The Times Declares Our Constitution Dead

Nobody wants to copy a failing document.

For a long while now, conservative commentators have worried about how our Constitution no longer restrains overweening government power the way it's supposed to.  In recent years, the left has started noticing this from the opposite direction.

The New York Times tells us that it's not just Americans who're realizing that that grand old document is looking a little tattered.

In 1987, on the Constitution’s bicentennial, Time magazine calculated that “of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.”

A quarter-century later, the picture looks very different. “The U.S. Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere,” according to a new study by David S. Law of Washington University in St. Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia...

“The turn of the twenty-first century, however, saw the beginning of a steep plunge that continues through the most recent years for which we have data, to the point that the constitutions of the world’s democracies are, on average, less similar to the U.S. Constitution now than they were at the end of World War II.”

As Americans, we tend to think that our Constitution sets the gold standard for what a constitution ought to be.  For years and years, this was true; when freedom marched around the world, it did so clothed in founding documents much like ours.

This study finds that's not so anymore; while our Constitution has stayed the same, other constitutions around the world are getting more and more different from it.  The founders and constitutionalists of other countries, in short, no longer think the U.S. Constitution is worth copying.

The Times thinks they know why, too:

The Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect, at least in so many words, a right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care.

We're all in favor of the right to travel and the presumption of innocence, but as we've explored before, "rights" to food and such are not rights at all but merely the power to demand the enslavement of others.  Most other governments are far to the left of our Founders and have no problem stealing from the haves to give to the have-nots.

Still more troubling to the Times are the rights included in our Constitution that they think have no business being there:

Only 2 percent of the world’s constitutions protect, as the Second Amendment does, a right to bear arms. (Its brothers in arms are Guatemala and Mexico.)

Even our own Supreme Court justices now publicly pooh-pooh the document that they're sworn to uphold:

In a television interview during a visit to Egypt last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court seemed to agree. “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she said. She recommended, instead, the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the European Convention on Human Rights.

Consider the implications in what this Supreme Court justice is saying, and the effects of the documents she specifically cites as superior examples.

South Africa is a place where the government can demand that corporations do whatever it takes to increase their ownership by favored races.  It even defines a scorecard for reaching this goal, required by law to be used when making government purchases and issuing operating licenses!  America tolerates intrusive employment regulations, but thankfully companies can't yet be forced to simply give stock to people of preferred color - though apparently they can be made to give themselves to unions, as the auto company "bankruptcies" illustrated.

In Canada, individuals can be fined or even imprisoned for simply saying something offensive to favored groups.  America's Constitution still protects us from this sort of tyranny; the only speech which can be penalized is direct incitement to violence or provable slander.

As far as the European Convention on Human Rights is concerned, the British are discovering that, if you are a law-abiding citizen, it's anything but.  Based on that law, the European Court forbade England from deporting murderous foreign thugs because they had a "right to a family life" they'd illegally established in England.  Even proven terrorists can't be thrown out.

Yet these are what Ruth Bader Ginsburg thinks the world should follow as examples!  If she were an ordinary pontificating lefty, we'd dismiss her nuttery out of hand.  But she's not: she is one of the nine people who define what the Constitution does and does not protect, and here she is saying it's all wet.

No wonder the rest of the world doesn't think our Constitution isn't worth emulating!  It clearly isn't working anymore, even right here where it's nominally revered.  Why copy something that's already failed?

Our Tea Party is trying to revive the power and authority of the Constitution; we pray that against all odds they'll succeed.  Anything that can protect us from our ruling elites, even in part, is worth keeping and strengthening.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Oh, yes, that nasty 2d Amendment that New Yorkers and other leftists hate because they're afraid of guns except when wielded by the cops or the military that they also don't like, and the right to defend oneself and ones property, to say what we want even though some group might be offended. We definitely need to be more like Canada and Europe so that the government can tell us what rights we have instead of having GOD GIVEN rights. Everyone has the right to whatever they've earned, they don't have the right to take from me what I've earned so that they can have "the same stuff in their house that I have in mine", to paraphrase Al Sharpton renowned, uh, religious leader and race baiter.

February 9, 2012 4:31 PM

With comments like the aclu judge said it kinda makes me think old Newt might just have it right when he said that we need to get rid of some of our judges. She would be at the head of the line. Having said that we should seriously consider term limits on all judges, no more lifetime appointments.

February 10, 2012 1:54 AM
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