The Constitution in Exile

I normally don’t read books by Fox News commentators, but I saw Judge Andrew Napolitano interviewed by Ralph Nader on CSPAN Book TV and was interested in his principled advocacy of strict constructionism.  So I read his book The Constitution in Exile: How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land. He takes us through the history of the successful attempts to get around the requirements of the Constitution by legislative, executive, and judicial actions starting with the presidency of George Washington.  The Constitution is primarily a document which serves to prohibit government from abridging the freedoms of the people, and to a lesser extent, forbidding the federal government from encroaching on the sovereignty of the states.  Governments being what they are, their tendency is to desire to be unfettered in doing what they want, even if it is for a good cause, and thereby the need arises to find ways of getting around these constitutional hindrances.

He makes severe criticisms of  presidents such as Lincoln, which is something we rarely see in this country.  In his view, states do have a right to secede, and Lincoln should have let them do so.  He thinks that slavery would soon have disappeared anyway, as it did almost everywhere else, and likely many if not all the secessionist states would have returned.  Sometimes I also think that might have been better, even if they had not returned to the union.

He considers FDR to be the chief anti-constitutionalist up until George W. Bush, for whom he saves his greatest condemnation for having essentially done away with the 4th Amendment through the misnamed USA Patriot Act.  It was interesting to learn that the FBI is not just using their ability to write their own warrants in terrorism cases, but also in drug cases and others.  They can search people’s library records, medical files, financial records, etc., without a judge ever issuing a single warrant and it is furthermore against the law for the bank, library, or physician who is served with the warrant to tell anyone at all that this has been done.

I’d often advise people in debt to think about a debt management plan over something like bankruptcy in scotland as there’s no obligation to remortgage and release equity in your house.

  Not only has Obama ruled out trials for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of that gang for the treason they committed in violating their oaths to uphold the Constitution, but he signed a one year extension of the Patriot Act in February, 2010.

2 comments to The Constitution in Exile

  • rmbork

    Found your site because I was researching psychopathology and googling Ethel Person– that led me to your wonderful article on Don Juan. Then started looking around your blog and found this book review. This also happens to be a parallel interest of mine.

    I am also very interested in the new research from neuroscience that is coming into the media and now into our judicial system. Like so much that jumps the hurdle from the lab and the scientific journals into the public domain, I wonder how much of the “science” has become junk. I missed the NPR shows but I will see if they are archived on their site. I am thinking of attending a conference for legal professionals in March on the impact of the research.

    So thank you for your posts. I plan to return to see how you designed it. Promise I won’t duplicate — but I like how you managed to integrate so many interests.

    (As a side note, I think Person may have had a very interesting insight into psychopathology that I am trying to follow further. She notes that the “psychopathic maneuver” that is theorized to stabilize the psychopath’s imbalanced psyche must take place in reality (feedback from a real partner) rather than in fantasy.)

  • geb

    Thanks for your comment. I wasn’t familiar with Person. Looks like she is an analyst, from googling her.

    I think the neuroscience will hold up. The question is, what is the legal system going to do with it. If they decide that any kind of brain function that determines behavior means the person should be relieved of responsibility for his actions, then it could be disastrous. I think most scientists believe that most of our behavior is deterministic. That doesn’t mean we should leave predators at large.

    Are you related to the former attorney general Bork?

You must be logged in to post a comment.