George Mason’s critique of the American Constitution

Not long ago someone tweeted this part:

The President of the United States has the unrestrained Power of granting Pardons for Treason; which may be sometimes exercised to screen from Punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the Crime, & thereby prevent a Discovery of his own Guilt.

And that led me to wish to read the whole thing.  Mason of course was an anti-Federalist, and in his short piece he lays out why he opposes the proposed new constitution.  Here is what I found striking:

1. He feared that the President would become a tool of the Senate or of his own cabinet.

2. He feared the Senate would not be directly accountable to the people.  Of course, in due time we changed that through constitutional amendment.

3. He feared the federal judiciary would end up taking over state and local judiciaries.

4. The Senate can excessively legislate through the use of treaties — quite a contemporary objection by the way.

5. The individual states won’t be able to levy tariffs on trade across state borders.

6. Federal and state legislatures won’t be able to pass enough ex post facto laws (the strangest worry to me).

7. He made various claims that ended up being made obsolete by the adoption of a Bill of Rights.

8. The southern states would end up systematically outvoted.

9. The Vice President could end up becoming too powerful through his role in the Senate.

It is striking to me in these early writings how much people worry about the evolution of the Senate, and how little attention they pay to the Supreme Court, which at the time was viewed as not slated to be so powerful.

The problem of “Congress will toss away its legislative and war-making roles, and give up a lot of effective control of the budget” was also nowhere to be found in the words of the early critics, as far as I can tell.  Nor did they have much of a notion of the rise of the administrative state.

Mason was a forceful writer, but the broad lesson is simply that the future is very difficult to predict.

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It's certainly apparent that judicial review was an after-the-fact power grab, rather than something that was always intended by the Founders.

How do we interpret the 1st and 4th Amendments without the concept of judicial review? The 1st explicitly prohibits Congress from passing certain kinds of laws -- should it be the sole job of the President to enforce this prohibition? The 4th, on the other hand, is pretty clearly a restriction on executive power. It is a bit strange to imagine the President and Congress taking turns checking each other while the judiciary sits back and plays no role, even though their job is the interpretation of legal text.

Prior to Marbury v. Madison, the Constitution was not necessarily seen as actual law, which a court was empowered to enforce. There is an irony in the fact that what created juridical review was the Supreme Court striking down a section of a law that Congress had passed, which had expanded the role of the Supreme Court beyond what the Constitution granted.

I agree some people saw it that way. But this goes to the difference between original intent and other forms of analysis: why rely on the intent of the authors if the authors had unclear, contradictory or not well-thought-through intentions? That's why even conservative judges and scholars have largely abandoned original intent in favor of original meaning.

'I agree some people saw it that way.'
Like Dearieme, who feels that something like the Preamble to the Constitution is just words. The Supreme Court clearly disagrees with his perspective, as seen in the recent case pointing out that the president is part of we the people, and not above them.

I was not thinking about in terms of original intent at all, but simply in how the Supreme Court manages to make the Constitution work as one of the greatest documents in human history, by placing itself as an arbiter of what the words - which can always be changed by amendment or even later Supreme Court decisions - represent as law.

This is a clear example of a Supreme Court 'power grab' - "Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857), was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court in which the Court held that the US Constitution was not meant to include American citizenship for black people, regardless of whether they were enslaved or free, and so the rights and privileges that the Constitution confers upon American citizens could not apply to them." A power grab that was remedied in 1868 by the 14th Amendment.

"who feels that something like the Preamble to the Constitution is just words": that's not my feeling, that's the habit of English Law, which is what the US uses. If it had, entirely implausibly, decided to run itself using Scots Law then the preamble would be looked upon as having substance.

Anyway I'm not sure how much the Holy Constitution matters since the Supreme Court obviously feels that it can just make stuff up on whim.

And its basis is the Constitution, based on we the people.

"The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." -- what is this "writ of habeas corpus" you speak of? Where is it defined?

"No bill of attainder... shall be passed." -- say what?

"high crimes and misdemeanors" -- where is this defined?

"The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood" -- ???

"In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved" -- what is this "common law"?

It is impossible to make sense of the Constitution and the terms it uses without an understanding of English common law and various legal terms and procedures that were simply assumed and not defined or legislated by the Constitution.

