July 25-26: Who Should Elect the President?

The Convention spent a considerable amount of time going around in circles regarding how to elect the President. For the most part, there was agreement that they ought not be chosen by the Legislature. So the question then became who was to choose presidents if not the legislature. Since this would be a national office, could the people as a nation choose them directly? It is often said that the Convention settled on the Electoral College partially because they wanted a filtering mechanism such that presidents would be chosen by those with more judgment and experience than the mass of … Continue reading July 25-26: Who Should Elect the President?

July 9 in the Constitutional Convention

On July 9, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention took up the question of the initial representation of each state in the lower House. The committee report on the floor consisted of two parts. The first apportioned representatives initially; the second provided a principle of growth. The principle of growth was apportionment according to wealth and population. The issue simmering barely under the surface was enslavement, and William Paterson put it in the open. His argument would have echoes later in American history. According to Madison’s notes, Paterson “was also agst. such an indirect encouragemt. of the slave trade; observing … Continue reading July 9 in the Constitutional Convention

A New Constitution for the United States

Democracy: A Journal of Ideas today published a new draft constitution for the United States. Editor Michael Tomasky describes this special symposium as “probably the most ambitious project ever undertaken by this journal.” This was an extraordinary endeavor that brought together legal academics, political scientists and some journalists to return to the fundamentals and rethink the American political order and the role the present Constitution plays in generating or enhancing the political pathologies now gripping the United States. I was one of the 55 delegates to this drafting convention that spent the last year deliberating — and I have an … Continue reading A New Constitution for the United States

Roe: Considering the Counterfactual

At The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse notices an under-appreciated aspect of the Supreme Court’s decision to take up a Mississippi case that it could use to overturn or restrict Roe. v. Wade. She writes that legislators in pro-life states, who have been multiplying restrictions on abortion to test Roe, will now be accountable for them: Ever since the 2010 election ushered new Republican majorities into state legislatures, politicians there have been able to impose increasingly severe abortion restrictions without consequence, knowing that the lower courts would enjoin the laws before they took effect and save the people’s representatives from … Continue reading Roe: Considering the Counterfactual

Commission and Corruption

Amanda Carpenter has a terrific piece today at The Bulwark laying out the reasons that compel the need for a January 6 Commission to comprehensively review and assess the insurrection at the Capitol. George Thomas recently began a conversation on this topic here at The Constitutionalist. The House is voting today on a bill to establish this commission. It was crafted in a truly bi-partisan fashion by the House Homeland Security Committee, modeled on the body formed to investigate the 9/11 attacks. When the January 6 commission was initially discussed, the tentative plan was to model the commission on the … Continue reading Commission and Corruption

Repeal the First 100 Days

I have a piece in The New York Times this morning arguing that the first-100-days standard for presidents is an arbitrary benchmark that encourages change for its own sake while punishing prudence. Presidents who simply want to govern never stand a chance by that measure, because we tend to assess presidents by the scale and speed of change and not by its necessity. It’s possible, I argue, that President Biden confronted crises on the scale of Franklin Roosevelt (who borrowed the 100-days standard from Napoleon to describe his blitz against the Great Depression). But it’s less likely that the nation … Continue reading Repeal the First 100 Days

Sinister Syncopation: The “New Conspiracism” Meets the Intellectuals of the Reactionary Right

This is the second in a series of several essays by different authors on the issue of conspiracies.  This series is sponsored by Claremont McKenna’s Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom. Laura Field is a scholar in residence at … Continue reading Sinister Syncopation: The “New Conspiracism” Meets the Intellectuals of the Reactionary Right

Grossman/Binder interview about the filibuster

Here is an excellent in-the-weeds discussion of the filibuster, between Matt Grossman and Sarah Binder, for the Niskanen Center. The two political scientists get into the current politics in the senate surrounding filibuster reform. It’s pretty fascinating, and a good companion to Adam Jentleson’s work (see links below). Here’s an excerpt from Grossman and Binder’s transcript: Matt Grossmann: So one thing that reformers often say is that these folks in the middle would have all the power under a 50 vote Senate, so why aren’t they in favor of moving it there? Molly Reynolds, who we’ve had on the podcast … Continue reading Grossman/Binder interview about the filibuster

The Stupidity of the Johnson & Johnson Pause

Update: Although not definitive, this study would seem to supply some evidence for my claim. The pause on J&J shots because of an astronomically low risk rate is, I think, remarkably stupid. The chances of getting hit by lightning or winning the lottery are higher than the chance of a blood clot. Medicine always carries risks. The risks are typically much higher than 6 in one million. Although the American public might overrate such risks (they actually think the next ticket is the one that wins them the lottery), the “scientists” at the CDC should know better. Apparently, the people … Continue reading The Stupidity of the Johnson & Johnson Pause