July 02, 2003

A Historical Document: "In the Long Run It Is the Majority Who Will Determine What the Constitutional Rights of the Minority Are"

The judicial philosophy of Chief Justice Rehnquist, taken from Rehnquist (1952), "A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases"*. This memo expressing Rehnquist's position** on a number of issues is usually cited for the flat declaration at the end that Plessy v. Ferguson (establishing the legality of the "separate and unequal" principle of segregation in governmental treatment of Blacks and whites) "was right and should be re-affirmed" even though Rehnquist is aware that it is an "unpopular and unhumanitarian position" for which he has been "excoriated by 'liberal' colleagyes."

More interesting, from my perspective at least, are Rehnquist's beliefs that:

  • Jimmy Madison was an idiot for including individual rights in the Constitution: "The Constitution, of course, deals with individual rights, particularly in the first Ten and the fourteenth Amendments. But as I read the history of this Court, it has seldom been out of hot water when attempting to interpret these individual rights."
  • No matter what the Constitution says, the Supreme Court cannot protect minority rights of any kind, and it should not try, for "in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are."
  • The Warren Court's attempt to use the law to help change the hearts and minds of Americans toward racial equality is doomed to failure: "One hundred and fifty years of attempts on the part of this Court to protect minority rights... have been sloughed off, and crept silently to rest.... [T]he present Court... must be prepared to see its work fade in time, too, as embodying only the sentiments of a transient majority of nine men."
  • The FDR-era "Switch in Time That Saved Nine," in which the Supreme Court decided to cease blocking New Deal measures rather than continue to do so and trigger the passage of constitutional amendments explicitly increasing the government's power to regulate the economy, was a principled recognition by the Court of the general principle that "...where a legislature was dealing with its own citizens, it was not part of the judicial function to thwart public opinion."
  • In an extraodinary misconstrual of U.S. history in the 1850s, Chief Justice Roger Taney's holding in Dred Scott v. Sanford that Congress could not prohibit slavery in any U.S. Territory was not an attempt to give slavery a chance to expand in U.S. Territories beyond its Missouri Compromise and Kansas-Nebraska Act boundaries, but was instead a defensive move: an "effort to protect the slaveholders from legislative interference." (Never mind that the legislative "interference" was at the time of Taney's decision more than seventy years old, dating back to Thomas Jefferson's Northwest Ordinance prohibiting slavery from the Northwest Territories between the Ohio, the Mississippi, and the Great Lakes.)

Now the fifth of these--Roger Taney as a principled defender of minority rights against legislative encroachment--is a very strange belief for a modern American to have. The fourth would be a strange belief for a non-lawyer to have, but lawyers spend a lot of their time asserting that a court in the past did X for reason Y even when it is plain that Y did not feature in the court's thinking at all. And the third was clearly wrong.

But the first and second are by far the strangest and most bizarre. It is indeed the case that a sufficiently large, determined, and durable majority could repeal the Thirteenth Amendment and reduce African-Americans to slavery, and repeal the First Amendment and establish a press completely controlled by the Ministry of Truth. But until those amendments are repealed, the prohibition against slavery and the freedom of the press are part of the supreme laws of the land that it is the business of the Supreme Court to enforce. And Rhenquist's first? That the Court should not attempt to "interpret" any of the Constitution's provisions protecting individual rights? It seems to fundamentally miss the point of what the American Constitution is, nay, more, to miss the entire point of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence since Magna Carta itself. Rehnquist seems to have simply never gotten the point that, as Jefferson put it, here in America we believe that people have rights and that governments are established to secure those rights--that the government is our servant, not our master.

It is a very, very odd thing indeed for William Rehnquist to be Chief Justice of the United States of America.


A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases

One-hundred fifty years ago this Court held that it was the ultimate judge of the restrictions which the Constitution imposed on the various branches of the national state government. Marbury v. Madison. This was presumably on the basis that there are standards to be applied other than the personal predilections of the Justices.

As applied to questions of inter-state or state-federal relations, as well as to inter-departmental disputes within the federal government, this doctrine has worked well. Where theoretically co-ordinate bodies of government are disputing, the Court is well suited to its role as arbiter. This is because these problems involve much less emotionally charged subject matter than do those discussed below. In effect, they determine the skeletal relations of the governments to each other without influencing the substantive business of those governments.

