Sounding the Alarm

This morning The New Republic and The Bulwark simultaneously published an Open Letter (linked here to each publication). This effort, organized by Todd Gitlin, Jeffrey Isaac and Bill Kristol, brings together an array of writers from the left to the right, from Noam Chomsky to Mona Charen, from Michael Walzer to Max Boot, from Dahlia Lithwick to Damon Linker. I am honored to be among them and joined by fellow contributor here, Laura Field. This is a moment of democratic crisis and the reasons to call attention to it this way are well described in the letter and in this … Continue reading Sounding the Alarm

Claremont Institute Dissembles 

I agree entirely with Greg Weiner’s post on The Claremont Institute. To follow the Clue analogy, the evidence suggests, contrary to the Claremont Institute’s dissembling statement, that Eastman was doing far more than offering legal advice.  Here’s the memo itself. Maybe it could be read as only offering advice to Vice President Pence on his authority under the 12th Amendment.  But here’s Eastman on Jan 6, where he “demands” that Vice President Pence exercise his constitutional “authority” to pause the counting of the state certified EC votes: https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4933578/user-clip-rudy-giuliani-professor-john-eastman Continue reading Claremont Institute Dissembles 

Claremont Plays the Victim Card

The Claremont Institute released a statement this morning defending John Eastman against charges that he tried to subvert the 2020 election by giving Vice President Pence a road map for impeding the Electoral College. It lodges two complaints. The first amounts to a claim that the media has misrepresented the precise manner in which Eastman advised Pence to subvert the voters’ constitutional will. This is like a player of the game Clue saying that Colonel Mustard was a good dinner guest because he actually committed the murder in the conservatory with the lead pipe rather than in the conservatory with … Continue reading Claremont Plays the Victim Card

Thunder on the Mountain

For reasons I don’t quite understand myself, the current controversy at the American Political Science Association brought to mind this Bob Dylan song. The APSA meets this week in Seattle with many members attending remotely online. Among the panels on the preliminary schedule are some sponsored by outside organizations given affiliated status. For many years the Claremont Institute has been among these groups. This year Claremont advertised a panel that included the insurrectionist and vile minor league law professor John Eastman. As readers of The Constitutionalist will know, Eastman delivered an incendiary speech at Trump’s insurrection rally, and had planned … Continue reading Thunder on the Mountain

August 9, 10 and 11: Republican Nationalism

Today is catchup day: reflections on the debates of August 9, 10 and 11. On August 9, the delegates discussed an issue with contemporary resonance: immigration. The question was how long senators should have to have been citizens before serving. The proposition on the table was four years. Gouverneur Morris, fearing foreign agents as senators—or at least foreign intrigues to influence the Senate—moved to extend it to 14 years. That sparked firm responses from Madison, Franklin and Wilson. Madison felt the restriction involved “a tincture of illiberality” that might affect all immigrants, not just senators. If the Constitution succeeded, “men who … Continue reading August 9, 10 and 11: Republican Nationalism

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