The Most Revolutionary Act

Diverse Ramblings of an American Refugee

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Location
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Birthday
December 02
Bio
Retired psychiatrist, activist and author of 2 young adult novels - Battle for Tomorrow and A Rebel Comes of Age - and a free ebook 21st Century Revolution. My 2010 memoir The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led me to leave the US in 2002. More information about my books (and me) at www.stuartjeannebramhall.com

JANUARY 5, 2013 5:20PM

Georgetown Law Professor Wants to Abolish Constitution

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constitution2

 

In a December 30thNew York Times OpEd, Georgetown law professor Louis Michael Seidman calls to abolish the U.S. Constitution. He refers to its provisions as “archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil.” In his piece, he argues that blind obedience to the Constitution is the major reason for the impasse Congress faces in attempting to fix America’s economic and fiscal chaos. “Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.” Why in the world, he argues, should we follow the dictates of rich white men who knew nothing of our current situation and instituted constitutional protections for slavery?

He gives the example of a ruling before Christmas that the House couldn’t take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. He also gives numerous examples of past presidents and Supreme Court justices who acted contrary to the Constitution when it suited their purpose. John Adams’ Alien and Sedition Act violated the First Amendment, as did Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was unconstitutional at the time he issued (and only became legal after the 13th amendment was ratified. As was Roosevelt’s New Deal and the 1954 Supreme Court Brown v Board of Education decision.

He apparently feels the civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights – freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the law and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property – still apply. However he feels it’s okay to follow these requirements “out of respect,” rather than obligation. It’s a pity Obama doesn’t agree, given that he has suspended most of these rights.

Interesting that Seidman doesn’t want to open the debate to the length of the President’s term or whether Congress should consist of two houses. In my view, these are the two most dysfunctional aspects of the Constitution with respect to enacting reforms desired by people, as opposed to corporations. After living in New Zealand for ten years, I can see many ways in which a parliamentary democracy elected by proportional representative is more democratic. The notorious legislative stalemate that plagues the US would be impossible here. Governments that can’t pass legislation are forced to resign. At present this is the type of government found in most industrialized countries. Our Constitutional fathers, fearful lest the House of Representatives become too “democratic,” wrote about creating a Senate to block popular reforms initiated by the “lower” house. To this day, neither Senators nor the President are chosen on the basis of one-man-one-vote.

photo credit: Jonathan Thorne CC via photopin cc

 

Crossposted at Dailycensored.com and The Most Revolutionary Act

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I read this article too. The Constitution, like the Bible, has many inconsistencies, which make it convenient to justify all kinds of perverse things. The problem with the Tea Party folks would be solved by eliminating gerrymandering, and appointing nonpartisan redistricting. This was accomplished in the State of California, and for the first time in over ten years, the State will be able to pay its bills. A minority of Republican legislators were able to prevent any tax measures, forcing cuts in funding to social services, state parks and education, and expanding the state's debt every year.
That may be true, Steven, but the US is the only country I know where lawmakers are forced to operate within the framework of a 230 year old constitution. Most countries rewrite their constitutions regularly to update them to changing conditions. France, for example, has rewritten theirs four times in the 20th century. Neither the UK nor New Zealand even have a constitution!
Having a proper constitutional declaration of war was pretty nice. Seems like it was more difficult for the executive to attack the Barbary pirates, than it is today to wage war on -- I've lost track, of how many fronts!
Slice it how you may, it's all part and parcel of the unworkable system of "electing representatives" to do the work that we should all participate in doing. Democracy does NOT - ever - drive from "representatives" who can, and WILL ALWAYS be bought by special interests.

Sorry folks, but democracy only comes from ALL citizens participating in the management of the society. If you want something done right - you've gott'a do it yourself!
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Oops!

"drive" should be "derive"......
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re: France. The French may have rewritten their constitution four times, but they also have had over forty complete changes of government, since the Revolution. By complete change, I mean a change in the actual type of government. All this means is that "regime change" does not usually bring about political stability! The only hope I can see for life in the United States is a new age of activism, that will make local voters more aware of what is going on, and foil the attempts of Republicans to suppress the vote, increase the use of gerrymandering, funnel dark money into state legislature elections, and disrupt democratic primaries with fake candidates.
Madison, Franklin and Jefferson (yeah, yeah, yeah...I know) were against slavery and wanted to abolish the practice in the constitution, but with 9 colonies/states needed to ratify the document, abolishing the practice at the time simply wasn't practical or possible.

And, a parliament doesn't exclude having a legislative body consisting of 2 houses (house of commons/lords...perhaps you've heard of them - the English Governor who could just as easily become the ruler of your little island, should chaos erupt in England has heard of them, I'm sure).

Madison, et al tried to build a document that would protect the citizens of the US from two things - standing armies and large financial institutions.

Jefferson predicted that with the constitution that Madison and the others penned (he was in France at the time, though obviously his Articles of Confederacy was highly influential on all who constructed the foundational document of our nation), the Republic wouldn't completely fall apart and its citizens wouldn't abandon those ideals for 400 years.

As it turns out, he was 1/2 right.

I think a better idea is to have a 2nd Constitutional Convention and to write a new document than it is to completely scrap the original. Also, the more troublesome part of our legal foundation that we inherited from our empiric masters is the practice of English Common Law, one reason among many that decisions like Citizens United was made - racis destari.

Fuckin' Chaucer...
Madison, Franklin and Jefferson (yeah, yeah, yeah...I know) were against slavery and wanted to abolish the practice in the constitution, but with 9 colonies/states needed to ratify the document, abolishing the practice at the time simply wasn't practical or possible.

And, a parliament doesn't exclude having a legislative body consisting of 2 houses (house of commons/lords...perhaps you've heard of them - the English Governor who could just as easily become the ruler of your little island, should chaos erupt in England has heard of them, I'm sure).

Madison, et al tried to build a document that would protect the citizens of the US from two things - standing armies and large financial institutions.

Jefferson predicted that with the constitution that Madison and the others penned (he was in France at the time, though obviously his Articles of Confederacy was highly influential on all who constructed the foundational document of our nation), the Republic wouldn't completely fall apart and its citizens wouldn't abandon those ideals for 400 years.

As it turns out, he was 1/2 right.

I think a better idea is to have a 2nd Constitutional Convention and to write a new document than it is to completely scrap the original. Also, the more troublesome part of our legal foundation that we inherited from our empiric masters is the practice of English Common Law, one reason among many that decisions like Citizens United was made - racis destari.

Fuckin' Chaucer...