As applied to relations between the individual and the state, the system has worked much less well. The Constitution, of course, deals with individual rights, particularly in the first Ten and the fourteenth Amendments. But as I read the history of this Court, it has seldom been out of hot water when attempting to interpret these individual rights. Fletcher v. Peck, in 1810, represented an attempt by Chief Justice Marshall to extend the protection of the contract clause to infant business. Scott v. Sanford was the result of Taney's effort to protect the slaveholders from legislative interference.

After the Civil War, business interest came to dominate the court, and they in turn ventured into the deep water of protecting certain types of individuals against legislative interference. Championed first by Field, then by Peckham and Brewer, the high water mark of the trend in protecting the majority opinion in that case, Holmes replied that the fourteenth Amendment did not enact Herbert [S]pence[r]'s Social Statios [sic]. Other cases coming later in a similar vein were Advins v. Children's Hospital, Hammer v. Dagenhart, Tyson v. Banton, Ribnik v. McBride. But eventually the Court called a halt to this reading of its own economic views into the Constitution. Apparently it recognized that where a legislature was dealing with its own citizens, it was not part of the judicial function to thwart public opinion except in extreme cases.

In these cases now before the Court, the Court is, as Davis suggested, being asked to read its own sociological views into the Constitution. urging a view palpably at variance with precedent and probably with legislative history, appellants seek to convince the Court of the moral wrongness of the treatment they are receiving. I would suggest that this is a question the Court need never reach; for regardless of the Justice's individual views on the merits of segregation, it quite clearly is not one of those extreme cases which command intervention from one of any conviction. If this Court, because its members individually are "liberal" and dislike segregation, now choose to strike it down, it differs from the McReynolds court only in the kinds of litigants it favors and the kinds of special claims it protects. To those who argue that "personal" rights are more sacrosanct than "property" rights, the short answer is that the Constitution makes no such distinction. To the argument made by Thurgood Marshall that a majority may not deprive a minority of its constitutional right, the answer must be made that while this is sound in theory, in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are. One hundred and fifty years of attempts on the part of this Court to protect minority rights of any kind--whether those of business, slaveholders, or Jehovah's Witnesses--have been sloughed off, and crept silently to rest. If the present Court is unable to profit by this example it must be prepared to see its work fade in time, too, as embodying only the sentiments of a transient majority of nine men.

I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by "liberal" colleag[u]es, but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be re-affirmed. If the fourteenth Amendment did not enact Spencer's Social Statios [sic], it just as surely did not enact Myrddahl's [sic] American Dilemma.

WHR


*William H. Rehnquist (1952), "A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases," Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-Ninth Congress, Second Session, on the Nomination of Justice WIlliam Hubbs Rehnquist to be Chief Justice of the United States. July 29, 30, 31, and August 1, 1986. Serial No. J-99-118. S. Hrg. 99-1067. J 60 J9 99th no. 130 DOCS, pp. 324-5.

**From pp. 328-332 of Richard Kluger (1977), Simple Justice (New York: Random House: 0394722558):

The memo, Rehnquist advised the Senate... had been written at Justice Jackson's request and represented Jackson's views on the segregation cases. The Justice wanted the memo, Rehnquist said, to arm himself when speaking at the conference of the Justices.... If Rehnquist was telling the truth to the Senate in 1971***... the Justice must have undergone a considerable change of heart... little in Burton's notes on Jackson's remarks [during the Court conference on December 13, 1952] resembles any of the thoughts attributed to him in the Rehnquist memo. And nothing in the memo that Jackson himself prepared on the subject in February 1954 remotely suggests that he ever thought that Plessy had been rightly decided...

***There is much evidence... that casts doubt on Rehnquist's account.... Of the two living people who might have corroborated Rehnquist's explanation to the Senate, one.. seemed to conflict with the Rehnquist account, and the other sharply denied it. Rehnquist's fellow clerk, Donald Cronson... cabled a message.... Cronson's explanation raises at least three questions.... If Jackson had requested two memos reaching opposite conclusions on the rightness of Plessy, why did Rehnquist claim that the second memo--the one bearing Rehnquist's initials--represented Jackson's view of the case?...

The other person... Elsie Douglas, Jackson's secretary... told the Washington Post that... Rehnquist had "smeared the reputation of a great Justice." She challenged Rehnquist's assertion that Jackson would have asked a law clerk to help prepare the remarks he would deliver at a conference of the Justices.... She told Newsweek that Rehnquist's account was "incredible on its face."

