Monday, July 14, 2014

How liberals can reclaim the Constitution - Jack Balkin - The Washington Post

How liberals can reclaim the Constitution - The Washington Post:
by Jack Balkin
 "For years, conservatives have called for taking back the Constitution. In one sense, that claim is deeply ironic: Conservatives have dominated the appointments to the federal courts for a generation, and over the years, they’ve fundamentally reshaped voting rights, church-state relations and campaign finance regulation (to name just a few areas).  But conservative calls for restoring a lost Constitution also make sense. The Constitution is more than a legal document: It’s a shared symbol of the country and its ideals.
Conservatives are engaged in a reform project — often quite radical in its implications. And every important movement for change in the United States has proclaimed that the Constitution is on its side. You might wonder: where have liberals been all this time? Why aren’t they demanding to “take back the Constitution?”
Well, they have been, just not as loudly. In fact, 25 years of hard work by liberal scholars, lawyers and thinkers is about to bear fruit.  We are on the verge of a renaissance of liberal constitutionalism, one that I predict will blossom fully in the next decade.
 First, liberal scholars have challenged conservative dogmas about the American constitutional tradition, a tradition that extends from the Founding to today. The proudest moments of that tradition — including the expansion of voting rights and equality for blacks and women — are liberal and egalitarian. My colleague Akhil Amar’s 2005 biography of the Constitution tells a story of progress and inclusion, discomfiting conservative nay-sayers in every era."

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