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10/12/2009
INTELLECTUAL CONSERVATISM ISN’T DEAD: MAINTAINING A CONSISTENT PHILOSOPHY

This is the last in my series on the state of intellectual conservatism. Previous articles can be found in order here, and here, and here, and here.

If, as we’ve discovered, intellectual conservatism has been marginalized, and its adherents are in bad odor with much of the base, then conservatism as it is advanced by movement righties must be doomed to wander the night like the headless horseman; an unholy terror riding unseen and unloved, searching fruitlessly for its head until the dawn sends it scurrying back into the shadows.

A bit melodramatic, but who can resist the headless horseman analogy?

Indeed, with the conservative base rejecting the idea that most of their critiques of Obama and the left are wildly illogical and, unreasonable, one wonders if they’re even bothering to search for a head in the first place. It’s as if they really believe that relying on anger and paranoia will win over the great independent middle and sweep them back to power, grinding the left - and their less ideological enemies on the right - into powder.

Well, all I can say is good luck with that. I have little doubt that in 2010, you could put a GOP monkey up for election against some Democrats and the Chimp would be celebrating a victory. That’s how bad Democratic prospects in some districts look at this point. The reaction against Obamacare, and the inevitable rise in taxes along with dim prospects for much of a recovery will give the Republicans a good 20 seats.

But it will take at least a gain of 40 seats to see the GOP returned to power in the House, not to mention the 11 seats Republicans need to take control of the senate. Both numbers are currently out of reach, no matter how bad the Democrats screw up.

The reason is simple; in most districts, running a chimpanzee against a Democrat won’t get the job done. In order to realize the goal of overturning Democratic majorities in Congress, it would help immensely if the GOP had a coherent, consistent, programatic agenda that would seek to address the real concerns of real voters.

Broad themes are nice but a Gingrich-like “Contract with America” is more to the point. But given where the movement is now, what would that “Contract” look like?”

I would hope that insisting on finding the provenance of Obama’s birth certificate might be far down the list. Ditto the repeal of “death panels” in any health care legislation - if they can be found.

Indeed, promising to roll back liberal legislation might work, and it might not. A lot of opposition to health care reform may melt away once it’s passed. Democrats have history on their side in this since there has never been an instance of an entitlement being repealed once it has been passed.

Besides, while significant electoral gains are possible with a wholly negative agenda, voters would be far more enamored of a GOP platform that laid out positive legislative goals that they would wish to enact.

Frankly, I don’t see this being possible as long as enraged, populist ideologues are driving the Republican party off a cliff.

If reformers will not be listened to with regard to what is needed to regain a majority for the GOP, perhaps they have a role to play on the margins of the movement; that is, in developing the rationale for a consistent philosophy to be applied to governance.

Currently, conservatism is, in the words of R. Emmett Tyrell, a “riot of conceits.” We currently have the spectacle of movement conservatives hoping to use the courts to overturn legislation.

Steven Menashi, a public affairs fellow with the Hoover Institution, writing at The American Scene:

[T]he so-called Tenthers think all manner of new legislation is unconstitutional. There is no question that the courts have weakened the constitutional restraints on Congress, and it’s useful to point that out in order to guard against further attrition. But come on. The courts are not going to declare health-care reform unconstitutional. It’s just a fanciful notion that consigns its adherents to the political fringe. Federal regulation is with us, for better or worse, and conservatives should try to make it better rather than worse.

Conservatives have long argued that it’s unhealthy to use courts to decide policy questions because it removes contentious political issues from the realm of democratic deliberation. What’s more, when a political movement focuses its efforts on declaring some policy unconstitutional, it removes itself from the debate over how to craft that policy. Instead of revisiting Supreme Court cases from the 1940s, the Tenthers might want to read up on health policy.

For the same reason, conservatives should be defending the president’s use of informal policy czars. Creating a White House policy apparatus doesn’t undo the growth of the administrative state since the New Deal — that’s not going to happen anytime soon — but it’s a significant counter-measure: it helps shift the balance of power towards unitary executive control of the bureaucracy. And that’s a change we can believe in.

