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Author Topic: The American Constitution  (Read 33686 times)

Rob C

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The American Constitution
« on: May 31, 2019, 08:49:30 am »

I refer, in the above, to the political one; just a tiny effort to give the subject its own space without causing yet more confusion, distraction, misunderstanding and downright fake infomation in the Brexit one.

;-)

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2019, 09:21:30 am »

The U.S. Constitution, and its Bill of Rights, is the most beautiful document in the history of the mankind.

EDIT for a typo.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2019, 03:24:07 pm by Slobodan Blagojevic »
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Rob C

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2019, 09:31:38 am »

The U.S. Constitution, and its Bill of Rights, is the most beatiful document in the history of the mankind.

I admire the ardent faith of the convert!

;-)

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2019, 09:39:34 am »

I admire the ardent faith of the convert!

No need for conversion, I admired it from a distance, and continue to do so once here. While walking the streets of Washington D.C., seeing its quotes on monuments and historic buildings still brings tears to my eyes.

It helps to occasionally snap out of our usual jaded and cynical selves and see the underlying values behind our mundane existence.

RSL

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2019, 09:55:22 am »

To me the most interesting thing about the Constitution is that for the first time in human history our predecessors established a republic based on a founding document – an anchor -- upon which subsequent U.S. law has been based. The Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights ran counter to the history of humanity and gave power to the people, but it was power filtered through a network of restrictions that prevented it from becoming what the French Revolution became. The electoral college was a fundamental guarantee that we wouldn’t bring in tumbrils and the guillotine. Now we have a number of states choosing to give their electoral college vote to a national majority. Can tumbrils and the guillotine be far behind? Far-fetched? Check the Salem witch trials, lynchings in the south for decades after the Civil war and the day-care sex-abuse hysteria in the 1980’s. An ill-informed majority can be deadly.

rabanito

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2019, 10:09:34 am »

To me the most interesting thing about the Constitution is that for the first time in human history our predecessors established a republic based on a founding document ...

AFAIK even the Swiss Constitution is based on the USC
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2019, 10:12:28 am »

Check the Salem witch trials, lynchings in the south for decades after the Civil war and the day-care sex-abuse hysteria in the 1980’s. An ill-informed majority can be deadly.
Salem witch trials preceded the Constitution and the day care incidents were examples of improper law enforcemtne.  Only the southern lynchings were violative of the Constitution.
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RSL

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2019, 10:19:17 am »

Yes, Alan. I'm quite aware of all that. But all three examples are cases where an ignorant mob took over with catastrophic results. That's the direction in which abdication of state majorities in the Electoral College vote is leading us.

Alan Goldhammer

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2019, 10:22:27 am »

Russ writes on the Brexit thread:  "There was nothing “vague” about the Constitution, much as the left would like to believe that. Unfortunately, as TS Eliot pointed out: “Words strain, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, Under the tension, slip, slide, perish, Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, Will not stay still.” So the intent of amendments has been to keep the “originalism,” which you disdain, but to apply it to changes in our condition and in our understanding of the meaning of words. All in all the effort has been been pretty damn effective.

Jeremy: yes, we probably could give up our guns, as Britain has. Then we could kill each other with knives – same thing that’s going on in London at a great rate. The problem is people, not guns or knives."


It's not that I disdain "originalism" but that I find it ill-defined and given the long history of Supreme Court decisions, a poor measure to use.  One can argue that the Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson, Marbury v Madison, Martin v Hunter's Lessee and many other decisions handed down by the Court were in keeping with "orginalism."  Similarly, one can argue that Bush v Gore was an example of the Court going against "originalism."  "Originalism" ends up, as pornography, something that is in the eye of the beholder and everyone will have different views on the topic.  Constitutional scholars have fought over this matter for years.

Regarding the 2nd amendment which Russ refers to, one has to note that the Federal government already has bans on certain weapons.  They have struck down statutes in some states as well as the District of Columbia that sought to regulate firearms.  If we are to believe that States are empowered to pass laws in accordance with the 10th amendment, are not these Supreme Court decisions against the "originalism" concept.

