This is the third part in a series by C. Augustus Landis
In Parts I and II of this essay, I argue there is a sameness between manifestos of Karl Marx and the Socialists Democrat Party. Both want to change the established order of things and require changes in our Constitution. The Administrative State, the vast federal bureaucracy, raises serious concerns about separation of powers and rule of law, but progressive advocates of a Living Constitution raise more far-reaching concerns.
Those who believe the Constitution should be interpreted as was written and intended by the framers are known as “originalists.” Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers believed that our security and the strength of our form of governance was based upon a written Constitution and Jefferson said …“Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.” Meaning, the Constitution is a legal document, and as all legal documents always is meant to reflect the intent of the authors. It is to be interpreted by the judiciary in accordance with the intention.
Justice Scalia put the question of interpretation simply by saying “ the ‘Constitution says something and doesn’t say other things.” He and other conservatives and originalist believe as society changes, accommodation is provided for by amendment or by legislatures. .As Hamilton said in Federalist 78, judges should not substitute their own pleasure to the constitutional intentions of the legislature.”
The concept of a living Constitution has been around for more than 100 years. In 1912, Woodrow Wilson wrote “Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice” and “ Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life.”…and “the need is to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle”. In this view and of other progressives, the Constitution must evolve over time as society changes and looking only at original intent and meaning ignores evolving changes in the meaning of freedom/liberty, equality, social justice, and rights. What Marx called the class struggle between bourgeoise and proletariat, the Socialist Democrats call social and economic justice.
Just as the Civil War was caused by two different views of the Constitution (union vs disunion or slavery) so also may the division of today be defined by the two different views of originalist vs. living interpretation views of the Constitution. Much has been written and debated about these two views of the Constitution ; not so much about how this relates to the Socialist Democrat Party as is needed.
The Republican/Conservative view is considered as originalist and the Socialist Democrat Party must, by definition, require interpretation as provided by a Living Constitution. Amendment and legislation is not in their playbook because of difficulties in process, and changes can be achieved by Administrative State law, and judicial interpretation is sought by new interpretations. Most importantly, as these relate to new rights and new demands for responsibilities of governance.
I n an essay titled A LIVING CONSTITUTION? , Ernest van den Haag, Distinguished Scholar at the Heritage Foundation, defines the difference between the two different views of the Constitution simply as those who wish to conform the Constitution to judicial decisions and to legislation they deem to be desirable without the trouble of going through the amendment process ,and those who wish judicial decisions and legislation to conform to the Constitution until amended.
A Living Constitution interpretation serves the Progressive Socialist Democrats in two of their most important objectives: the elimination of the Electoral College and establishment of the many new rights and obligations of government.
Trent England, a distinguished Constitutional scholar, in a speech deliver delivered to the Center for Constitutional Studies in Washington, DC, argues that the fundamental danger of attacks on the originalist interpretation is that they undermine the Constitution as a whole, and the arguments of a Living Constitution can be turned against any of the constitutional checks and balances that have well served America for well over 200 years. The measure should be whether the Constitution has been effective in encouraging a just, stable, and free government.
The manifesto of the Socialist Democrat Party, as evidenced by statements of nearly two dozen presidential contenders, establishes many new rights: free medical care, guaranteed annual income and standard of living, housing, free college, child care, forgiveness of student debt… and something new added constantly.
Socialism demands a permanent underclass and division by identity.
C. Augustus Landis