Constitutional Idolatry

More

Thanks to Lexington at The Economist for the link to Michael Klarman's lecture on the constitution. Interesting stuff, though some of Klarman's points seems a little overstated and (as a result) at odds with each other.

I have four points I want to make today against constitutional idolatry, which is my label for our misguided tendency to blindly worship the Constitution, giving it credit for all the things we love and honor about our country.

(1) The Framers' constitution, to a large degree, represented values we should abhor or at least reject today.

(2) There are parts of the Constitution with which we are still stuck today even though we would never freely choose them and they are impossible to defend based on contemporary values.

(3) For the most part, the Constitution is irrelevant to the current political design of our nation.

(4) The rights protections we do enjoy today, the importance of which I do not minimize, are mostly a function of political and social mores, which have dramatically evolved over time and owe relatively little to courts using the Constitution to protect them.

Under (2) he puts two senators for every state, a dispensation he calls "crazy", because it leads to enormous over-representation of lightly populated states. Whether or not you can defend this formula, its political consequences are painfully (if you are a Democrat) apparent. Without it, the US would be a different country. Yet under (3), supplemented by (4), Klarman argues that the constitution is "for the most part" irrelevant.

Jarring...but as I say a thought-provoking lecture, well worth reading.

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In