Without resort to the statements by Cronson or Mrs. Douglas, Rehnquist's attribution to Jackson of the views in the... memo bearing Rehnquist's initials is challenged by internal evidence.... The titles of both memos are strikingly inappropriate to the use Rehnquist claims.... Is it possible that Jackson would have disparaged... "attempts... to protect minority rights"... when Jackson himself wrote many a decision protecting minority rights?...

Is it possible... Robert Jackson would have told his brother Justices... "I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by 'liberal colleagues, but I think Plessy... should be affirmed"? The "I" in that passage, according to Rehnquist, was supposed to be Jakcson... but where and when might Jackson have been excoriated by his "liberal" colleagues? And what colleagues might those have been?... A far more plausible explanation might be that the "I" of the memo is Rehnquist... referring to the obloquy... by his fellow clerks, who discussed the segregation question over lunch quite regularly, who were... "liberal." Suport for this surmise is lent by an article that Rehnquist wrote in... U.S. News and World Report.... "Some of the tenets of the 'liberal' point of view which commanded the sympathy of a majority of the clerks..." The tellale use of quotation marks around the word "liberal" adds to the suspicion that the "I" of the Rehnquist memo was never meant to be Robert Jackson speaking to his brethren... While Rehnquist claimed his memo was intended to convey Jackson's words and thoughts... the companion Cronson memo... is plainly a memo from a clerk to his Justice...

Posted by DeLong at July 2, 2003 03:30 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Don't you think, "in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are."
is in some sense true? Judges are selected by elected officials. As a result, the majority has some control over the judiciary, and the rights the judiciary gives to minorities usually fit into some kind of framework that the majority consents to. The Supreme Court didn't knock down Plessy until a critical mass of Americans thought it was wrong. They didn't knock down these stupid Sodomy Laws until a critical mass thought it was wrong.

The conclusions that the judiciary is unimportant or should not protect the minority does not follow however. One of the results of the judiciary is that legislation which is not in keeping with broader principles doesn't pass. MOST Americans support the right to freedom on Speach, but majorities will also often support the silencing of certain speach. People tend to experience high levels of cognitive dissonance, and the judiciary avoids some of that. It also makes sure the South has the same civil rights as the rest of the country.

Posted by: MDtoMN on July 2, 2003 04:08 PM

>>Don't you think, "in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are." is in some sense true?<<

Yes. But Rehnquist uses that doctrine as a reason for the Court to be completely passive on minority rights--to not enforce the law when it is distasteful to the majority, rather than enforcing the law until the majority changes it.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on July 2, 2003 04:24 PM

There's another point to make about minority rights: on some issue or another, *everyone* is a minority. Each group will on some matter or another be in a political minority.

This is how a liberal society evolved from a majority of Whites with racist views, and a minority of Blacks with no rights, into one in which Blacks and other types of minorities (i.e., not merely "racial" minorities) had legal rights... and racism was becoming a discreditied ideology. The majority began to see that the protection of minority rights would sooner or later protect their own rights, too.

Posted by: James R MacLean on July 2, 2003 06:01 PM

I once had a constitutional law professor who distinguished the majority of the moment, which should not have the ability to trample minority rights, from a longer term serious majority (long enough to elect a gov't which appoints supreme court justices to its liking) which is therefore entitled to trample minority rights. Rehnquist and his more right wing nutso buddies are unfortuneately tending towards being a manifestation of a longer term majority.


On the other hand, Rehnquist is a political hack.

Posted by: richard on July 2, 2003 07:11 PM

One of the worst features of America's flawed constitution is how decisions which should be made by elected officials are made by irremovable judges - far more than in any other democracy that I can think of. Rehnquist's individual views are therefore way too important. This menas that those decisions rarely settle arguments, because no democratic mandate can be claimed for them. OK, elected officials appoint judges, but at the end of the day those judges are irremovable unless they err spectacularly, while politicans have to face reelection anyway.

Still, I doubt it will be changed, not only because the American constitution is difficult to amend, but also because the fact that politicians don't have to make controversial decisions such as legalising abortion no doubt makes those politicians' lives much easier.