These arguments against using the courts to short circuit the legislative track while opposing policy czars despite how they may help the president reign in the bureaucracy are exactly the kind of inconsistencies promoted by movement conservatives. And they are the direct result of excessive ideological zeal in that they represent an emotional need to oppose the president and congress in everything they do even at the expense of adhering to a consistent conservative philosophy.

There are many such inconsistencies in conservative principles to be found in the beliefs being touted by the base. Calling for the significant lowering of taxes when the deficit hit $1.7 trillion in FY 2009 isn’t logical (nor is raising taxes during a recession, but tell that to Obama). Nor is it prudent (a marvelous conservative value) to support massive increases in defense spending for the same reason. And how does one square the attempt to legislate morality with subscribing to Kirk’s “voluntary community” or support for an “enduring moral order” when it is crammed down our throats?

I believe these inconsistencies to be a product of a lack among movement conservatives - perhaps a fear - of self examination. Unless you turn a critical eye to the assumptions found in one’s own philosophy, the chances are good that these kinds of inconsistencies will arise and wreak havoc with the logic of one’s beliefs.

Of course, such self examination would also reveal the paucity of critical thinking in much of their critique of the other side as well as challenging their overwrought paranoia about the effect of what Obama has been attempting to do. Would such self-criticism make it easier to see that we are not living under a dictatorship or some kind of socialist form of government? An honest, non-ideological appraisal of their own philosophy just might.

I’m not holding my breath. It appears that much of the right has abandoned reason altogether and has descended into a cave where, blind to their own excesses, they repeat the echos heard from talk radio and other pop conservatives, while failing to light a match and see where their fear and anger have brought them.

The edge of a precipice where stepping over the edge means falling into political irrelevancy.

By: Rick Moran at 10:04 am
19 Responses to “INTELLECTUAL CONSERVATISM ISN’T DEAD: MAINTAINING A CONSISTENT PHILOSOPHY”
  1. 1
    Transplanted Lawyer Said:
    11:29 am 

    Of course, the real problem is that “an honest, non-ideological appriasal of [conservative] philosophy” would require dispensing with hate and fear as the raisdon d’etre of the GOP. Hate and fear are powerful motivators and the human mind takes to them the way it takes to addictive drugs. The policy proposals that will ultimately rebound to the benefit of the country, which the Democrats have left wide open for the GOP to incorporate into a policy platform, are simply not as much fun as red-meat social issues and fearmongering.

    If you’ll forgive a self-plug, I think those policy opportunities include:

    1. Strong dollars (which means higher interest rates and thus greater savings, but also encourages us to invest in foreign industries so we can bring the wealth of the developing world back home);
    2. Constitutionally-mandated deficit reduction leading, eventually, to balanced budgets (I envision this being implemented gradually, with a Congressional super-majority to deficit spend thereafter during a time of declared war);
    3. Encouraging development of nuclear power plants through completion of Yucca Mountain waste storage facility and meaningful solutions to risks of transporting the waste safely, tax breaks, regulatory reform, and, if need be, public-private investment partnerships;
    4. Meaningful immigration and naturalization reform, which does not mean exluding immigration but rather streamlining the process to integrate more immigrants into the tax rolls and naturalize the hard workers;
    5. Renewal of anti-terrorism as an ideological guide to foreign policy decisions rather than the existing ad hoc attempts to create localized “balance of power” arrangements;
    6. Construction of a space elevator as a technological challenge and investment for future space development; a modern equivalent of the Apollo Project.

    I don’t claim that these are necessarily guided by a single, overarching political philosophy, although “living within our means” and “leveraging our technological abilities to our future advantage” would be really good starts. Maybe other readers of this blog think I’m off base with my policy proposals, maybe they have ideas of their own. I think that at this point in time, we’re best served by having a debate about what new and different kinds of policies we can propose which will be in the public interest rather than leaving our policy thinking to “whatever the opposite is of what Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama are selling.”

    So if any of you think my ideas are wrongheaded, tell me what other policies would be better.