Our constitution is not perfect, it is simply better than all other governments founding documents.

That's an opinion that can only be held if you haven't read any founding document written after 1776.

Many countries have written constitutions since then, and very few try to mimic the US constitution in a significant way. Either those people are all lacking in competence, or the US constitution is just nowhere near as good as many Americans believe.

Many politicians prefer a constitution or founding document that gives them more power. THAT is the reason more countries do not adopt some of our constitutional principles. You can go to jail in England or Canada for having/voicing a opinion about many social issues. That is because the politicians there do not citizens to have freedom of speech.

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"It is a bit strange to imagine the President and Congress taking turns checking each other while the judiciary sits back and plays no role."

What you call "strange," the Founders would have called "normal." The English judiciary had no power to override acts of Parliament. If they meant to depart from the entire experience of English law up until then, don't you think they would have said so?

The Founders kicked Parliament to the curb.

'If they meant to depart from the entire experience of English law up until then, don't you think they would have said so?'
They did, and it starts with We the People, a concept that was revolutionary at the time.

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The English also have a monarch and an established church, yet we have neither. The Constitution most certainly does depart from the English model in various ways.

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Nah, that idea is very difficult to square with the Supremacy Clause.

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

Note that it speaks of constitution, treaties and Acts of Congress as law in the sam sense. Note also that the rule that judges of each state is bound by federal law implies some form of judicial review. Highly implausible they envisioned state judges giving federal laws precedence over state laws, but not federal judges given the Constitution precedence.

Obviously, the Supremacy Clause is irrelevant to whether a federal court can invalidate an act of Congress. That's half the argument unaddressed.

Even as to judicial review of state laws, the text doesn't support you. As you even point out, it says that the Constitution, acts of Congress, and treaties are supreme -- it says nothing at all about federal judicial decisions. Clearly the clause gives Congress the power to override state law via legislation, and it says that state judges are bound by federal legislation. Nothing in the clause assigns federal courts the same power to override state laws.

"As you even point out, it says that the Constitution, acts of Congress, and treaties are supreme -- it says nothing at all about federal judicial decisions."

Who interprets acts of Congress if not the judiciary? The authors of the Constitution all knew English law well enough that they didn't need to spell out the fact that the purpose of the judiciary is to interpret and apply the law. So it is tautological and unnecessary to say federal judicial decisions are part of the supreme law of the land. The laws passed by Congress and form part of the supreme law of the land but they are subject to the interpretation of the judicial branch as established by Article III.

Once we have established that, it is shaky logic to say that the courts must not attempt to interpret the Constitution. Again, the 4th amendment, for instance, doesn't make much sense if the judiciary cannot rule on what is or not an unreasonable search and seizure and cannot put forward rules for what constitutes probable cause when it comes to issuing a search warrant.

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Even if saying state judges should practice judicial review does not logical establish that federal judges should do it, by any normal reading it is highly relevant. Would be odd to have only state judges doing it. The first part of the clause that speaks of the Constitution as law in the same sense as Acts of Congress is also highly suggestive to say the least. Most likely it was so obvious that courts should give Constitution precedence over normal law that it did not need to be spelled out, but it was not clear that state judges would put federal law before the law of their own state.

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Also note that federal courts were assigned diversity jurisdiction, ie jurisdiction over cases between citizens of different states. The interpretation adopted is that they were supposed to apply state law in such disputes. Note how odd it would be if they did not have the authority to give federal law precedence in such disputes. A state court hearing a case would give predence to federal law, but a federal court hearing the same dispute would have to apply the contradictory state law!

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It was always there. From Federalist No. 78 by Founding Father Alexander Hamilton written in 1787:

"The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents..... accordingly, whenever a particular statute contravenes the Constitution, it will be the duty of the Judicial tribunals to adhere to the latter and disregard the former"

tldr; When law conflicts with Constitution, Constitution wins. Courts make that determination. Judicial review is a thing.

Hamilton clearly did not believe in original intent, after unpacking this sentence - "It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body." Hamilton is saying the courts are the only body to determine whether the legislature is following the law, and further, only the courts can determine what the legislature intended in the end.