I can remember back to when I took Constitutional Law in college that many of these issues were subject to hot discussion.  Things have not changed in the fifty years since I studied this.
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2019, 10:29:13 am »

Yes, Alan. I'm quite aware of all that. But all three examples are cases where an ignorant mob took over with catastrophic results. That's the direction in which abdication of state majorities in the Electoral College vote is leading us.
It is not inconceivable that President Trump could be re-elected in 2020 and lose the popular vote by a much greater margin than in 2016.  Do you not think that this would lead to a catastrophic result?  The Electoral College section of the Constitution was written for a specific time and place.  It will never be overturned by an amendment because the smaller states would never allow their 'power' of vote to be diminished.  I think by 2050 (vaguely remembering this date), 70% of the Senators will represent 30% of the American populace.  This sounds more like a recipe for minority rule than majority.  I can only see the legislative process getting worse than better.
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RSL

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2019, 10:50:17 am »

Russ writes on the Brexit thread:  "There was nothing “vague” about the Constitution, much as the left would like to believe that. Unfortunately, as TS Eliot pointed out: “Words strain, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, Under the tension, slip, slide, perish, Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, Will not stay still.” So the intent of amendments has been to keep the “originalism,” which you disdain, but to apply it to changes in our condition and in our understanding of the meaning of words. All in all the effort has been been pretty damn effective.

Jeremy: yes, we probably could give up our guns, as Britain has. Then we could kill each other with knives – same thing that’s going on in London at a great rate. The problem is people, not guns or knives."


It's not that I disdain "originalism" but that I find it ill-defined and given the long history of Supreme Court decisions, a poor measure to use.  One can argue that the Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson, Marbury v Madison, Martin v Hunter's Lessee and many other decisions handed down by the Court were in keeping with "orginalism."  Similarly, one can argue that Bush v Gore was an example of the Court going against "originalism."  "Originalism" ends up, as pornography, something that is in the eye of the beholder and everyone will have different views on the topic.  Constitutional scholars have fought over this matter for years.

Regarding the 2nd amendment which Russ refers to, one has to note that the Federal government already has bans on certain weapons.  They have struck down statutes in some states as well as the District of Columbia that sought to regulate firearms.  If we are to believe that States are empowered to pass laws in accordance with the 10th amendment, are not these Supreme Court decisions against the "originalism" concept.

I can remember back to when I took Constitutional Law in college that many of these issues were subject to hot discussion.  Things have not changed in the fifty years since I studied this.

Somehow we muddle through, Alan, even though we make a lot of mistakes. Yes, the popular vote difference may increase. But do you really want to be governed by New York and California? Check the runaway increase of infectious diseases in LA, for instance. I don't want to be governed by Cal, and I think it's just splendid that a majority of the Senate has been put in place by smaller states. The left still has the House.

Oh, and by the way, I think our next election will be a Republican blowout unless the Democrats come down off the clouds and stop chasing their impeachment flag.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2019, 10:54:27 am by RSL »
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Krug

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2019, 11:26:11 am »

The problem with any Constitution - be it written in 1787 or an 'unwritten' one based on common Law such as that of the United Kingdom - is that without sometimes radical revision over time it can relate to circumstances that have changed out of all recognition.  Fundamental rights and principles may remain inviolate but the interpretation of those will need to be reviewed and probably updated.   For example it is unarguably clear that for good historical reasons the second Amendment was written to prevent a standing army such as that which had assisted in the persecution of the original settlers in America - both before and after they had immigrated.  In an age were the USA has one of the largest and most sophisticated standing armies and weapons themselves have developed far beyond 18th century muskets even that most 'sacred' of constitutional elements it might be thought in need of some revision.
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2019, 11:36:28 am »

Somehow we muddle through, Alan, even though we make a lot of mistakes. Yes, the popular vote difference may increase. But do you really want to be governed by New York and California? Check the runaway increase of infectious diseases in LA, for instance. I don't want to be governed by Cal, and I think it's just splendid that a majority of the Senate has been put in place by smaller states. The left still has the House.

Oh, and by the way, I think our next election will be a Republican blowout unless the Democrats come down off the clouds and stop chasing their impeachment flag.
The big issue for me these days is voter disenfranchisement.  Look at what is happening in Florida.  The electorate in pretty much a bipartisan breakdown voted to let convicted felons vote once they paid their debt to society.  Now the Republican Legislature wants to put some barriers in place.  I'm also against Gerrymandering in every state including my own (Maryland which has really bizarre boundaries that eliminated a Republican district). 

