Abandoning What You Probably Never Read

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal posted a commentary with the headline, “Democrats Abandon the Constitution.” Actually they did that a long time ago, which is why they were so upset at the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh–he might work to bring it back.

The commentary goes on to list some of the basic tenets of the Constitution that the Democrats are currently railing against:

Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court has sparked a firestorm of outrage and recrimination on the left. Some attacks seem aimed at intimidating the justices into supporting progressive causes. “The Court must now prove—through its work—that it is worthy of the nation’s trust,” Eric Holder, President Obama’s attorney general, tweeted Oct. 6.

Yet the attacks go beyond ideology. Detractors of Justice Kavanaugh and President Trump are denouncing the Constitution itself and the core elements of America’s governmental structure:

  • The Electoral College. Mr. Trump’s opponents claim he is an illegitimate president because Hillary Clinton “won the popular vote.” One commentator even asked “what kind of nation allows the loser of a national election to become president.” The complaint that the Electoral College is undemocratic is nothing new. The Framers designed it that way. They created a republican form of government, not a pure democracy, and adopted various antimajoritarian measures to keep the “demos” in check.

The Electoral College could be eliminated by amending the Constitution. But proposing an amendment requires two-thirds votes in both houses of Congress, and the legislatures of three-fourths, or 38, of the states would have to ratify it.

  • The Senate. The complaint here is that the 50 senators who voted in Justice Kavanaugh’s favor “represent” fewer people than the 48 who voted against him. But senators represent states, not people.

Equal Senate representation for the states was a key part of the Connecticut Compromise, along with House seats apportioned by population. The compromise persuaded large and small states alike to accept the new Constitution. It was so fundamental that Article V of the Constitution—which spells out the amendment procedure—provides that “no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.” That means an amendment changing the structure of the Senate would require ratification by all 50 states.

  • Judicial independence. Commentators who disapprove of the Supreme Court’s composition have urged, as one law professor put it, “shrinking the power of the courts to overrun our citizens’ democratic decisions.” Some suggest limiting and staggering the justices’ terms so that a vacancy would come up every other year, ensuring that the court follows the election returns. That could be achieved via constitutional amendment, but it would go against the Framers’ wisdom. As Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 78, life tenure for judges is “the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright and impartial administration of the laws.”

What we have hear is a living example of what happens when you don’t teach American history and the principles of the Constitution in schools. The people calling for these changes have no concept of how our government was designed or the safeguards that were put in it. Their desire is to take those safeguards out and institute mob rule. That has not worked well in other places, and I seriously doubt it would work well here. It was what our Founding Fathers sought to avoid.

The commentary concludes:

The anger and disappointment of Justice Kavanaugh’s opponents is understandable, as would be that of his supporters if the vote had gone the other way. They are perfectly entitled to pursue political remedies, including using his appointment as a campaign issue. They also are entitled to pursue amendments to the Constitution that would make our system of government more responsive to the popular will. What they cannot do is overturn the Connecticut Compromise guaranteeing each state equal representation in the Senate, or launch unconstitutional investigations or impeachment of a sitting Supreme Court justice. The Constitution protects all of us, even Supreme Court justices.


The Other Side Of The Argument

Tonight I attended a presentation by Jeff Lewis of the Patriot Coalition. The presentation was sponsored by the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA).  Mr. Lewis’s topic was “Convention of States: A Threat to the Republic?”
A number of conservative voices have suggested that because our government is currently broken so badly we need to call an Article V Convention. An Article V Convention is one of two ways to amend the U.S. Constitution. According to Article V, Congress must call for an amendment-proposing convention, “on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States,” meaning 34 state legislatures would have to submit applications. Once an Article V Convention has proposed an amendment or amendments, then the amendment or amendments would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38 states) in order to become part of the Constitution. The other method of amending the Constitution is a vote by two-thirds of each house of Congress.
Mr. Lewis is the co-founder of the Patriot Coalition, a group that opposes an Article V Convention. He made some very valid points during his presentation. He pointed out that the Constitution is not the problem–the fact that our government is not following the Constitution is the problem. If those in power are not following the current Constitution, what makes us think that if we change it they will follow the new Constitution? That is a very good question.
The danger of an Article V Convention is that once the convention is called, Congress is in full charge of making the rules. If we cannot trust Congress to be above special interests and politics with the power they currently have, why should we believe that they will behave well in putting together the rules for an Article V Convention? Another good question.
If Congress makes the rules for an Article V Convention, there would be no guarantee of a one state/one vote principle at the convention. All bets are off as to how issues would be discussed, decided, or voted on. That is a scary proposition.
There are some arguments for an Article V Convention. Washington stopped listening to the voters a long time ago, and most voters stopped paying attention to Washington except for the two to three weeks before Election Day. Change is definitely needed, I am simply not sure if an Article V Convention is that change. I believe that it would be too easy for special interest groups and people who do not support our current Constitution to do things that all Americans would regret.