Talk about a profoundly modern interpretation of the Constitution and the role of 'Judicial tribunals' before the Constitution was adopted.

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"When law conflicts with Constitution, Constitution wins"

And yet the Constitution doesn't say that. You're having to resort to one man's opinion, circulated anonymously, and you're declaring that opinion to be supreme even over the text of the Constitution. Your own argument is self-contradictory.

The Constitution does say that (Article 6, Clause 2), it's called the Supremacy Clause:

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supremacy_Clause

BTW, you are free to dismiss the Federalist Papers but the Supreme Court does not as they cite its passages as supporting arguments in making rulings. Especially those Justices whose judicial philosophy seeks the "original" meaning or intent.

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The Constitution does not need to say that, any more than it needs to say 2+2=4. The supremacy of the Constitution is a given fact of its existence. If it were not the supreme law of the land there would be no reason for it to exist.

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Federalist No. 78, like all of them, was not an objective analysis of the Constitution but was a subjective opinion document aimed at getting legislatures to ratify.

It was basically an op-ed. Hamilton's subjective opinion.

To be fair, Mason didn't give an objective analysis either. Mason concluded that America will either be a Monarchy or a "corrupt oppressive Aristocracy" which is an opinion he is entitled to. He is biased toward state rights while Hamilton as a Federalist is biased towards a stronger central government. It's all politics.

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I don't think it is valid to view the Court as an after-the-fact power grab for the simple reason that the great body of judicial work is based on precedent and if you are starting a new country the Court faces a blank slate. Laws are few, nothing has evolved through time, the population is small and conflicts have not had time to form. All these will build as the years go by and the work of courts must therefore increase... which will lead to a seeming increase in power simply due to increased visibility and increased involvement.

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If only Senators were still chosen by state legislators!

Indeed, it was designed that way for a reason. As Tyler might say, ten percent less democracy. This nation's decline has exactly mirrored the increase in power of the common person; it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out why.

My plumber for a while was a former Lehman Brothers trader, who used to say the problem with democracy was that the average voter has an IQ of 100, and half of the voters have an IQ lower than that. He was an above average plumber, for what it's worth.

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That system was tried and found wanting owing to the corruption it engendered.

I can't tell you how relieved I am that there is no more corruption since that amendment passed

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There's still corruption in the Catholic Church. That's not an excuse to undo the reforms of the Council of Tent and bring back the Renaissance Papacy.

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Why leave out some of the other reasons he opposed the Constitution, such as opposing to the slave trade, or his interest in federalism when it came to military forces (whence the phrase 'well regulated militia' in the Bill of Rights)?

The convention spent several weeks in August in debating the powers of Congress. Although Mason was successful in some of his proposals, such as placing the state militias under federal regulation, and a ban on Congress passing an export tax, he lost on some that he deemed crucial. These losses included the convention deciding to allow importation of slaves to continue to at least 1800 (later amended to 1808) and to allow a simple majority to pass navigation acts that might require Virginians to export their tobacco in American-flagged ships, when it might be cheaper to use foreign-flagged vessels.

And his main objection in 3. is worth quoting, since it has a different colour - "The Judiciary of the United States is so constructed & extended, as to absorb & destroy the Judiciarys of the several States; thereby rendering Law as tedious intricate & expensive, and Justice as
unattainable, by a great Part of the Community, as in England, and enabling the Rich to oppress & ruin the Poor." A fairly reasonable objection in an age when traveling between Gunston Hall and Philadelphia involved days of travel, each way, and when different states were still essentially independent governments - a problem the Constitution was designed to fix, as Mason fully knew.

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Nor did they have much of a notion of the rise of the administrative state.

Possibly, they thought the federal government might actually follow the 10th Amendment (i.e., no Department of Energy, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation, etc. etc. etc.).

Fools!

P.S. Actually, peacetime federal government spending was never more than about 3-5% of GDP until FDR came along. So they had a pretty good run for ~150 years.

Government spending in the 19th century is not a good measure of government "size" because government handed out land titles instead of cash for some activities. There was no Department of Education but there were land grant institutions. There was no Department of Transportation but there were land grant subsidies given to railway companies. The Army Corps of Engineers also took responsibility for infrastructure due to lack of any truly civilian bureaucracy that was up to the task.