  2. 2
    mannning Said:
    12:15 pm 

    I suggest that some people are listening to the wilder fringe of the conservative movement, not the sober, reasoned, and prudent people I know and observe here in Central Virginia. It does not take an intellectual leadership up front and squawking to realize that we are on the wrong path, and should return to the practical, frugal and productive paths we have known for a long time.

    The strawmen issues of running chimps, a negative agenda, using the courts, czars, greatly lowered taxes, massive defense increases, and legislating morality, are the overwrought, unfiltered and unintegrated thrusts of well-meaning but rather far-from-the-leadership members of the right, I believe.

    I firmly believe also that sane and respected leaders will emerge to help move the right onto the proper paths, and they will not take much notice of these extreme or “massive” strawmen, because they will seem so ridiculous to purposeful men.

    Nor will they have to dive into the books or academia very far to dust off lists of conservative principles, because they already have them at their fingertips and in daily use.

    It will be left to those who have the intellectual persuasion to document the course, after the fact, thus putting the figurative head back onto the conservative horseman—from their intellectual point of view.

  3. 3
    Aaron Said:
    1:21 pm 

    @manning: “I firmly believe also that sane and respected leaders will emerge to help move the right onto the proper paths”

    The best way to force this to happen is through elections. From my perspective the Republican electorate is far to easily influenced by rhetoric — pro-life and pro-Christian rhetoric, pro-USA and anti-foreigner rhetoric, and anti-Democrat rhetoric. It’s seductive because it is effective at fighting the culture war, but it’s not a substitute for policy.

    Particularly troubling is anti-tax rhetoric because the lowering of spending that must accompany it has become a forgotten stepchild, as we saw from the massive rise in deficits during the Bush administration. Lowering taxes is a good campaign slogan but by itself it’s horrible policy, especially if spending increases.

    Based on the the strong negative reactions on the right to Obama’s presidency, which started on day one of his term, I don’t see the influence of rhetoric on the Republican electorate going away anytime soon.

  4. 4
    jon dough Said:
    2:37 pm 

    Rick,

    As usual, you give me much to think about.

    I honestly believe that some of the “Whose Side Are You On, Anyways?” confusion amongst We The People arises from our not understanding, or perhaps not even caring, just exactly what it is we want from our political parties and leaders.

    Your writing is very consistent and your logic is sound. You correctly point out your facts first and then build your arguments.

    An example I have seen here numerous times revolves around the fact that we are a nation of 300+ million people — your first comment is to ask what do we mean when we demand “smaller government”?

    And there are many more similar thoughts and questions you often pose that are of the same simple yet probing content. Not simplistic, just simple, as in easy to grasp and talk about.

    If these cannot be answered or discussed or admitted of, we are all in big trouble.

    From F.A. Hayek’s “Why I Am Not A Conservative”

    “Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. The tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction, of contemporary developments. But, though there is a need for a “brake on the vehicle of progress,” I personally cannot be content with simply helping to apply the brake. What the liberal must ask, first of all, is not how fast or how far we should move, but where we should move.”

    When Hayek uses the word “Liberal”, he means the classical liberal, the meat and mettle of our nations founders, not the co-opted form taken by the leftist radicals.

    So, what can we learn from Mr. Hayek and Mr. Moran?

    For me, the learning is that Mr. Moran’s current use of the word conservative is not the same as Hayek’s. To me, Rick’s arguments and positions reverberate with a tone and clarity more akin to the definition of the classical Liberal.

    More Hayek, ibid:
    “But the main point about liberalism is that it wants to go elsewhere, not to stand still. Though today the contrary impression may sometimes be caused by the fact that there was a time when liberalism was more widely accepted and some of its objectives closer to being achieved, it has never been a backward-looking doctrine. There has never been a time when liberal ideals were fully realized and when liberalism did not look forward to further improvement of institutions. Liberalism is not averse to evolution and change; and where spontaneous change has been smothered by government control, it wants a great deal of change of policy. So far as much of current governmental action is concerned, there is in the present world very little reason for the liberal to wish to preserve things as they are. It would seem to the liberal, indeed, that what is most urgently needed in most parts of the world is a thorough sweeping away of the obstacles to free growth.”