I don't know about the infectious disease rates in LA but the worst of the opioid epidemic is in regions that voted heavily for Trump; go figure.  I think there is a better than even chance that the House might start an Impeachment inquiry that would give them much more authority to subpoena information about the President.  Were the President to refuse, that would be clear obstruction as was the case when Nixon initially refused to turn over Watergate information.  Personally, I think there is a lot of very dicey stuff in the Trump companies finances and this is the prime reason the President has gone back on his campaign promise to release his taxes.  The dealings with Deutsche Bank are only the tip of the iceberg.  I don't think the 2020 election will be a blowout if the House goes down the route of just doing an inquiry, there are too many solid Democratic states for that to happen.  However, if the voter suppression efforts continue he could win the electoral vote again.  The Democratic candidate will get a plurality of the popular vote in the neighborhood of 5 million votes./
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2019, 11:41:25 am »

The problem with any Constitution - be it written in 1787 or an 'unwritten' one based on common Law such as that of the United Kingdom - is that without sometimes radical revision over time it can relate to circumstances that have changed out of all recognition.  Fundamental rights and principles may remain inviolate but the interpretation of those will need to be reviewed and probably updated.   For example it is unarguably clear that for good historical reasons the second Amendment was written to prevent a standing army such as that which had assisted in the persecution of the original settlers in America - both before and after they had immigrated.  In an age were the USA has one of the largest and most sophisticated standing armies and weapons themselves have developed far beyond 18th century muskets even that most 'sacred' of constitutional elements it might be thought in need of some revision.
I just finished reading Jill Lepore's fine history of the US, "These Truths: A History of the United States."  I found it a very informative read.  One point she raised about the current 2nd Amendment stuff which I had forgotten about was the role the Black Panthers played in preventing gun control in the 1970s.  The Oakland chapter was armed to the teeth with legal purchases and there was a lot of concern at the time that there would be a "standing black army."   I continue to believe that a lot of gun purchases or illegal acquisitions are racially motivated on both sides based on fear.
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RSL

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2019, 12:05:24 pm »

I think there is a better than even chance that the House might start an Impeachment inquiry that would give them much more authority to subpoena information about the President.

Let's hope they do. That'll insure a Republican victory in 2020. The Repubs probably will get back the House along with hanging on to the presidency. All in all a development much to be desired.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2019, 12:10:37 pm »

... I think by 2050 (vaguely remembering this date), 70% of the Senators will represent 30% of the American populace.  This sounds more like a recipe for minority rule than majority....

Oh, for God's sake, Alan, you are an educated man, you surely know that's by design. Senate is not designed to represent the populace, but to represent states. In any federal state, there is an attempt to create a balance between proportional representation (population ) and parity representation (territories).

RSL

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2019, 12:13:36 pm »

I suspect Alan isn't sure about the difference between a democracy and a constitutional republic.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2019, 12:20:31 pm »

The beauty of the US Constitution is in the fact that it is based on timeless principles, not current fads.

In my previous home country, I witnessed several constitutional changes in the relatively short period I lived there. Not amendments, mind you, but whole new constitutions. The last one was like 200 pages long and contained such current-fad idiocies like workers right to a lunch break (not that I think lunch break is idiocy, but putting it in a country's constitution is).

Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2019, 12:26:22 pm »

Oh, for God's sake, Alan, you are an educated man, you surely know that's by design. Senate is not designed to represent the populace, but to represent states. In any federal state, there is an attempt to create a balance between proportional representation (population ) and parity representation (territories).

Alan K. must love that principle, being governed by a 'foreign' state ...  ;D

Cheers,
Bart
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: The American Constitution
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2019, 01:52:09 pm »

Oh, for God's sake, Alan, you are an educated man, you surely know that's by design. Senate is not designed to represent the populace, but to represent states. In any federal state, there is an attempt to create a balance between proportional representation (population ) and parity representation (territories).
thanks for encouraging me to depart the Coffee Corner one more time.  I was reluctant to revisit it based on past experience and thought that I might make a contribution to a topic that I have a considerable amount of knowledge on.  Once again I'm insulted and pushed out.  Adieu and I can't use the term mes amis as it looks like I have precious few on this section of the forum.  I'll be careful an confine my postings to the technical sections of LuLa for the short period that it lives on.

Have fun with the ongoing food fight.
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