And getting overcharged by a defense contractor was still small potatoes back in the day.

(and Let me know when was the last time we had a "peace time" budget lol)

Last actual war time budget was 1945. Defense spending peaked at about 43% of GDP in 1944.

There was a surge to 15% in 1952 for Korea and to about 10% in the 60’s for Vietnam (but both were peacetime budgets). For the last generation plus, all peacetime budgets, defense spending has been running only about 5% of GDP, plus or minus about a percent.

Defense spending is about 16% of budget right now.

When you've mastered the distinction between "as a % of GDP" and "as a % of federal spending", get back to us.

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You do know what the Department of Energy's real job is, right? (Hint: it's managing the nuclear arsenal)

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The real flaw in the federalist constitutional structure is how the federal government is so powerful yet much of the power is wielded based on arbitrarily defined states (most notably in the Senate). Many states beyond the original 13 colonies were then defined arbitrarily with an eye towards the balance of power in the federal government—effectively a permanent gerrymander. Once we started admitting states in pairs to maintain the senate balance between free states and slave states, it should have become clear that the states were the tail wagging the dog of the federal government.

It's oppressive.

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9 Mason certainly did not consider the vice presidency to be the equivalent of a warm bucket of spit - 'Hence also sprung that unnecessary & dangerous Officer the Vice President; who for want of other Employment, is made President of the Senate; thereby dangerously blending the executive & legislative Powers; besides always giving to some one of the States an unnecessary & unjust Pre-eminence over the others.'

We certainly remain so unconcerned about the pre-eminence of a state that proud Virginians and New Yorkers did not take up arms against Texas in the 2000 election after a court ruled that Cheney was actually a Wyoming resident, even though he lived and voted in Texas until a couple of days before being selected as Bush's running mate.

The vice presidency has always been one of the oddest things when looked at from the perspective of Mason's age. We consider it almost along the lines of heir apparent (both de facto as future presidential candidate, and de jure in the sense of the line of succession to the presidency), and little else, apart from the occasional tie breaking function in Senate votes. Yet to the Founders, it was so important that there are actually two electoral college votes, one for the president and the other for the vice president. Under the 12th Amendment (the original arrangement was very clunky), it is entirely possible that the Senate decides who becomes its president, though with the recent Supreme Court decision concerning faithless electors, it is difficult to see that happening unless a major third party arises.

The GOP is the third party.

It arose because of slavery.

It made the president much more powerful.

It created the Federal administrative state.

Are you sure you want another third party?

Another Democrat pissed that his slaves were taken away.

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I was happy with the Republican Party until 2016. It gave us a series of leaders ranging between great and good enough. If that is over, we need a new centrist or center-right party of business and free enterprise.

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In fact, John Adams found his role as vice president to be so tedious that he once referred to it as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

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I understand that Locke opposed it, but I always find odd the demand to separate the executive and the legislative. An executive consisting of a cabinet which holds the confidence of the legislature is one of the strengths of the Westminster model, and I'm surprised the writers of the US Constitution didn't realise that.

The Founders wanted to make their new republic less efficient at passing and changing laws than was the case in Westminster.

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Well, he totally missed::

Slavery would be ended
Slavery would persist after slave trade was ended quickly as he wanted producing too many slave.
Slavery would drive Federal policy more than any other factor for at least a century.

On slavery, every fear imaginable has been realized.

In fact slavery has driven increased executive poeer.
Increased power of the Federal courts over State courts
The over sized power of the Senate

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"how little attention they pay to the Supreme Court"

How can that be? A Supreme Court Justice was impeached in 1805, even if not removed. If you read the writings that led to the Sedition Act, a main impetus was people thinking Adams was preparing for war. In fact, some of the people who passed the Sedition Act seemed to believe we were as good as at war, so criticizing the Foreign Policy of Adams was treason. Right from the start, who wielded power was up for grabs.

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George Mason died in 1792.

Is he a they? The point is they paid attention to the Supreme Court right from the beginning, even if he didn't.

