The Corner

Constitutional “Abuse”

Sullivan criticizes Frum for suggesting that the attempt to pass a constitutional amendment may have beneficial effects even if the amendment does not, in fact, get enacted. That’s “abuse of a sacred document.” (I thought Sullivan was for separating church and state.) Let’s leave aside the debate over whether this amendment is a good idea–whether it is right to want it to succeed, in other words–and assume we were talking about another amendment that is stipulated to be a good idea. Does the likelihood that it will fail become a reason not to want it to succeed? Does it damage the Constitution to try and fail (assuming it’s a good idea)? If you’re committed to the idea that people should have a strong bias against amending the Constitution–a bias that would seem to be superfluous given the procedural difficulties inherent in the formal amendment process–I would think that occasional failed attempts to amend the Constitution would be a good thing. They would demonstrate that the Constitution is not easily amended.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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