Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Albert Einstein

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Dead Document

Harsanyi on the usually sensible Ezra Klein:

Recently, the wise liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein explained that the “issue with the Constitution is not that people don’t read the text and think they’re following it. The issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than a hundred years ago.”

Actually, more than 200, but who’s counting.  But he’s right.  The Constitution is so confusing compared to 2000-page healthcare bills that no one has read.

In all seriousness, the Constitutional only gets “confusing” when you attempt to twist it to say something it plainly doesn’t.  It’s confusing when you’re trying to inject all kinds of caveats into the First Amendment about corporate speech.  It’s baffling when you want to imprison American citizens without trail and can’t find the verbiage that suspends habeas.  One can get completely lost turning the Second Amendment upside down trying to find the part that allow the government to grab guns.  And madness lies ahead when you scrounge through the enumerated powers trying to find some way, any way, to justify healthcare reform.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “living Constitution” arguments are a way for people to amend the Constitution with 51% of the vote instead of 75% of it.  The Constitution is difficult to change and update to modern times—but it was made that way on purpose because our founders understood how tempting it would be for politicians to expand their powers and curtail our freedoms.  Hell, even with the Constitution, they’re going all out (read Gene Healy’s The Cult of the Presidency; this is a bipartisan thing).

The only way to absolutely protect our liberty—including liberties that I’m sure Klein treasures like habeas, free speech and trial by jury—is to insist that we treat the Constitution as a dead document.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 01/06/11 at 09:44 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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