Phi Beta Cons

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Former Law Professor Dissatisfied with Constitution


The law professor in question is, of course, Barack Obama. His views on the inadequacy of the Constitution recently became known, although anyone familiar with Obama’s philosophy could easily have guessed that he thinks the Constitution ought to protect a host of specious “rights.”

Northwestern Law School professor Steven Calabresi weighs in on Obama’s notions in a WSJ article today.

He asks whether the Illinois senator could in good faith take the oath to uphold the Constitution. Calabresi is right to ask that question, but you’d have to go back to Calvin Coolidge (or maybe even Grover Cleveland) to find a president who did no violence to the Constitution — no statutes signed, no executive orders issued, no regulations approved that weren’t at cross-purposes with the intent of the Constitution to limit governmental power over the people.

Still, this is an issue worth raising. I think fidelity to the Constitution is always worth raising, but especially now, since our economic crisis is rooted in policies that would never have been enacted if our political system had any regard for the Constitution. The Community Reinvestment Act? Unconstitutional. Fannie and Freddie? Unconstitutional. The Federal Reserve System itself? Unconstitutional. Most Americans have been led to believe that expanding government power is good, but we have here a powerful lesson that we’d be better off if we had stuck with the Jefferson/Madison view that the limits on governmental power were written in for very good reasons.


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