During the next 15 years, the United States could see some incredible transformations. Every young adult would be given $80,000 via a new tax on the “rich.” Felons would be allowed to vote. A second Bill of Rights would be instituted, complete with a slew of new entitlements to ensure social and economic “equality.” And most amazingly, no one will need – or even be allowed – to vote on these sweeping changes. Unelected judges could simply mandate each of them – for our own good, of course.
None of these changes are inevitable, but lest you chalk it all up as alarmist hype, an influential group of legal scholars seeks to make these things – and more – a reality.
In April, Yale Law School’s chapter of the American Constitutional Society sponsored a conference titled “The Constitution in 2020.” The event was designed to foster leftist policies into being, with the consent of neither voters nor elected officials. Perhaps this strategy should be expected in light of the desperation of many leftist politicians to remain in office these days. Not surprisingly, one of the conference’s main financial backers was left-leaning and Bush-bashing international financier George Soros.
The first sentence of the conference description stated the goal forthrightly: “It is time for progressives to set a constitutional agenda for the 21st century.” Yale law professor and opening speaker Bruce Ackerman revealed how sweeping their dream agenda could extend.
The professor promoted taxing the “wealthy” to create a “citizenship inheritance” of $80,000 for every young adult to use as each sees fit. In addition, Ackerman and other conference speakers believe that we as a nation need convicted murderers, rapists and other felons to help us select our leaders at the ballot box.
Harvard Law’s Martha Minow agreed.
“For the politically unpopular and disenfranchised – including detained immigrants, children and literally disenfranchised ex-convicts – we do need to ramp up affirmative constitutional aid,” she urged.
But affirmative action for felons and non-citizens wasn’t enough for some. University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein insisted that even more progressive “constitutional interpretation” was required.
“It is important to be clear on what is meant by ‘the Constitution,’” he said, churning up thankfully forgotten days when we wondered what the meaning of the word “is” is. “That idea could of course be limited to what is technically part of constitutional law as the Supreme Court understands it. Much more ambitiously, it could include anything deemed ‘constitutive’ of national commitments and principles.”
And which “commitments and principles” is Sunstein referring to? Well, leftist ones, of course.
The professor referred at length to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s proposed “Second Bill of Rights,” which would invent bizarre, socialistic governmental guarantees our Founding Fathers never could have dreamed of.
Rights to a well-paying job, housing, health care, education, recreation and even freedom from “unfair competition” are included in this imagined constitution. No mention, of course, is made of the destruction of our nation’s economic engine in the process.
While the original Bill of Rights set limits on the government, the Bill of Rights “the Sequel” would grant the state inconceivable authority to intervene in every sector of our lives.
If brought to the electorate, this breathtaking expansion of state power would be emphatically laughed out of town halls from Arizona to Vermont. But while the proposals seem outlandish today, government-sanctioned abortion and same-sex “marriage” seemed equally outlandish before being fabricated by some members of an unelected judiciary.
The sad truth is that, practically speaking, the only impediment these days to government-enforced recreation and nationwide salary caps is the interpretation of one more runaway Supreme Court decision. And if this effort is allowed to prevail, the results will be with us for a very long time.
Left-leaning columnist Joshua Micah Marshall reveled in the promise of the 2020 conference.
“This isn’t about 2006 or 2008 or figuring how all the cards might fall right in this or that cycle,” he said. “It’s about creating the building blocks of progressive reform, one step at a time, one lawyer at a time, one new idea at a time, building networks of like-minded individuals who create enduring change. That’s stuff that doesn’t show results in a week or a month; but it endures.”
The left has made it clear that the will of the people is not their primary objective, and they are willing to work incrementally to achieve their goals if need be. The conference at Yale demonstrates how important the judiciary is to our future. It is a startling reminder of the need for our judges to interpret the Constitution for what it clearly says – rather than what they wish it said.