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Tags: constitutional | framers | kavanaugh

To Preserve Freedom, Trump's Agenda Must Succeed

To Preserve Freedom, Trump's Agenda Must Succeed
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

By    |   Monday, 17 September 2018 03:24 PM EDT

​It's becoming clearer that those opposing the current administration not only loathe our president, but are actively hostile to our Constitution.

They are not the first moderns to question the continuing authority of that document.

In 1987, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall wondered why we still felt bound by the original meaning of a compact that was two centuries old; a document that preserved slavery, and was drafted by 55 white men — many of whom were slaveholders.

At the time of the Constitution's ratification ( in 1789), women could not vote; in many states, one had to have landed property to be able to exercise that franchise.

Even in the North, most African-Americans were disenfranchised.

The Constitution, though, is far from a democratic screed. Our Framers did indeed create the Constitution as a check on the people. That is because many of the Framers themselves believed the people were too subject to the blandishments of demagogues — and the financially corrupt.

The Framers worried that too many of the state governments were controlled by the unscrupulous and irresponsible, and that, if the nation was to survive, it needed a national government devoted to the preservation life, liberty — and private property.

Our progressives (or latter day socialists) who believe in levelling and redistribution, of course, cannot tolerate these constitutional restraints. The Constitution’s past history of approving blatant discrimination and enslavement of African-Americans, as Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., recently reminded us, is for many a fatal taint.

And yet, when the American people are so inclined, the Constitution can be amended, as it was following the Civil War, and done so to ban slavery and also to ensure equal protection, due process, the franchise, and the privileges and immunities of citizens to newly freed blacks.

A Constitutional Amendment belatedly gave women the right to vote as well, though it was not until well into the 20th century that this right became universal in this country.

The Constitution may now need some additional amendments, targeted at restraining what has come to be the administrative, or, as President Trump likes to call it, the "deep state," an entrenched bureaucracy bent on preserving its own prerogatives; one hardly operating in the interests of most Americans.

Paradoxically, however, for a document which in some ways checked the arbitrary power of the people, the Framers' "constitutional scheme" embraced the notion that the federal government was one of limited and enumerated powers.

The central government was assigned the regulation of interstate commerce, the conduct of foreign affairs, and the maintenance of the national currency. But most matters were still left to the governments closest to the people, the state and local bodies.

In the latter part of the 20th century, and the early part of the 21st, this was all but forgotten. Thus, the federal government expanded into every aspect of American life.

In the late 18th century, the problem may have been abusive state governments which suspended debts and contracts, and rendered property uncertain. We now have a different problem. The desire for the taming of the federal leviathan is what best explains the rise of Donald Trump.

President Trump has understood that his judicial appointments will determine whether the Framers’ original scheme of a federal government of limited and enumerated powers will survive.

No wonder then, that the bureaucrats, representatives, and senators of the Democratic Party (and, indeed, some Republicans), who had consolidated their own power through the federal government, now understand their political misdeeds are threatened.

Little wonder either that these same forces have resorted to unscrupulous maneuvering and unwonted smearing of personal reputation, as has been done lately with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, and as was done by Obama administration officials in the manufactured Russia collusion narrative.

President Trump has often been wrongly derided as an autocrat, but in returning us closer to the conception of the Framers, and in returning power to the governments closest to the people, he is fulfilling the goal of the 1789 document. Washington D.C. and its suburbs have become one of the wealthiest parts of our country because of the massive misappropriation of the nation’s resources.

This was not the way it was supposed to be.

In restricting the federal government, however, and in enforcing a strict separation of powers and federalism (so that the judiciary and the executive were barred from legislating, and the legislature was barred from unduly entrenching on the prerogatives of the state and local governments), the Framers actually furthered the goal of popular sovereignty.

Ours was not a nation designed to be authoritatively ruled by a dictatorial central government.

The outrage of those who find their power and influence reduced and their ill-gotten gains diminishing is understandable, but the program this president has undertaken, inclusive of his judicial appointments, are laudable and must be allowed a chance to succeed.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The outrage of those who find their power and influence reduced and their ill-gotten gains diminishing is understandable, but the program this president has undertaken, inclusive of his judicial appointments, are laudable and must be allowed a chance to succeed.
constitutional, framers, kavanaugh
Monday, 17 September 2018 03:24 PM
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