Thursday, February 9, 2012

Poor Backwards America

Since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told Egyptian audiences in Cairo that nations should use models of government other than the United States Constitution for their new constitutions, a small backlash has begun to grow larger. Ginsburg prefers South Africa’s constitution (South Africa’s?!), or the Canadian basic document which contains no less than eight specific prohibitions on freedom of speech and religion.

Letting no grass grow under its feet, Politico wrote a one-sided “news” article on the subject seemingly supporting Ginsburg’s view. The Politico article is entitled: “Study: Constitution in Decline,” and takes its impetus from a study done by David S. Law and Mila Versteeg entitled: “The Declining Influence of the United States Constitution.” The study was prepared for Washington University in St. Louis, and published in the New York University Law Review. To start with, there is a substantial difference between the Constitution in decline and the decline in influence of the American Constitution overseas. But I can’t disagree with the former, and the latter is a simple fact. Citing genuine statistics, the study concludes that “the US Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters everywhere.”

The authors looked at 729 constitutions adopted by 188 different countries from 1946 to 2006. They found that the influence of the US Constitution peaked in the 1990s at the end of the Cold War, then declined rapidly. This seems to be counterintuitive, but the statistics hold up.

There are many reasons why this might be true. The most obvious is the misplaced emphasis on “human rights” over individual rights. This is at least partially understandable. Many of the nations adopting new constitutions have little or no experience with self-rule, freedom, or the concept of ordered liberty. They are products of either the end of colonialism or the end of oppressive dictatorships. The siren song of “human rights” makes considerable sense taken in that context.

But most of these nations also have little experience with the ideals of private property ownership, contracts, and the rule of law rather than of men. Egypt and possibly Syria would be prime examples. Get rid of that nasty military dictator, replace him with democracy, and replace one-man rule with the goal of one man, one vote, one time. Egypt is quickly becoming openly hostile to America and its institutions, and its constitution is likely to look a lot more like the Koran than the US Constitution.

Another reason which hits closer to home is the activity of the “progressives” who have, starting with Woodrow Wilson, considered the Constitution to be a roadblock in the way of gross social experimentation and central government control of daily affairs. Ginsburg’s remarks bear that out. And shortly after Ginsburg made those remarks on foreign soil, Barack Obama followed up with a political speech demeaning the Constitution as being so creaky that it was impeding his efforts to fundamentally transform America.

With a few notable exceptions, administrations of both political parties have followed the liberal progression from self-government and the rule of law to government by decree and disrespect for the separation of powers so beautifully laid out in the Constitution. The prerogatives of Congress have been overcome by executive orders and bureaucratic diktats from the executive branch, all in derogation of the specific ground rules of the Constitution.

Another (perhaps minor) factor is the very recent use of foreign law in Supreme Court decisions. Foreign law has always been an element of court decisions where international treaties are involved. But even then, the Supreme Court has often interpreted treaties which are not self-actuating solely by use of American law and the Constitution. Lately, the four liberal members of the US Supreme Court have joined with a swing vote to render decisions citing foreign law that quote air-fairy “fundamental human rights.” The favor is not being returned. Foreign courts cite American constitutional decisions at a rapidly decreasing rate.

And finally, there’s the false argument that (in the words of the study): “No evolutionary process favors a specimen that is frozen in time. At least some of the responsibility for the declining global appeal of American Constitutionalism lies with the static character of the Constitution itself.” That is the argument of the intelligentsia, but the booboisie picks it up quickly.

The arguments include “the Constitution provided for slavery” (which it didn't) and “the Constitution denied women the right to vote.” Those arguments forget a fundamental fact. The Constitution is a bedrock document, and changing it was made purposely difficult. But it is not static, nor is it frozen in time. Those things which the original document got “wrong” or didn’t address were corrected or addressed in the Bill of Rights and all the subsequent amendments. When citing the Constitution, it is unfair and just plain wrong to refer only to the original document. The Constitution, as amended, is an integrated document balancing multiple rights with multiple restraints.

Simply put, as the Founders well recognized, the Constitution provides for the maximum amount of freedom without surrender to the will of temporary majorities. That latter concept is misunderstood throughout the world, and our indigenous left plays it for all it’s worth. Any document which prevents a nation from exercising what may seem to be “the will of the people” (on any given day) will be unpopular in nations which desire pure democracy—a concept which has failed every time it has ever been tried.

Anti-Constitutional, pro-democracy advocates should read history. The Founders certainly did. And their Republic, no thanks to progressive administrations, has stood the test of time since the proclamation of the Bill of Rights. But can it survive Barack Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Why should fledgling nations respect our Constitution when a sitting Supreme Court justice and our Chief Executive Officer don’t?

