Advertisements

Fred Schwarz on Conservative and Liberal Views of the Constitution: ‘Rules vs Tools’

supreme-court-ext

“Conservatives see the Constitution as a set of rules that must be followed, while liberals see it as a box of tools that can be used to put their policies into effect.”

Fred Schwarz writes:

…Progressives (or technocrats) act as if the Constitution had a hidden clause: “The purpose of this document is to promote equality and fairness, and every part of it must be interpreted in accordance with that goal.” We’ve all heard the story about the time Learned Hand, after lunch with Oliver Wendell Holmes, said in parting, “Do justice, sir,” to which Holmes shook his head and replied, “My job is to apply the law.” This story would bewilder a modern progressive, to whom those are just two slightly different ways of saying, “Enact progressive social policy.

And if you have to use a chisel as a screwdriver or bang in nails with a pair of pliers, it’s no problem as long as the thing gets built.”

I wrote in a book review once that the basic distinction between Right and Left when it comes to the Constitution is “rules vs. tools”: Conservatives see the Constitution as a set of rules that must be followed, while liberals see it as a box of tools that can be used to put their policies into effect. And if you have to use a chisel as a screwdriver or bang in nails with a pair of pliers, it’s no problem as long as the thing gets built.

[Read the full text here, at National Review Online]

It’s not so much a matter of ends justifying means as of ends creating means: If a given interpretation will lead to “social justice,” that in itself makes the interpretation correct. This principle turns the 14th Amendment into a Swiss Army knife and the Commerce Clause into a roll of duct tape. They devise new uses for dusty old buggy whips like the 13th Amendment, and even the forlorn Third Amendment was pulled out of the back of a drawer somewhere to be cited in Griswold v. Connecticut (and is now being invoked by the Left and the Right to oppose NSA surveillance). And they think nothing of turning the strictest rules on their heads, so that “shall not discriminate on account of race” means “must discriminate on account of race” and “freedom of speech” requires restricting speech. What, you thought these provisions actually mean what they explicitly say? Only until they get weaponized by a progressive…(read more)

National Review Online

 

Advertisements


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.