Constitution 101 for (not by) Ivy League professors

Professor Seidman over at Georgetown University is “ashamed” that it took him so long to realize that we should “give up on the Constitution.” Regretfully, I must admit that I did not receive an Ivy League education and I was not indoctrinated by Georgetown geniuses; but, it does seem clear to me that the professor’s shame is a bit misdirected. Considering he was more privileged than I, it is shameful that he is either more ignorant to Constitutional scholarship than I or worse — he lacks the ethics to care that misleading people is wrong.

Richard Baris is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @RichBaris

Richard Baris is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @RichBaris

It strikes me as impossible that Seidman, a Constitutional law scholar, would be so naive as to write such an article in the New York Times without the aim being intentional deception. However, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and recap Constitutional Law 101. Hopefully we can clear up some misnomers for him and his readers.

Why must tax bills originate from the House of Representatives? There are several reasons for this mechanism and they all stem from the fact that the House has the closest relationship to the people. Bureaucracy can only implement public policy when funded. The people hold the power to object to despotic policy by defunding programs, salaries, and entire institutions.

Economist Milton Friedman correctly defined government debt as the bill eventually paid by the people in the form of higher taxes. More revenue to the government results in more power to the government and less freedom to the people. Ergo the people’s House ultimately holds the power of the purse to protect their freedom. Easy enough, right? Surely the professor knows that?

Why should we care to obey the Constitution if others have defied the Constitution before? A Georgetown University scholar is attempting to convince the readers to junk the Constitution by essentially arguing that two wrongs make a right. And yet, the New York Times runs it as Gospel. Yes, John Adams did ignore the 1st Amendment by signing the Alien & Sedition Acts that effectively banned free speech. So, is this supposed help his argument? Surely the professor wants to protect free speech?

Adams also served only one term, which is a testament to our Constitution and why we should “debate” the duration of a presidential term. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency does teach us a lesson about presidential power but one that serves as a warning, not an example. Had Roosevelt been allowed to consolidate more power, which is what Washington feared when he stepped down after two terms, the judicial branch would only serve as an instrument to impose the will of the executive branch. Surely the professor wants to limit presidential power?

Other countries do not need a Constitution, so why do we? The founders argued the need for a constitutional government that was “fundamental” or  defined by written law. The constitutional governments of Britain and New Zealand, as referenced by Seidman, are inadequate to preserve our federalist system. The Constitution was not “itself born out of constitutional disobedience” because there was no “fundamental” relationship between the States and the federal government outlined in the Articles of Confederation. The States could not be forced to comply with the Treaty of Paris nor can branches of government be restrained to their respected powers without such boundaries defined. To suggest that our institutions will serve in place of the Constitution is either naive or ill intended. Surely the professor is not naive?

The entire premise of this argument is flawed. Seidman argues that despite defiance in the Constitution we have not only survived but we have thrived. Maybe the view is a little blurry from the top of the ivory tower at Georgetown University, but it is pretty obvious to most Americans — we are not fine.

Sarcasm aside, the country is far from surviving and certainly not thriving. As a nation we are sick and growing weaker by the day. Now is not the time to abandon anymore of who we are. That’s what they want because in political discourse, dysfunction is the ally of radicalism.

The professor is not naive in his understanding of the Constitution nor is the New York Times unaware of the article’s intention. This argument, that we better believe is coming, albeit in fragments by the professor’s own admission, is a culmination of a long-term despotic effort by progressives to dismantle and destroy this republic.

Seidman suspiciously pokes fun at Constitutionalists for fearing a Hobbesian state of nature. He wants you to find it ridiculous to fear that given the chance your government would ever oppress you. But he knows it’s not the actual state of nature that Constitutionalists fear. The nature of governments which more often than not oppresses the governed are what they fear. If the fear is unjustified, then why do they attack only the amendments within the Bill of Rights? He doesn’t want to write about that ugly truth.

Judging by the last election, the American people have been detached from the political process, but my intuition tells me the left is grossly over playing their hand. History as a whole is on the side of tyranny, but history hasn’t seen many Americas. I am nevertheless betting that the American people like their social contract the same way they like any other contract — on paper.



  1. Michael Ruffing says:

    It is a sign of the times that “anti-constitutionalists” feel safe enough to state their real thoughts and intentions. Yet another example of the brilliance of our constitution- free speech not only allows people to express their ideas, but it also lets you know who your enemies are.
    Professor Seidman highlights the university system as a network of overpriced and overfunded leftist seminaries. Great posting, Richard.

  2. The following link will show all how to restore the ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION – a weak Federal with limited powers and Strong State Republics with many rights and powers. Article V is the method the Founders gave we the people and the States to protect the people from Usurping by the three branches of the Federal government. They knew that the Courts and the Legislature would usurp and require a powerful option to slap them down.

  3. Perhaps it’s the collectivism Geogetown U is teaching their students? After all, isn’t that the same school of Ms. Sandra Fluke? Taxpayers should fund her birth control. If the progressives can throw out the constitution then they can throw out our amendment rights. This has been a leftist meme for a while. It’s another way to bring America down. The New York Times is the mouthpiece for the progressive wannabe elites. Is Prof Seidman putting his bias before logic, or his logic before knowing what the U.S. Constitution is? Conservatives should expose the holes in leftists’ arguments. Great job schooling Ivy league professors

    • PS,
      that is why we the people must force our Legislatures to repeal the offending amendments as show above – for 125 + years the Progressives have been washing away the history and strength of RULE – BY – LAW foundation of the USA and the many States . . . we call this foundation of rock the CONSTITUTION.

  4. It is indeed the same school as Sandra “I am a tool Fluke”… I appreciate your comments and maybe just maybe we have hope with self-thinking people like you. But we need to come out of our shells now, stick together, and go on the offensive. With people like you they will never get our liberties. Ever!

  5. Excellent article except for one item….” Regretfully, I must admit that I did not receive an Ivy League education and I was not indoctrinated by Georgetown geniuses” Any education should never be regretted. Today Ivy League education is bias and snobbery prevails, it does not insure that the education given is one that gives you the tools to move forward in life nor does it mean that they put their pants on any different than you as proven by your article.
    We should never bend down nor take a back seat in our knowledge, as it is how we use that knowledge that makes men of us.

  6. It’s so tabu that a professor is paving the way to destroy America the beautiful to America the destroyed

  7. Reblogged this on lauralee21's Blog and commented:
    Great read.. I thought common sense would of prevailed w the professor. However, it never fails, it doesn’t matter how smart you are when you lack coming sense. Great job on uncovering the stupidity of the professoe

  8. Interestingly, I tackle Professor Seidman’s (as well as that of much of the Left) argument in my book, The Constitution – I’m Not Kidding and Other Tales of Liberal Folly, although I do it in an intentionally humorous way. Chapter 1 addresses the Left’s argument that because we have newer and better stuff (things the Founders could not have contemplated), most, if not all, of the Constitution is irrelevant. The idea that because James Madision didn’t have an iPod we should do away with the First Amendment, for example, strikes me as a bit silly.

  9. We are discussing this column on The Brenner Brief talk show tonight, 9-1030p ET! Listen in! Rich Baris, the column’s author, will be joining us.


  1. […] Constitution 101 for (not by) Ivy League professors ( — by Rich Baris […]

  2. […] Constitution 101 for (not by) Ivy League professors ( […]

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