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George Mason was a Virginian first, and an American second, a view common among Virginians. Back then Virginia was not only the most influential state (home of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Mason, and many others), it was the most populous state. It was in Mason's own self-interest for the states to be essentially autonomous: men of his standing had enormous influence on matters in Virginia, influence greatly diminished under a federal system. On slavery, Mason owned hundreds, which were not freed on his death. He strongly opposed the slave trade, but that too was in his self-interest: importing slaves reduced the value of the slaves already here, including his own. Mason and Washington were close friends, but Mason's opposition to the constitution strained the relationship. Washington had a different perspective, a perspective developed after spending a decade fighting for independence against the British. Washington believed that failure to adopt the constitution would imperil the survival of the new nation, as the British and other European powers would view it as the failure of a weak nation. This view was compounded by the threat from the growing anarchy movement both here and in Europe. Mason was an important figure in the creation of the nation, and he deserves to have a major university named in his honor. I am also pleased that his views about federalism and the constitution were in the minority. Although Mason refused to accept appointments that required him to swear allegiance to the constitution, he continued to make a valuable contribution to the new nation. I view him and the others of the era through the lens of an 18th century observer. We are the product of our time, including the time today for the mostly young men and women who have a different view of what it means to be an American and of the values that make America exceptional. If Mason et al. can be accepted even with their flaws, so can the young men and women today.

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George Mason was a Virginian first, an inferior subject of the British crown second, and then an American third, a view common among Virginians of the time.

And Mason's views about a bill of rights being a necessary part of a constitution was clearly not in the minority. And it this contribution that makes the Constitution one of the greatest achievements in human history.

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The state system is an instability, before and after the Constitution.

A well known problem among the pros, but oft ignored. It is a problem that has plagued us since the founding and has no real solution except to reduce the volatility. Unknown to most philosophers, there is no philosophical solution. We pay a huge instability problem in government with the scale problem, and should acknowledge at least.

The idea that Wisconsin has a scale problem but, e.g., Denmark doesn't is pretty risible.

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“Congress will toss away its legislative and war-making roles, and give up a lot of effective control of the budget”

As early as Jackson their were people making this argument about the executive.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Andrew_the_First

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He was writing before Marbury v Madison so it perhaps never crossed his mind that the Supreme Court would arrogate to itself the power of judicial review, i.e., to make the final determination as to what the Constitution means. Without that power the Supreme Court is not all that important.

But isn't the Constitution the fundamental legal document of the country?

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What the founders accomplished was awesome, establishing a citizen centered democracy as well as they did. But, the 1770s were a long time ago.

The human nature (and virtues) they understood haven't changed, but the environment in which they operate have, very much.

We have a "mature" democracy with a Constitution, plus 240 years of legislation and judicial precedent, plus 240 years of social and cultural change, 240 years of technological change.

That leaves limited degrees of freedom, but I think the best right-rational minds (Niskanen?) are right to take that on in a pragmatic way.

"There's still time" for this to be the constitutional, representative, democracy that we need in the 21st century.

Do you really think the environment has changed that much? Please elaborate

The easy one would be communications speed and impact on considered discussion. A quick Google says that it could take 14 days for a letter to travel 100 miles in Revolution-era New England. Whereas I can fire of this comment, and span the globe in seconds.

I'd like to think this is a good answer, but I have to admit I'd probably think harder and answer better in the other, slower, scenario.

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In broad strokes, the whole Constitution probably works better with 14-day delays in communication.

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Many people say the Supreme Court is very powerful but I disagree. It can make a decision, but if it makes a decision that Congress dislikes, Congress can write a new law that says the opposite.

Many people credit the Supreme Court for Roe v Wade, but they only decided that because Congress lacked the courage to pass a law on abortion like other countries have done.

Anything the Supreme Court does can be changed by legislation or by an amendment to the Constitution. You may say that it is hard to amend the Constitution, but it is easy if it is really necessary and 80% of people agree.

If Congress and the people are divided on an issue then the Supreme Court can decide. But their decision will not last long if most people are opposed to it.

"because Congress lacked the courage to pass a law on abortion"

Its not lack of courage. It is very debatable if Congress has any power in the abortion area. Congress has no general police power.

You have to argue Commerce Clause basically because of devices and drugs used in interstate commerce. Normally medical regulation and crimes are state police power functions.

