New York Times guest essay calls on liberals to bypass ‘broken’ Constitution and make it more ‘changeable’

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A New York Times guest essay argued that liberals need to stop caring about the « broken » Constitution and instead find other avenues to enact policy, or perhaps make the world’s oldest charter more » changeable ».

According to Dr. Ryan D. Doerfler and Dr. Samuel Moyn, the solution is not to « reclaim » the Constitution from the Republicans, but rather to reclaim America from constitutionalism. The constitutions, the authors argued, reorient our country to the past and « error in the present, » causing disputes over interpretations of what people believed centuries ago, not what « the present and the future demands ». The authors claimed that the Constitution is « inadequate », serving only to benefit « reactionaries ».

« Starting with a notoriously undemocratic text, progressives are forced to navigate hard-wired elements, like the Electoral College and the Senate, designed as obstacles to redistributive change while relying on much vaguer and more malleable resources like commitments to due process and equal protection,” Doerfler and Moyn wrote.

The couple admitted it is difficult to find a constitutional basis for unions or abortion in a document « largely written by well-to-do men over two centuries ago ». Consequently, New York Times guest essayists have argued that liberal lawmakers should instead approach the issue on their merits, regardless of invoking the Constitution. They added that leaving democracy “hostage” to the Constitution is a challenge and requires extraordinary consensus in order to achieve “meaningful progress”.


Facsimile of the Constitution of the United States of America dated September 17, 1787. (Photo by Fotosearch/Getty Images).
(Fotosearch/Getty Images)

« It won’t be easy, but a new way of fighting within American democracy must begin with a more open policy of changing our basic law, perhaps in the first place by making the Constitution more amendable than it is. is currently, » Doerfler and Moyn continued. .

Another way to make America more democratic, according to the essayists, is to fill the country with more states.

“It would allow Americans to then use the formal amendment process to change the ground rules of politics and break the false impasse that the Constitution imposes on the country through the Electoral College and the Senate,” the authors wrote. essayists.

The article also suggested that Congress could simply pass legislation reorganizing the legislature to more « fairly » represent where people vote and live. Perhaps the Senate could even be reduced to a « board of reviews » without the power « to obstruct laws », Doerfler and Moyn speculated.


An image of the main entrance to the New York Times building in New York City.

An image of the main entrance to the New York Times building in New York City.
(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo)

« In doing so, Congress would quite openly challenge the Constitution to achieve a more democratic order — and for that reason, it should insulate the law from judicial review, » they admitted.

This solution would ensure that the « basic structures of government », such as electing the president by majority vote or limiting judges to fixed terms, could be decided by the current electorate, rather than by the words of a « foggy past ».

Democratic politicians and members of left-wing news outlets have repeatedly criticized the Constitution in recent years.


In May, a New York Times columnist called the originalists « dangerous » and called the Supreme Court an « instrument of oppression. »

Nation magazine correspondent Elie Mystal claimed in March that the Constitution was written by a « group of wealthy white politicians who made deals with each other », owned slaves and did not allow non-whites to live. have a voice. At the time, Mystal doubled down on his claim that the Constitution is « actually trash, » a comment he previously made on ABC News’ « The View. »


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