are still also defending the right for people to condemn the document without having their heads cut off. The ones who go along with those trying to get the Constitution declared void, are like the frog in a pan of water that is being heated up slowly. Once they figure out that they are being cooked, they are already cooked.

  13. 13

    another vet

    @Smorgasbord: That’s exactly what is happening. It is being nickel and dimed to death. It is rather disgusting that millions have fought, bled, and died for what it stands for only to have people treat it like toilet paper. If you were to take a survey of those who want to discard it, you’d probably find the majority never served but they’re real quick to exercise their right of freedom of speech to bash the document and those who defend it.

  14. 14

    Richard Wheeler

    A.V.#11 “Freedom’s just another word for nothin left to lose” Janis Joplin singing Me and Bobbie McGee 1970.
    Maybe you’re thinkin ” You Don’t Know What You Got Until You Lose It” the great 1961 hit by Ral Donner.

    Smorg–below– You must be one hell of a scary sight.

    Semper Fi Happy New Year Go Irish

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    @another vet: #13
    A local Tea Party rally I went to, I printed the Constitution large enough that I could wear it. I put gauze and tape bandages different places on it, then put ketchup on the bandages so it looked like blood was running down from them. This is how I feel.

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    another vet

    @Richard Wheeler: I wasn’t thinking of a song. There was a movie in the ’80’s starring one of Chuck Norris’s kids called, “Born American”, about three American backpackers who end up in a Soviet gulag. The byline in the movie was, “Freedom is just another word until you lose it.” How true it is. Sadly there are those in this country who don’t get it. Perhaps they should talk to some of the folks who came from countries like the ones they seem to want to be like or maybe go spend some time living in Cuba, N. Korea, Venezuela, or Iran where the government does everything for them in exchange for less freedom.

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