    (Again, for those who speed read and misconstrue, Liberal here is meant as CLASSICAL Liberal, like our nation’s founders.)

    And, therein lies the rub. We want more but we want less. We want change but we want to hold to our memories of the past. We know what is right and what is wrong because we were brought up to believe in natural reason, in first principles that supersede our own lives and the lives of those that came before as well as those to come and we cherish these principles as part of our heritage: but we also want to accept the challenge to move beyond those same boundaries.

    Sorry to ramble. I think Conservatives — scratch that, most anyone — would be better served to maintain at the front of their thought processes that not everyone on the other side of your fence is an enemy or a heretic. Hell, if your arguments are well constructed you might win a convert. Be careful though: you may change your mind later and have to confront them all over again.

    I do not mean to speak for you Rick, you do that very well all on your own. That’s why I come here every day.

    I will say that the more I read of what you have to say, the more I am reminded of men like Hayek. I, for one, think that puts you in exceptional company.

    Thanks for a great series.

    I just recently reread The Road to Serfdom. It was the third time I’ve read it and each time, I have come away with a fresh perspective on what it means to be “free.” Hayeks arguments for economic freedom are so simple, yet profound. But more than his thesis, it is the structure and logic of his arguments that capture me. I don’t consciously emulate Hayek in making my arguments, but I certainly try to have structure and logic when advancing them.

    As I’ve said many times, I am not an intellectual. But I believe what is lacking in our politics is something as simple as common sense. I despise what passes for political discourse today because it is so shallow and substanceless. People think if they scream “small government” at the top of their voices often enough that it passes for profundity and people will take them seriously. But trying to pin anyone down on what they actually mean when they say that is a different story. Then you realize that they are not conservatives but reactionaries who seek to re-establish not constitutional principles but rather a government more in line with what we had with the Articles of Confederation.

    Thanks for your generous comment, although I certainly don’t deserve the comparison to Hayek.

    ed.

  5. 5
    mannning Said:
    2:59 pm 

    I don’t see the influence of rhetoric going away either!
    Without rhetoric there is little communication. Your list of topics for rhetoric is not comprehensive, and merely focuses upon those aspects that you disapprove of, I suppose because you sign up to their exact opposite.

    Fiscal conservatives have long advocated a reduction in spending as a prime objective, with tax decreases to follow logically. Tax (income) reductions without spending reductions gets you nowhere, as any household manager with tell you very quickly.

    The rub is, however, when you look at the spending list, no Democrat wants to axe entitlements, which is the largest budget item. In fact, they seem to want to increase entitlements far beyond fiscal sanity. You can’t have it both ways; something or some things must give.

    So they look for yet another category for some cuts, and there sits defense as a fat item. Reduce the defense budget and good things happen, they think. Less money for our wars and military involvements and more money to spend on conjured up needs, witness Clinton’s cuts of 40%. It is never pointed out that to make up for these cuts, and the money poured down the drain elsewhere, we have had to fight in various engagements with the wrong equipment, undermanned brigades that had to rob others to be fully manned, and less ammo until we could rachet up the industrial sector at huge additional cost to supply our forces sufficiently, and suffer a serious time lag while we catch up.

    Holding a sufficient force in constant readiness is far less expensive, more efficient militarily, and a tremendous morale booster for our troops. Democrats will look for the peace dividend every time, yet be willing to push the problem downstream for some other administration to cope with. Today we cut out F-22 production, and we will probably face the need for them and the pilots that know how to use them effectively some five or ten years down the road.

    Cut welfare? Oh no. Off limits!

    Cut entitlements? Not this time!

    Cut farm subsidies? Hell no!

    Find cost reductions within the government? Sure you will! Like $400 million from Medicare!

    Oh well, let’s just use deficit spending so we can all take our share. That game is coming to a frightful end rather soon, and it is a problem fully owned now by the Democrats.

    You are so right that elections cement the leadership, for better or worse!