Posted by: PJ on July 3, 2003 12:19 AM

Thanks Brad for posting the full text of this infamous and slightly known memo. It is my contention that Rehnquist lied before the Senate when he claimed the great Justice Jackson penned his words. This man is lower than a political hack, he's a known racist who did his best to prevent the minority vote in AZ when he was a ReThuglican official down there. It's all in unrefuted testimony before the Senate for his confirmation hearings. But, hey, it's not like it's an impeachable offense, right? What's a little lying to further an evil end between friends or even dead mentors? It's a good thing he was up on his judicial impeachment lore. If he's still there when the next election [Laugh here] goes down and goodness knows, say a Democrat is elected, I'd say he'd be well advised to be retired by then. This man is a thug in black robes, always was, and ever remains. He was deeply involved in the internal maneuvers to place on the DC court of Appeals all his special right wing buds from the Federalist Society. Then they went ahead and essentially enabled a right wing Judicial coup in 1997-8. It happened here, In America. All the while Al Queda was plotting their terror campaign. Which was more important to the Justice? How do we measure morality here?

Posted by: VJ on July 3, 2003 01:25 AM

I was never anything so exalted as a Supreme Cour law clerk--I merely clerked for a state intermediate-level appellate judge. But as somebody who has written a large number of pre-argument memos to judges, this strikes me as amazingly lame from a technical point of view, quite apart from its conclusions. Glittering generalities; no detailed ananlysis of caselaw--a memo like this is absolutely useless to a judge.

You don't tell your judge, for example, that "Scott v. Sanford was the result of Taney's effort to protect the slaveholders from legislative interference" without proving you assertion by reference to the text of the opinion or other orignal source materials. Law at this level is , among other things, scholarship, and there is no scholarship in this memo.

The role of a law clerk is to work on the technical side of things, and leave the philosophizing to the judge. The memo shakes whatever confidence I might have in the man's competence as a lawyer, quite apart from its silly notion that Marbbury v Madison be abandoned for cases arising out of the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment.

Posted by: rea on July 3, 2003 05:42 AM

I've thought since it happened that Rehnquist should have been impeached for his role in the Nixon coverup. I never realized the extent to which there was never any excuse for letting him on the court in the first place.
His actions since appointment are fully consistent with this memo. Too bad for the country.

Posted by: Jonathan Goldberg on July 3, 2003 06:51 AM

Terrific comment -

"There's another point to make about minority rights: on some issue or another, *everyone* is a minority. Each group will on some matter or another be in a political minority.

"This is how a liberal society evolved from a majority of Whites with racist views, and a minority of Blacks with no rights, into one in which Blacks and other types of minorities (i.e., not merely "racial" minorities) had legal rights... and racism was becoming a discreditied ideology. The majority began to see that the protection of minority rights would sooner or later protect their own rights, too."

Posted by: anne on July 3, 2003 09:51 AM

"I once had a constitutional law professor who distinguished the majority of the moment, which should not have the ability to trample minority rights, from a longer term serious majority (long enough to elect a gov't which appoints supreme court justices to its liking) which is therefore entitled to trample minority rights."

Ay carrumba! I only hope that you're misremembering this!

Individuals have inalienable rights, given to them by their Creator. Is is to *secure those rights* that governments are instituted. (William Rehnquist, you ignoramous, have you ever even heard of this concept?!) Those are the ideals on which this country was founded.

Now, we have a Constitution. The ONLY way of legitimately changing the Constitution is by amendment. That requires 2/3rds of both houses of Congress, and majorities in 3/4ths of the state legislatures.

So those changes don't come from SIMPLE majorities (51% of the voters) wanting something over a "long term." The idea that the Constitution changes when enough people on the Supreme Court view the Constitution is a "new" or "different" way, is both wrong and dangerous. It's disgusting, if a Constitutional Law professor would imply that this is the case.

Also, the idea that any level of government is "entitled" to "trample rights" is a fundamental perversion of the ideals on which the country was founded.

Suppose there were sufficient votes (2/3rds of Congress, 3/4ths of state legislatures) to pass an amendment to the Constitution to allow the FBI to imprison people without charge, while the FBI investigated matters related to terrorism. The federal government would still NOT be "entitled" to "trample" the right of suspects to be at liberty, if they are not charged with crimes. That right to liberty is *inalienable,* and given by a *Creator.*

The fact that MAN'S laws don't protect rights doesn't mean that the government is "entitled" to "trample" those rights! First of all, government isn't "entitled" to anything. Governments have authorized powers, but no rights. Government aren't people. But more importantly, the moral foundation (the ideal) of this country is that individuals NEVER lose their rights. Governments may fail to protect rights, but that doesn't mean that individuals don't have those rights.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on July 3, 2003 09:52 AM

"The FDR-era "Switch in Time That Saved Nine," in which the Supreme Court decided to cease blocking New Deal measures rather than continue to do so and trigger the passage of constitutional amendments explicitly increasing the government's power to regulate the economy, was a principled recognition by the Court of the general principle that '...where a legislature was dealing with its own citizens, it was not part of the judicial function to thwart public opinion.'"