19 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

wonderfully said, Hawk. I have no respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg or B.O. Her comments, as a supreme court justice are inexcusable. I wish, after a Romney victory, she and her wealthy husband would move to South Africa where they could enjoy the superiority of their constitution. She could "recuse" herself so to speak.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: Thank you. The old saying is that politics stop at the water's edge. In case she's too senile to understand that, perhaps she would understand "abide by the Constitution at home, and don't trash-talk it overseas."

CrisD said...

"booboise" awesome!

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a disgrace. Tar and Feather time!

LawHawkRFD said...

CrisD: I'd love to take credit for it, but I think I stole it from H. L. Mencken.

Ginsburg is a doddering old lefty who has overstayed her welcome. She may set records for senile babbling that will ultimately put William O. Douglas out of first place.

tryanmax said...

*sigh* ...just... *sigh*

CrisD said...

I thought Mencken was the creature: Boobus Americanus, another funny one!

BevfromNYC said...

Yes, Ginsburg has joined Carter in the race to see who can out disparage the US the longest. Obama is their ideological love child. And the best part is that they do all on the tax-payers dime! Yea, us...makes me want to stop paying my taxes!

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: My reaction is a little different. Sigh, sputter, sputter, sigh, obscenity.

LawHawkRFD said...

CrisD: Yeah, he was a nasty critter, but infinitely quotable.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: I'm wondering where in the Constitution they find the authorization for ex-presidents and brain-dead justices to travel overseas on the taxpayers' money.

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk - Apparently until Carter, Obama, and Ginsburg started demeaning the US, we didn't have to worry about the tax-payers dime. Now I guess we need to think about why we fund these kinds of anti-American screeds. But then maybe we are just hearing about it more now that we have the world wide interwebs. I'm sure Ford and Reagan would demean us too, we just didn't hear about it...riiiight.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: That's so true, including the tongue-in-cheek part. Even if they paid their own way, there's still that Secret Service contingent that we're paying for. And none of us minded much when they were all American ambassadors of good will. Now we're paying for hack politicians and lawless justices to insult and demean American on foreign soil.

T-Rav said...

Exactly the sort of thing I would expect Washington U to be involved in. NY, of course, goes without saying.

The reason Ginsburg and her fellow twits love the constitutions abroad (in my opinion) is that they are so much more detailed than ours is. There's a provision for every walk of life, which makes it that much easier for their technocrats to manage society. It's all about elite control, in the end.

Rubio had a good line about all this at CPAC this morning, but I can't remember now what it was.

tryanmax said...

LawHawk, I guess I'm just tired today.

StanH said...

This is alarming, but not unexpected. We are seeing a left that is all in, with the ascension of their Barry. With this there is finally an opportunity to have it out with the left, and settle the direction of the country. Ginsburg is just the latest one to fully expose her and the left for what they are, anti-American hacks who have deceived the country for decades - -I say lets have this debate, finally. If 2010 is an indicator the left has overstepped, we’ll see.

Individualist said...

"the influece of the American Constitution is in decline"

Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she ignores 1,000,000 Tea Partiers on the Washington Mall

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: You nailed it. Corruptisima republica, plurimae leges (the more corrupt the republic, the more laws it has). Liberals are unable to accept a free society with a basic set of rules (the Constitution) that allow for each individual's full development while restraining excess at both the individual and governmental levels. A simple, succinct, foundational document flummoxes them. We must have laws--lots of laws--most of them in conflict with each other, and none containing the simple concept of equal justice under law. And if you need lots of laws, you need lots of lawyers. A double-whammy.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: I've known for many years, in both the political and legal arenas that liberals have contempt for the Constitution. But it does surprise me that at this juncture, with a conservative groundswell taking place, they would choose to out themselves so vocally, so universally, and without any restraint on where they say it. Progressivism has advanced to the point it has reached today by poisoning the body politic in small doses of which the average person is either unaware or sees as something good because of the way the propaganda was presented. This latest round of attacks on the Constitution seems like a very strange way to gain their agenda when it is already being exposed on multiple fronts.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: It's a lot of wishful thinking by the progressives, at least here at home. They may have just stepped in it this time. But the study and the Politico article are right that its influence has declined steeply outside the country, and the MSM have assisted in the decline in America by ignoring or spinning comments like the recent ones made by Ginbsburg and Obama. They forget that a growing number of Americans no longer trust them or believe them, and have found other ways to watch their politicians and functionaries perform their nefarious duties.

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