Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The "Thin" Constitution

Not long ago I came across Louis Michael Seidman's "Can Constitutionalism Be Leftist?" The paper is an encomium, of sorts, to Seidman's mentor, Mark Tushnet, who seems to be something oxymoronic, namely, a constitutionalist-socialist. How one could claim to be both things with a straight face is beyond me. It is true, however, that lawyers, politicians, and deluded citizens have conspired (often unwittingly, always in the name of "good," and seldom admitting their socialism) to replace the Constitution with a socialist manifesto (e.g., see this and this).

In any event, Seidman remarks (on page 5) that
Most of the great goals of the Constitution's preamble that form the center of Tushnet's thin constitution -- to "establish Justice ... promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty...."
Which is to admit that Tushnet does not honor the Constitution. For the Constitution is not its preamble, it is the text that follows. That text specifies, in some detail, how justice, the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty are to be realized under law.

Tushnet's "thin" Constitution, then, is no Constitution at all. It is a do-it-yourself approach to law, in which the majority may steal the minority's property, and vice versa, as long as it is done in the name of "social justice." (See also this.)