G@d protect us from such men. What an idiot! Next he's going to say, as Roosevelt did when trying to justify his Supreme Court packing, that the three branches of government are all supposed to pull together, like a team of horses. :-/

I took an undergraduate course on U.S. history from the late 20's to WWII. And I've read other materials about that era. I've never understood why the Supreme Court caved. Essentially every account I've ever read was that The People were outraged by Roosevelt's attempt to pack the Court. That should have given the Court *more* backbone...but instead, they caved. If anyone can point to any good written account explaining why the members of the Supreme Court caved, I'd be interested to read it.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on July 3, 2003 09:55 AM

They might have been frightened - it was probably the closest that the justices had been to the ordinary political process for a many years.

Posted by: Barry on July 3, 2003 11:17 AM

PJ wrote, "One of the worst features of America's flawed constitution is how decisions which should be made by elected officials are made by irremovable judges - far more than in any other democracy that I can think of." First, judges can be removed by impeachment. Second, this strikes me as a rather naive view of modern democratic praxis. At the other extreme is mob rule, of course. As for "...but also because the fact that politicians don't have to make controversial decisions such as legalising abortion no doubt makes those politicians' lives much easier," Stephen Holmes, in _Passions and Constraints_, made a good case that this is can be a *good* thing---by declaring "gag rules," whereby certain topics like religion are taken out of the public, political sphere, the State binds itself in a productive way: it can no longer waste its energies on unresolvable controversies and can then attend to more useful projects.

Mark Bahner wrote, "The ONLY way of legitimately changing the Constitution is by amendment." Gong! Never heard of a constitutional convention? Not that it would be a good idea.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on July 3, 2003 06:40 PM

"It is a very, very odd thing indeed for William Rehnquist to be Chief Justice of the United States of America."

Perhaps, but it is somewhat odd too to suggest the not too surprising overwrought comments of youth was held in full or in major part thirty five years later. For instance, Rehnquist also worried about law clerks skewering the justices ... does he still believe that given his experience on the other side of the glass?

Posted by: Joe on July 4, 2003 10:26 AM

Is it not also a bit strange to suggest that the usual overenthusiastic beliefs of youth continue to be held in full swing by someone over thirty years later?

His comments are surely questionable. For instance, were the Court's statements as to state-federal relations really "much less emotionally charged?" Did he not know of the "Nine Old Men" who overturned key New Deal provisions based on such issues?

Fletcher v. Peck applied the Contracts Clause to state action, that was the controversy; if the courts could not protect infringement of contracts per se, what is the value of the clause at all? Are the courts not to interpret its meaning at all? Also, it involved land grants ... not really that much of an "infant business."

Finally, I never heard of the case of Advins v. Children's Hospital ... It's "Adkins," thus I think another (sic) is required.

Posted by: Joe on July 4, 2003 10:39 AM

Is it not also a bit strange to suggest that the usual overenthusiastic beliefs of youth continue to be held in full swing by someone over thirty years later?

His comments are surely questionable. For instance, were the Court's statements as to state-federal relations really "much less emotionally charged?" Did he not know of the "Nine Old Men" who overturned key New Deal provisions based on such issues?

Fletcher v. Peck applied the Contracts Clause to state action, that was the controversy; if the courts could not protect infringement of contracts per se, what is the value of the clause at all? Are the courts not to interpret its meaning at all? Also, it involved land grants ... not really that much of an "infant business."

Finally, I never heard of the case of Advins v. Children's Hospital ... It's "Adkins," thus I think another (sic) is required.

Posted by: Joe on July 4, 2003 10:40 AM

Is it not also a bit strange to suggest that the usual overenthusiastic beliefs of youth continue to be held in full swing by someone over thirty years later?

His comments are surely questionable. For instance, were the Court's statements as to state-federal relations really "much less emotionally charged?" Did he not know of the "Nine Old Men" who overturned key New Deal provisions based on such issues?

Fletcher v. Peck applied the Contracts Clause to state action, that was the controversy; if the courts could not protect infringement of contracts per se, what is the value of the clause at all? Are the courts not to interpret its meaning at all? Also, it involved land grants ... not really that much of an "infant business."