  6. 6
    mannning Said:
    8:19 pm 

    TL: Your suggestions are in the right direction; at least you are setting up a debate on positive ideas and contributions, and not resurrected ideological conflicts of the 19th or even 20th century Austria, England and America.

    The “whats” are the easy part; it is the “hows” that cause all of the heartache. For me, it is difficult to see how we can strengthen the dollar in a timely manner.

    A space elevator is an interesting idea that I have seen somewhere before. I am in agreement that we need to continue our space programs at some affordable level, but at the moment, I would hazard a guess that an elevator, even if technically feasible, would not have any early payoffs, and could become an “all absorbing node”of our efforts, thus adding strongly to the national debt.

    There are, as far as I am concerned, at least a dozen or more basic areas where conservative or simply good ideas and approaches might bear fruit, and should be the foci of discussion of both the whats and the hows. The areas include, to name a few: education; culture; natural resources; energy; defense; government; science and technology; health; welfare; foreign affairs; crime; agriculture; infrastructure; and so on.

    These in turn break down into significant subsets, such as energy: oil/solar/wind/wave/nuclear/bio-fuels, etc. It is at this breakdown level and lower that useful targets can be found for creative people that would bolster the economy, save resources, and perhaps strengthen the dollar eventually.

    If, as conservatives, we could make many such things identifiable and how to make them start to happen, and convince people that these are the things worth doing now, we would win politically, I believe.

  7. 7
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    11:12 pm 

    Thanks for this series, Rick. You have given us a lot to think about, even if the GOP (and Dems) choose to ignore you. It would seem that Independents and other political free-thinkers are your best potential audience (even if many of them largely disagree with you), because there is a pent-up demand for a healthy mix of thoughtful and assertive writing that doesn’t adhere to either party’s line.

  8. 8
    TMLutas Said:
    8:09 am 

    The Contract with America was released in late spring/early summer of 1994. Prior to its release, nobody knew about it. It was a well poll tested set of ideas that all had 80% support rates but which would not pass a Democrat majority House.

    I submit to you that there is nothing intellectual about finding such ideas. But do not despair, conservative intellectual leadership could produce something even better than the Contract with America.

    The Contract was born of 40+ years of frustration and good ideas bottled up because they were uncomfortable for Democrat partisans. 4 years of a Democrat majority in the House will not create a similar feeling so it won’t work as well this time.

    What would be better is a number of ideas that would be popular with a supermajority of voters, be easy enough to explain via the popularizers, and would be rejected by the Nancy Pelosi’s of the world.

    Here’s one:
    Rate all line expenditures top to bottom in the federal budget and pledge to kill off the bottom 10%. This is intelligent budget cutting and the big government folks are allergic to it.

    Do the rating exercise every year, pledging to end the government roller coaster that can’t see past the boom to the next recession. Pledge to create something along the line of BRAC so that changes actually happen and the worst of government, in all departments, eventually gets swept out no matter how good a program’s K street lobbyists are.

    Create tools so that every Senator, every House member can do it every year and make the non-classified data available to the people so that they can play along if they wish. The 1 in 1000 who do would provide real oversight that would be baked in even when the Democrats regained their majorities.

  9. 9
    busboy33 Said:
    9:45 am 

    @TMLutas:

    killing of the bottom 10% of the budget — what’s the rating criteria? What constitutes “worst”? Is it a straight cost/benefit line? Kiss the national parks and monuments goodbye. I’d think most of the military would be on the block too (where’s the profit in a nuclear aircraft carrier, or a few more submarines?). Is it an ideological “worst”? Does ACORN funding outrank faith-based abstenance programs?
    Your idea is emotionally attractive, but I don’t see how it could actually work. That’s like proposing the government do the “right” thing. Yes, they should do that. First, we need to establish the exact meaning of “right”. Or in this case, “worst”.

