Professor Levinson follows a long line of progressive thinkers, going back to President Woodrow Wilson and his contemporary academic inspiration, leftist economic historian Charles Beard, who have sought to de-legitimize our Constitution. Progressives detest the Constitution because, at its core, it is a repudiation of the progressive philosophy of ever-expanding governmental power over our lives. Is it any wonder, for example, that the progressive secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, admitted that she didn’t bother to check the Constitution or judicial precedent before proceeding with the Obama administration’s trampling of First Amendment religious freedom rights with the ill-conceived contraception mandate?
Anti-Constitution progressives wrap their bias in the argument that the Constitution deserves little respect because it enshrined slavery. This is a completely irrelevant objection to the Constitution as it exists today, with amendments correcting its defects and adjusting to changing circumstances, including the 136-year-old Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. Even before this amendment, the black abolitionist Frederick Douglass had come to see the Constitution as containing mechanisms to eventually do away with slavery, and he was right.
The Constitution stands for limited government, whose primary responsibilities are to help protect our God-given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and to secure our common defense. Progressives, on the other hand, want a government with the unfettered power to create rights of guaranteed equality of economic and social outcome. The result is either stagnation and ultimate decline of society as individuals lose their incentive to create, invest and work, or bloody repression to force individuals to serve the government’s conception of the “greater good.” Both end very badly.
Professor Levinson charges that too many Americans “have seemingly lost their capacity for thinking seriously about the extent to which the Constitution serves us well. Instead, the Constitution is enveloped in near religious veneration.”
Professor Levinson and his progressive colleagues could not be more wrong. Most Americans respect their Constitution because, even with its admitted imperfections, it is fulfilling its promise to secure “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” on the path towards “a more perfect Union.”
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