Democrats have not been happy about the Republican decision to read the entire Constitution, minus the sections changed by subsequent amendment, on the floor of the House. It should be noted their displeasure is not universal. For example, Democrat Representative Steve Israel of New York told Fox News this morning that reading the Constitution was a “great idea,” and “we should do it in every Congress.”
For childish objections to reading the Constitution, you can’t do better than Israel’s New York colleague Jerrold Nadler. He used to be chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution. The New York Times praises him for having “studied and memorized the Constitution with Talmudic intensity,” which works better as a metaphor if you assume rabbis hate the Talmud with a burning passion.
Nadler helpfully assures us the Founders were “not demigods,” and the Constitution is “highly imperfect” because it required amendments to abolish slavery and “other injustices.” I’d say the amendment process, and the ways it has been lawfully used, are aspects of its perfection. It beats the hell out of the traditional Democrat approach of treating the Commerce Clause as blanket permission to do anything they want, without wasting time on those dreary amendments.
You may recall former Speaker Nancy Pelosi barking with laughter and asking “Are you serious?” when a reporter asked where the Constitution granted her “authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate.” A Pelosi flack later said, “You can put this on the record: that is not a serious question.” As it turns out, the courts disagree. We’ve pointlessly destroyed thousands of jobs and health insurance plans because Pelosi was not compelled to answer the question, and dismissed upon her failure to do so.
Democrats howl in agony when the Constitution thwarts their designs. Remember the fight President Obama picked with the Supreme Court during his first State of the Union address? He was furious because the Constitution blocked an election law he really liked. The Left doesn’t love the First Amendment any more than the rest of the amended Constitution, although they enjoy folding it into a paper airplane and throwing it into the eyes of uppity Christians.
Liberal blogger Ezra Klein endured much mockery for recently declaring the Constitution was “hard to understand” because of its age. He was actually restating a very old leftist belief in a particularly clumsy manner: the assertion that the Constitution is irrelevant because it was written by old white guys who couldn’t possibly understand our fast-paced modern world, and its quaint language makes much of its meaning “unclear.”
The problem is that liberals especially hate the really clear parts, both in the original document and the even more crystalline Amendments, like “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” or “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Bill of Rights does not neutralize the Constitution – it clarifies the genius of the original document, and makes wise adjustments. No one in Congress today was pretending the Amendments didn’t count, or don’t exist.
There are ambiguous aspects of the Constitution, and places where further clarification through the courts is necessary. There may even be further Amendments, carefully deliberated and lawfully enacted. The ambiguous parts are not the ones we’re arguing about. The crystal clear passages render much of this bloated government null and void. If the Constitution had been properly respected, that government would never have existed, and we would be more wealthy, and more free.
Instead, we approach the end of a fantastically expensive and destructive lesson about the vital importance of reading and understanding our founding documents. They render the entire enterprise of socialism a complete non-starter, which should never have escaped bull sessions between bitter academics who are not shy about expressing their hatred for what the Founders did to their collectivist dreams. At its heart, the Constitution is a discourse about inalienable rights, which are wholly incompatible with elaborate schemes to compromise the rights of some, in the service of others. Ponder that idea with Talmudic intensity.
Sign up to the Human Events newsletter