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America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

These Are the Scoundrels In Charge

From today's Washington Post:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has raised some eyebrows in legal circles because of the following exchange last Thursday with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) at a meeting of the Judiciary Committee over the writ of habeas corpus. The Latin term, roughly interpreted as "you have the body," refers to the centuries-old right of prisoners to challenge their confinement.

Gonzales : The fact that the Constitution -- again, there is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution. There's a prohibition against taking it away.

But it's never been the case. I'm not aware of a Supreme...

Specter : Wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there's an invasion or rebellion?

Gonzales : I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas. Doesn't say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except . . .

Specter : You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.

7 comments:

James Greenberg said...

This entire discussion is predicated on the belief that the Constitution is anything more than a dead letter.

Mssrs. Gonzales and Specter are vultures picking over a long-dead carcass.

Scott said...

Yes, but this is how everyone gets to see that the Constitution has no effect, if it ever had.

Sheldon Richman said...

Hey, Lincoln did it. Isn't that enough authority for you sticklers? :)

James Greenberg said...

"Yes, but this is how everyone gets to see that the Constitution has no effect, if it ever had."

Define "everyone."

Define "no effect."

I would counter that a vanishingly small minority actually "sees." The remainder like it the way it is (seeing or not), or are either completely apathetic or too busy slaving away to pay the opportunity costs of caring.

And as regards the remainder that like it the way it is, it should be remembered that the U.S. Constitution was crafted to achieve the very ends we observe today -- the establishment of the perfect merchant state (viz. Charles Beard).

Invoking Constitutional arguments is "buying the premise," as Sheldon has written in the past. It's a losing strategy.

Anonymous said...

James, what do you mean when you say "..the U.S. Constitution was crafted to achieve the very ends we observe today -- the establishment of the perfect merchant state (viz. Charles Beard)"?

Sorry for my ignorance.

James Greenberg said...

Two good reads on how States come into being and why:

Charles Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Beard

Franz Oppenheimer, The State

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppenheimer

One can also get a good education by reading Albert Jay Nock, who develops similar themes.

I hope this helps.

Sheldon Richman said...

I would also recommend two books by Merrill Jensen: "The Articles of Confederation" and "The New Nation." They provide an excellent account of the time leading up to the drafting of the Constitution. The issue was not Federalists vs. Anti-federalists, but true federalists versus nationalists. Some traditional heroes (Madison) are the villains of this story.