  10. 10
    Foobarista Said:
    1:44 pm 

    How about a few simple things, that could be used to inform policy:

    1. The government should consume no more resources than necessary to do its functions.
    2. Its functions should be limited by a fairly restrictive reading of the Constitution. In particular, the “Commerce Clause” should not be interpreted as an enabling act for vast government intrusiveness.
    3. “Social insurances” should exist, but should be measures of last resort for individuals.
    4. Government policy should avoid entrenching existing business models or structurally guarantee groups wealth beyond what the market should provide. Whenever regulatory regimes are blocking innovation, the regulatory regime should be re-examined and discarded.
    5. Businesses that are failing must be allowed to fail quickly so that resources are not overly invested in failure but are redeployed elsewhere. If the government is involved, it should be to help displaced workers, not to prop up dying businesses.

  11. 11
    busboy33 Said:
    10:49 pm 

    @foobarista:

    So do propose to abolish those Government agencies that stem from an expansive reading of the Commerce Clause? The FAA, Nuclear Regulatory Agencies, FDA, Interstate Highways, and so forth? Are you going to replace them or simply stop covering what they do?

    I always thought the Conservatives were the ones grounded in reality, and the Liberals were the flights-of-fancy “wouldn’t it be great if” dreamers.

  12. 12
    John Galt Said:
    9:52 am 

    @busboy33

    For the most part, yes, those agencies should be abolished. What is the Commerce Clause? The Constitution says Congress can “regulate interstate commerce”. What did this mean at the time the Constitution was enacted? “To regulate” meant “to make ready”, “to facilitate”, etc. Congress was to ensure commerce (trade) flowed between the states. States could not hoard something or use “predatory” tactics to harm other states. Dispute me if you can, but history, the constitutional debates, and the Federalists papers are all clear. Lets go into specifics…

    The FAA — as noted in other discussions, the FAA is actually a very reasonable dept based on the original founder’s few. Air Travel is HUGE for interstate commerce, therefore it’s prudent for the US Gov’t to do what it can to ensure air travel remains open.

    Nuclear Regulatory Agency — possibly the most effective dept ever as we don’t build Nuke plants anymore. Brilliant. This dept has been so great that we have had to increase our dependence on all those other dirty fuels. If we didn’t have these depts, I’d bet over 80% of our electrical energy would come from clean uranium and our “carbon footprint” would be next to nothing. No conservative would ever stand for reversing global warming now would they. So, yes, do away with it. Jane Fonda’s movie was bullshit. We should have Nuke plants on every corner. Only the agencies stand in the way. Energy companies have a vested interest on making their plants safe. Plus, if a plant is made in one state AND an individual is purchasing energy in that same state, the federal gov’t should have nothing to do with it. The Fed could potentially have a say in a different states citizens purchasing power from it tho. But why? There is no need and its Constitutionality is very suspect.

    FDA — aside from a couple of true successes in the early years, the FDA is basically just greatly increasing the costs and time it takes to get beneficial drugs on the market. Their decisions these days come more from political calculations then medical merit. Since the FDA seems to “hinder” trade of drugs, I fail to see how it is good for interstate commerce. Sure, it has had success in protecting the public in the past (thalidomide), but it sure looks like its just on overbloated bureaucracy slowing things down today. Drug companies have a vested interest in created safe, effective drugs. The FDA isn’t needed AND isn’t Constitutional anyway.

    Interstate Highways — I can’t think of anything that epitomizes readying interstate commerce more than the Interstate Highway System. Nothing has ever been done by the Fed Gov’t to increase trade more than the interstates. I’m surprised you think this is an expansive reading of the commerce clause. Its as direct as you can get. Not to mention that the interstate system was really passed on its use for the military in a time of war. The military would take over the highways and use them if we were attacked. That usage isn’t as relevant today since air mobility is king, but it still would be used for defense purposes if the need arises. No constitutionality issue whatsoever, no expansive reading of the commerce clause on this one.

    So, any other agencies you wish to discuss relating the commerce clause

  13. 13
    John Galt Said:
    10:01 am 

    Actually, I forgot one thing about the Interstate System.

