The Woke Constitution
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
To those who wonder why the Founding Fathers made the United States Constitution so difficult to amend, we commend the series the Boston Globe is publishing under the headline “Editing the Constitution.” It reckons that our national parchment “is undergoing massive changes in the Supreme Court” and that it’s “time to put the founding document in the hands of the people.”
Bah, humbug, we say. It adds up to one of the most cockamamie compendiums that’s ever been compiled in respect of the 8,000 or so words of the compact that every officer, judge, and legislator of the federal, state, and county governments must be bound by oath to support. If Geo. Washington, James Madison, and the boys ever happened onto this issue of the Globe, they’d fall out of their knee socks.
The series starts with a proposed rewrite of the first two amendments. Freedom of speech would get diluted to freedom of “expression” and have to be “consistent with the rights of others to the same and subject to responsibility for abuses.” The Globe would throw in a previously unenumerated freedom — “association” — but require all rights to be resolved in accordance with the principles of “equality” and “dignity.”
Then the Globe adds another new liberty — the “freedom from religion.” It says: “Both the freedom of religion and the freedom from religion shall be respected by the government.” Notice the subtle — or, hey, not so subtle — suggestion that religion is some God-awful pest. The words “free exercise” are freely exorcised. And the disestablishment by Congress of religions established by the states would no longer be prohibited.
All this, in any event, is nothing compared to the Globe’s rewrite of the 2nd Amendment. That’s the article of the Bill of Rights that says the “right of the people” to “keep and bear arms” shall not be “infringed.” It’s the right that the great jurist St. George Tucker called “the true palladium of liberty.” The Globe transmutes it into an amendment protecting — wait for it — the right to abortion.
We know, we know, you are going to say this is impossible. Not even Orwell himself could recalculate the 2nd Amendment into a right to abortion. Well, the right to keep and bear arms comes out in the Globe as: “All people have the right to bodily autonomy consistent with the right of other people to the same, including the right to defend themselves against unlawful force and the right of self-determination in reproductive matters.”
“The government shall take reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of the public as a whole,” the Globe’s 2nd Amendment concludes. It doesn’t require the government to take “all” reasonable measures. Just some of them. What the Globe means by “the public as a whole” is that it has your health and safety covered so long as you are not hiding out in your mother’s womb. If that’s your game, all bets are off.
Which brings us back to what the Founders were thinking when they made the Constitution so difficult to amend. They feared the government they created. They foresaw that as the government expanded, it would begin to chafe under the restrictions the parchment places on Congress. And that the very freedom they granted in the First Amendment would enable a prosperous press to abet big government.
So they required that any amendment to the Constitution be ratified by three quarters of the states. No matter whether the amendment was started in Congress, or a convention of the states, or the lairs of the press itself. This forced the left to hide out in the emanations and penumbra of the Bill of Rights. With three new conservative justices, that will be more difficult. No wonder the Globe has sprung to.
Drawing by Elliott Banfield, courtesy of the artist.