Forecast #3: the death of the US Constitution
The Constitution was originally designed to specify the duties for each of America’s three branches and to limit their powers. Its ability to do the latter function has faded rapidly since the New Deal. Already most of the Bill of Rights remain de jure in force but are de facto void, as can be seen by a Lexis search of successful attempts to use them in litigation – you’ll find almost none.
At some point soon the Constitution will become a purely procedural document, much like that of the former Soviet Union, and equally effective at preserving our liberties. Our rights will exist only on the sufferance of our government and our ruling elites. This is already true in the UK, as the “unwritten constitution” protecting the “rights of Englishmen” has blown away like smoke in the wind.
One can see our future in the fracas over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. Judicial outrage over the Bush administration bypassing of the Court of Review cannot result from concern over our civil liberties. The Court of Review apparently seldom if ever denied requests for government action. The Supremes’ horror is understandable, however, as this cut the judiciary out from a role in the rapidly expanding national security apparatus – an obvious violation of the balance of power among the three Branches.
Roman history shows how recognition of these things lags behind the facts. Generations passed before people recognized that the Republic was truly dead. America has violated the initial conditions the founders considered necessary for a republic.
A small government
A citizenry of farmers, self-employed craftsman, and business owners
An educated citizenry, knowledgeable about the republic’s history and operation
A people jealous of their liberties and willing to fight to preserve them.
We have traded liberty for promises of equality, security, and prosperity. The cost is our Constitution. Everything has a price.
The predominate reaction of the Romans to the death of the Republic was resignation, as seen in the popular philosophies of the Empire: Stoicism, Epicureanism, Hedonism, and Christianity.
How will Americans react when they realize that the Constitution has died? For a deeper analysis of this, see
- Forecast: Death of the American Constitution
- Diagnosing the Eagle, Chapter III — reclaiming the Constitution
- The Constitution: wonderful, if we can keep it