Posted by Curt on 26 September, 2015 at 9:56 am. 36 comments already!


Andrew C. McCarthy:

Does Charles Krauthammer get Islam wrong because he gets the Constitution wrong? Or does he get the Constitution wrong because he gets Islam wrong?

This conundrum comes to the fore — and not for the first time — after Dr. Krauthammer’s serial denunciations of Dr. Ben Carson. In a Sunday Meet the Press interview, Carson opined that Islam is inconsistent with the United States Constitution and, therefore, that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation” — meaning he would not recommend that voters elect a Muslim president.

Dr. K decries Dr. C’s remarks as “morally outrageous,” albeit “sincerely felt.” With Democrats in distress, the columnist fears Republicans are undermining their golden 2016 opportunity: “It is certainly damaging to any party when one of its two front-runners denigrates, however thoughtlessly, the nation’s entire Muslim American community.”

But what loseth a man if he denigrates a tiny community — a large percentage of whose members are Islamists reliably aligned with Democrats — but gains the esteem of a vast political base convinced that Washington is insane on matters Muslim?

My great respect for Charles Krauthammer having been oft expressed, I will refrain from the usual throat-clearing. Precisely because he is so influential, and we are in such perilous times, I must dissent from an argument that is constitutionally wayward and, on Islam, willfully blind.

To his credit, Krauthammer does not flatly misstate the Constitution, as did some of Carson’s rivals in the GOP nomination chase. Making like a CAIR echo chamber, they frivolously accused Carson of violating the Constitution’s prohibition against establishing a “religious test” for holding public office. (CAIR, the Council on American–Islamic Relations, is a Muslim Brotherhood–created press agent for Islamic supremacism masquerading as a civil-rights group. It predictably called on Carson to withdraw.)

Of course, Carson did not call for the enactment of a law disqualifying Muslims from serving in public office, which is what the religious-test clause actually forbids. He merely offered his personal opinion that it would not be wise for Americans to elect a Muslim president.

Krauthammer’s argument is more sophisticated and more dangerous — a bellwether of how progressive constitutional jurisprudence corrupts the thinking of even brilliant conservative analysts. He writes:

The Constitution is not just a legal document. It is a didactic one. It doesn’t just set limits to power; it expresses a national ethos. It doesn’t just tell you what you’re not allowed to do; it also suggests what you shouldn’t want to do.

Nonsense. If the Constitution is a “didactic” document, it is a damned poor one, since its objective is to limit government and maximize individual liberty. Despite the Constitution’s clarity in this regard, government has exploded in size and scope over the last century. Why? Because the “national ethos” — actually expressed by progressive scholars and jurists, not by the Constitution itself — has obscured a central truth: If the Constitution is in the business of making “didactic” suggestions, the “you” to whom they are addressed is the government, not the people.

The Constitution is not a pedagogical tool, teaching us values. It is a legal and political limitation on government’s intrusion into the realm of free thought and action. It is in that realm that we acquire values, knowledge, and common sense. Thus armed, Americans have been taking the belief systems of candidates for public office into account since the Constitution took effect in 1789. There is, moreover, a cottage industry of scholarship on how the religious beliefs of the framers and of presidents have shaped the course of American history. It would defy logic to ignore the patent connection between a candidate’s convictions and how he is likely to govern.

Ben Carson did not say Muslims are unfit to hold public office. He said he does not think a Muslim should be president. “Congress,” he elaborated, “is a different story.” He might very well vote for a Muslim to serve in the legislature, with the caveat that it would depend on “who that Muslim is and what their policies are” — same as with anyone “of any faith.”

If we are to explore the Constitution as a didactic document, the distinction Carson draws between the presidency and other high offices is worth pondering. It reflects the actual reasoning of the framers — which had nothing to do with keeping faith out of the voting booth.

Neither literally nor in spirit does the Constitution forbid automatic disqualifications for the presidency based on an American’s status. Recognizing that they had created a uniquely powerful office the abuse of which could gravely damage or even destroy the republic, the framers took pains to limit eligibility to “natural born” citizens. Is the Constitution trying to teach us that naturalized citizens cannot love our country every bit as much as those fortunate enough to be born here? Of course not. It is drawing a common-sense line.

Because of concerns that apply singularly to the presidency, the Constitution spares the American people the fear that the office could fall into the hands of a person who still feels bonds of loyalty to another sovereign. As related in the Heritage Foundation’s invaluable Guide to the Constitution, John Jay wrote George Washington during the Philadelphia convention to urge that the Constitution “declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born citizen.” Another iconic American jurist, Joseph Story, later explained that this eligibility requirement “cuts off all chances for ambitious foreigners, who might otherwise be intriguing for the office.”

Read more

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x