    In every 5 miles of Interstate, it is required that 1 mile of it be straight. Why? So that military aircraft can use them for runways. So, in a time of war, our interstates could be turned into airports if need be. Makes it difficult for the enemy to bomb our airports and reach air supremacy. So not only are the interstates quite possibly the greatest legitimate use of interstate commerce, they also could very well be the greatest use of true defense.

  14. 14
    busboy33 Said:
    11:04 am 

    Here may be the difference in what we are saying to each other.

    You’ve explained how the Constitution should be interpreted. You’ve explained how things that are not literally in the comnstitution should still be allowed because they are the correct interpretation of Intent. You’ve explained how some things (the FAA) should be read in the Constitution, and other things (healthcare reform) shouldn’t.

    Those are your opinions, and bless you for them. But to use an old phrase, your opinion and 50 cents’ll get you a cop of coffee.

    Last thread you mentioned O’Connor’s decision in the Mich. U. racial profile case:
    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&navby=case&vol=000&invol=02-241
    You brought the case up to point out how SCOTUS violates the Constitution, noting that she “completely disregarded the 14th Amendment”.
    But the entire reason there was a case before the Supremes was so that they COULD consider the impact on the Amendment:

    “We granted certiorari, 537 U. S. 1043 (2002), to resolve the disagreement among the Courts of Appeals on a question of national importance: Whether diversity is a compelling interest that can justify the narrowly tailored use of race in selecting applicants for admission to public universities.”

    Disregarded? It’s all they dealt with! Read the decision. She meticulously details the origin, meaning of words and phrases, case history, facts and factors, and provides an authorative justification for all of it. “She disregarded it” reads the same to me as “I would have decided it differently”.

    And if that’s the case . . . good for you. I disagree with Court decisions all the time. Most of SCOTUS cases are decided 5-4, which is a pretty good illustration that these questions don’t have indisputible answers, so it should go without saying that people will disagree with it.

    But “let’s tear the system down and wipe the slate clean” is not the right answer. I disagree with SCOTUS in Bush v. Gore . . . but I had to soldier on under it. The only way to insure the Supreme Court is going to interpret the Constitution in the way you think is correct is to be on the Court . . . and limiting the number of Judges to one.

    I disagree with your judicial interpretation, but that’s fine. I disagreed with just about every thing my Con Law Professor believed. I had a student last year that Set a new record for being “wrong” in his interpretations . . . but he got an A from me (as I got from my professor) because his technique for arriving at those conclusions was sound. It’s how you think, not what you think.

    THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER. Everything about our system is designed to allow for that.

  15. 15
    John Galt Said:
    7:50 pm 

    I’m amazed that one might believe its ok for the Constitution to be trashed because the government has a “compelling interest”. If the 14th’s “equal protection under the law” is DISREGARDED because of “compelling interest”, then surely other amendments can be DISREGARDED as well.

    Gee, that’s great. Hmm. I’m betting Obama has a “compelling interest” to not allow negative “news” or “opinion” concerning Obamacare. So, by yours (and O’Connor’s) opinion, its ok to disregard the 1st amendment. After all, its compelling.

    Brilliant.

    I’d suggest simply reading the Constitution oneself and discovering what it means. Its quite an easy read. One doesn’t need a robed master to tell you what it should mean.

  16. 16
    John Galt Said:
    9:25 pm 

    I say it here and lo and behold, the “compelling interest” bullshit is beginning to appear in bills attacking the 1st amendment…

    http://reason.com/blog/2009/10/15/could-politically-incorrect-sp

  17. 17
    John Galt Said:
    6:16 am 

    “THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER. Everything about our system is designed to allow for that.”

    BS. This sounds exactly like “1984″. Great quote from that book…it goes something like this…”Freedom is the ability to say 2+2=4″. Well, if your the gov’t, in your wolrdview, 2+2=5 and there is nothing the individual can say to deny that. The gov’t tells you what truth is.

    Very dangerous philosophy. This is what lawyers bring to society.

  18. 18
    John Said:
    10:27 pm 

    You might want to check out a website dedicated to intellectual conservatism. http://www.lastingliberty.com. Given your interest, you might like it.

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