On April 9th, Powerline apprised us of The Constitution in 2020, a conference that took place at Yale on April 8th through 10th. The intent was to determine how to rewrite the US Constitution as a “progressive” document.
Some of you will say, “Why bother, isn’t the Constitution already being re-written with assistance from the Federal Courts?” The answer to the second half of that question is “yes”, the answer to the first half is that the conferees consider the courts to be quite right-wing. In their view, judicial assistance in implementation of a “progressive” agenda is definitely lackluster.
You may have already been aware of this conference, but since it does tell us quite a bit about far-left ideas; I think it worth revisiting. If you were unaware, you should take your blood pressure meds before proceeding.
A blog was established prior to the conference wherein much of the conference content was anticipated. Reading this is slow going due to the tendentious academia-speak. However, it does shine a light on far-left statism – insofar as illumination of these nooks and crannies is feasible.
Lest you think this was some lofty exploration of constitutional principle in a liberal democracy, it featured concrete collectivist proposals. For example, it was anticipated that every young adult should “inherit” $80,000 from their Uncle Sam. According to Bruce Ackerman, LL.B., Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale Law School;
Each American citizen should receive a substantial stake (Alstott and I argue for $80,000) when starting out in life as a young adult. Each citizen should be free to use his stake for any project he thinks best. Stakeholding will give renewed meaning to the Declaration’s promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” by giving young adults the wherewithall [sic] to shape their lives at a moment when most of them are living from paycheck to paycheck.
Never mind that most young adults who live paycheck to paycheck do so because they don’t know how to handle money and haven’t learned to anticipate the future. I.e., there’s often too much “pursuit of happiness” already.
Never mind that every parent in America knows better, they won’t be paying for it… at least monetarily. Funding for this giveaway is proposed via a 2% tax on income over $450,000.
This is such a bad idea that only an Ivy League intellectual could have come up with it and only a bunch of other ILIs could have listened with straight faces.
The most common sense that could be mustered involved some conferees demurral from specifying this in the new constitution proper. They prefer to have a constitution that strongly implies it, giving you a good glimpse of the frustration a statist faces in grappling with the concept of rule by law and not by men. And the futility of the attempt.
It isn’t surprising, but it is certainly irritating, to see that they plan to do this through taxation. If he had the courage of their convictions, George Soros (a main conference sponsor) could set up a fund for the purpose all by himself, instead of giving multi-millions to the Open Society Institute, MoveOn, ACT, People for the American Way, etc.. He prefers putting tax money where his mouth is when it comes to the real work of the left-statist agenda.
The conferees do speak of this windfall as requiring citizenship, but elsewhere in their musings there is (no surprise) speculation about how to grant non-citizens the same rights as citizens. As Rachel F. Moran points out:
…there are other instances of great significance, not least of which are initiatives to change the electoral process in fundamental ways to allow non-citizens to vote…
Powerline’s summary of other major points is worth reading, but a look at FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights” also provides (a somewhat shorter) insight into the “progressive” agenda. It is worth your attention.
Think of the Constitution as a speed-bump on the way to fundamental change in your relationship to the state. The conference attendees admit that they consider the courts open to the same advocacy strategies as legislatures. Someone named Deborah Cantrell points out:
We have had some colloquy about whether it might be best to advocate through the courts, the federal or state legislatures, or in combination… when we push for a particular interpretation of the Constitution that will have to be created through litigation…
This is the same crowd who support restricting your ability to lobby legislatures under McCain-Feingold. But, for their lobbying even judges are fair game.
I detect a pattern.
They obviously also like to do this through the executive, and I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned. As Clinton adviser Paul Begala said of Clinton’s 300+ executive orders, “Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kind of cool.”
If the conference organizers had asked me about it, I could have saved their time and George Soros’ money. They should have cut to the chase and adopted the draft Constitution of the European Union as their goal.
Its 70,000 words provide all the maneuvering room they’d need to enshrine the judicial amendment process and it would tickle Justices Ginsberg, Kennedy and Breyer pink, so to speak, to see European law officially imported to the US. They’d no longer have to look outside our borders to justify their decisions.
What could be more satisfying for them than saying to Justice Scalia, “Told you so!”?
And what couldn’t a creative judge do with language like this from Chapter VI, Article III-227-10 of the EU Constitution:
The Council of Ministers, on a proposal from the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Commission, shall adopt a European decision suspending application of an agreement and establishing the positions to be adopted on the Union’s behalf in a body set up by an agreement, when that body is called upon to adopt acts having legal effects, with the exception of acts supplementing or amending the institutional framework of the agreement.
I remember when Michigan rewrote its Constitution 40 odd years ago. The process of the Constitutional Convention was abbreviated by the press to “Con Con”.
The Yale conference can also be called the con con – without having to abbreviate anything.