Bill Whittle: “How to steal power” or “Turning the Constitution upside-down”

Posted by: Phineas on October 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Bill’s back with another episode of Afterburner, this time taking a look at how progressives (including Supreme Court justices) have regularly twisted (and even tortured) the plain meaning of the Constitution to get what they want, rather than what the document allows. Bill focuses on two much-abused clauses in Article I, section 8, “General Welfare” and “Commerce,” to show that, interpreted in the progressive manner, as part of a “Living Constitution,” (1) these clauses stop being limits on government’s power and instead become grants of unlimited power.

My own view is that of originalism, that the document has to be read as the Convention and the ratifying states intended. Where the language is plain, as in…

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

…then the argument ends. In more ambiguous sections (often due to 18th century grammar and style), we can use our reason (2) and examine primary sources of the time, such as the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, the records of the Constitutional Convention, and the contemporaneous state constitutions to figure out what was intended.

And where the powers delegated to the federal government under the Constitution are inadequate to meet a truly national or multi-state issue, there’s this little thing called Article V that provides a means to rewrite the rules in a manner best-suited to creating consensus — unlike diktats from imperialist judges divining the current meaning of the living constitution from its penumbras and emanations.

Any other way is just stealing power.

(1) Just to be fair to the other side, Strauss’ recent book, The Living Constitution, has been receiving good reviews. It never hurts to know the other guys’ arguments.
(2) Contra Ezra Klein, it’s not hard.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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6 Responses to “Bill Whittle: “How to steal power” or “Turning the Constitution upside-down””


  1. Brontefan says:

    Because I returned to college as a functional adult, over 40, in pursuit of my Masters…I discovered a whole new breed of professors. Aside from the fact that nearly ALL were liberals, some were Progressives, and some admitted Marxists. The new study was deconstruction..which for those of you, like me, who were aghasted by this–is when you study something extensively to rip it apart in a clever way, destroy it, and alter its meaning. As a 19th Century British literature major… who loves the literature, I was shocked to find my Victorian Lit professor, who had an undergrad degree in physics, come onto the scene to destroy everything I loved about the literature. I believe Obama is a deconstructionist–along with many others in DC, who only want to rip the US Constitution to shreds, manipulate it, and alter this country into a full blown Marxist state. We have Obama using Exec orders to bypass Congress.. which is just one step away from dictator. It’s outrageous and heart-breaking.

  2. Lorica says:

    We have Obama using Exec orders to bypass Congress..

    He does this so he can campaign on how disfunctional Congress is, since he has no accomplishments to run on.

    To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,

    Hmmmm This line sorta makes amnesty illegal.

    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    To provide and maintain a Navy;

    Just to poke fun at Zach: Why does the Constitution use the term “militia” in the 2nd Amendment, but talks about a professional military here?? Could it be that We the Collective have an individual responsibility for the national defense?

    Ohhh lookie here, we have an answer and don’t even have to waste our time with Zach’s blah blah blah.

    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions

    Yes We the Collective do have a responsiblity for the Defence of this country!! – Lorica

  3. Carlos says:

    Deconstruction of the Constitution began over 1-1/2 centuries ago, with the Civil War.

    A good and just cause, no doubt, but the real beginning of the end of the Tenth Amendment.

    And teachers since 1960 have been taught this deconstruction in college, and pass it on in high school now, all the while pleading that the Constitution “works.”

    It just needs some reasonable tweaking from our erudite elite.

  4. Brontefan says:

    Carlos, the repeal of the 17th Amendment would help! Then, Senators would actually be forced to represent their state governments instead of themselves! I agree but the concept of deconstruction as a legitimate academic practice is much younger… and for a literature major.. it is outrageously dishonest. And the history books available today are horrible–filled with liberal lies and distortions.

  5. John says:

    Brontefan, I have been advocating that for years, but I just can’t see it happening. The Senate would fight it, and so would their lobbyists.