Finally, I never heard of the case of Advins v. Children's Hospital ... It's "Adkins," thus I think another (sic) is required.

Posted by: Joe on July 4, 2003 10:41 AM

Is it not also a bit strange to suggest that the usual overenthusiastic beliefs of youth continue to be held in full swing by someone over thirty years later?

His comments are surely questionable. For instance, were the Court's statements as to state-federal relations really "much less emotionally charged?" Did he not know of the "Nine Old Men" who overturned key New Deal provisions based on such issues?

Fletcher v. Peck applied the Contracts Clause to state action, that was the controversy; if the courts could not protect infringement of contracts per se, what is the value of the clause at all? Are the courts not to interpret its meaning at all? Also, it involved land grants ... not really that much of an "infant business."

Finally, I never heard of the case of Advins v. Children's Hospital ... It's "Adkins," thus I think another (sic) is required.

Posted by: Joe on July 4, 2003 10:44 AM

Is it not also a bit strange to suggest that the usual overenthusiastic beliefs of youth continue to be held in full swing by someone over thirty years later?

His comments are surely questionable. For instance, were the Court's statements as to state-federal relations really "much less emotionally charged?" Did he not know of the "Nine Old Men" who overturned key New Deal provisions based on such issues?

Fletcher v. Peck applied the Contracts Clause to state contracts, that was the controversy; if the courts could not protect infringement of contracts per se, what is the value of the clause at all? Are the courts not to interpret its meaning at all? Also, it involved land grants ... not really that much of an "infant business."

Finally, I never heard of the case of Advins v. Children's Hospital ... It's "Adkins," thus I think another (sic) is required.

Posted by: Joe on July 4, 2003 10:46 AM

"It is indeed the case that a sufficiently large, determined, and durable majority could repeal the Thirteenth Amendment and reduce African-Americans to slavery, and repeal the First Amendment and establish a press completely controlled by the Ministry of Truth. But until those amendments are repealed, the prohibition against slavery and the freedom of the press are part of the supreme laws of the land that it is the business of the Supreme Court to enforce."

--Brad DeLong

Time for my daily cynicism workout. Aaah, the naivete of the professional (non-political-)economist. No amendments need to be overturned in order for the things you describe above to come about. All that is needed is the right economic policy combined with the sacred power of private property. Want blacks enslaved again? Just make sure they are economically segregated into neighborhoods that are lacking in both decent business investment and decent schools. Crime, law enforcement, and the correctional system will do the rest. Want a media system run by a Ministry of Truth? Simply allow the takeover (hostile or non-) of every major newspaper, radio and cable channel by a handful of major corporations that are working in close cooperation.

That which we call politics by any other name would stink to high heaven, even if that name is economics, and its time that those who are unhappy with the way this country is run should remember this.

[End of rant. I'll try to be a good boy now.]

Posted by: andres on July 4, 2003 02:20 PM

Youthful indiscretion. Yeah. That's it. Overenthusiasm. Yeah.

Posted by: zizka on July 5, 2003 09:24 AM

"Mark Bahner wrote, "The ONLY way of legitimately changing the Constitution is by amendment." Gong! Never heard of a constitutional convention?"

Heard of it. Didn't think of it, as it's so unlikely...we've had exactly zero constitutional conventions since the Constitution was first ratified. Plus, I think it's such a bad idea, that perhaps I was repressing. I can't imagine anything more foolish than letting the current crop of Democrats and Republicans erase the liberties that I still have on paper!

"Not that it would be a good idea."

I agree. It would be a terrible idea.

So I'll rewrite to, "The ONLY legitimate and wise way of changing the Constitution is to amend it."

Posted by: Mark Bahner on July 8, 2003 09:45 AM

"Mark Bahner wrote, "The ONLY way of legitimately changing the Constitution is by amendment." Gong! Never heard of a constitutional convention?"

Heard of it. Didn't think of it, as it's so unlikely...we've had exactly zero constitutional conventions since the Constitution was first ratified. Plus, I think it's such a bad idea, that perhaps I was repressing. I can't imagine anything more foolish than letting the current crop of Democrats and Republicans erase the liberties that I still have on paper!

"Not that it would be a good idea."

I agree. It would be a terrible idea.

So I'll rewrite to, "The ONLY legitimate and wise way of changing the Constitution is to amend it."

Posted by: Mark Bahner on July 8, 2003 09:55 AM
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