Congress might be able to ban abortions under the 14th Amendment power to protect the civil rights of a "person" as well but that would be a huge expansion of that doctrine.

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It's not easy to amend the constitution if 80% of people agree: You need for them to not just agree, but to make this so important to them that they are willing to make this change their vote. A lot of very popular ideas never turn to laws, because the small percentage of people that dislike them really hate them, and they have enough sway over the government to beat something popular, yet not too important. And really, today we'd not be able to get 80% of Americans to agree that grass is green anyway.

The Supreme Court would be weaker if we were voted for more offices, each with a lot of power in a much narrower set of things: Imagine voting for health secretary, or voting for the election commission. But in practice we are voting for people with such wide authority that beating, say, supreme court decisions in gerrimandering is just very difficult.

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Abortion was regarded for good reasons, as a state matter. Why should Congress pass a federal law? Though after Roe vs Wade Congress would have had to pass a constitutional amendment on the matter. Attempts were certainly made, but they never had enough popular support to go anywhere.

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I don't think that was due to lack of courage, but more to pragmatism. If you look back at Republican Presidents of modern times up until Trump, you'll see that there was lip service paid to the abortion issue buy because popular opinion was near a 50-50 split, both the President and Congress really took no action. The idea was that you simply don't pass a law - one way or the other - without popular support.
In this more divisive time, that idea is out the window. You now use power to coerce and to allow minority control over the majority.

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the washington meme zombies

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It was my understanding that the Supreme Court was, in fact, without any substantive power under the Marbury case and the actions of the then Chief Justice, John Marshall.

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One shouldn't overlook that Mason was a successful planter, owning thousands of acres and producing profits which he used to expand his empire. Indeed, Washington looked to Mason as a model, though Washington never had the success as a planter as did Mason. One of Mason's many endeavors was the Ohio Company, through which he intended to add (hundreds of) thousands of acres to his business. One may recall that Washington surveyed the Ohio Territory, for which he expected the British to compensate him with the territory. That the British didn't was a major blunder: Washington may not have led the revolt if he had been treated with respect by the British, the other disrespect being the refusal to grant him an officer's commission for his efforts in the French/Indian wars. History can turn on the most personal but not trivial actions. That Mason was a successful businessman fits with GMU.

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It seems the lesson in making long run predictions is to follow Roger Ebert's rule for whodunits, the Economy of Characters:
" This law states that no major character is introduced into a movie unless he serves a function important to the plot. In any whodunit, if you can spot a character who seems unnecessary and whose function is undefined, he is the killer."

Long run future projections imply take the least important thing and assume that will be the most important 100 or so years in the future. Writing in 1900 if someone applied this rule to the # key, they would have nailed it.

In that vein I warn future generations that comment moderators have the potential to turn into a secret police in the future that will not only delete posts but have commentators killed in secret tribunals.

Why is anyone surprised?

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Re: The individual states won’t be able to levy tariffs on trade across state borders.

Why would that even be desirable? Was the concern for how states could raise revenues?

Re: Federal and state legislatures won’t be able to pass enough ex post facto laws (the strangest worry to me).

I have trouble imagining that even in the 1700 anyone thought those laws were just.

Re: The southern states would end up systematically outvoted.

If "Southern" = "Slave state" that didn't happen until California was admitted in 1850.

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"2. He feared the Senate would not be directly accountable to the people. Of course, in due time we changed that through constitutional amendment."

Very naive statement... even by college professor standards. So, taking the senate elections out of the hands of 50 state legislatures and further concentrating power in the hands of the DC national party power brokers was making it more accountable to the people? Besides being a boon to folks like HRC and the benevolent ruling class of Northern Virginia, how is this helping the people again? The folks who decide who you are allowed to vote for, who they will fund and who they will quietly sic their dogs on to destroy in the primaries are all decided back in DC... yes, very good for the locals.

If Senators are chosen by state legislatures, that just means DC national party power brokers care that much more about influencing state elections in order to put their preferred candidates in the Senate.

In other news, thank goodness for the state electoral colleges and the job they do of protecting presidential elections from the influence of national party power brokers.

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Good book is "America's Forgotten Founders" by Gregg and Hall. Easy read.

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