A Skeptical View of Constitution Worship – Michael Klarman (Balkinization Blog)

Posted on October 1, 2010 by


The following is a transcript from a lecture by Michael Klarman,  Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, who opposes those who have an uncritical view of the Constitution and treat it with dogma.

Key Points:

I have four points I want to make today against constitutional idolatry, which is my label for our misguided tendency to blindly worship the Constitution, giving it credit for all the things we love and honor about our country.
(1) The Framers’ constitution, to a large degree, represented values we should abhor or at least reject today.

(2) There are parts of the Constitution with which we are still stuck today even though we would never freely choose them and they are impossible to defend based on contemporary values.

(3) For the most part, the Constitution is irrelevant to the current political design of our nation.

(4) The rights protections we do enjoy today, the importance of which I do not minimize, are mostly a function of political and social mores, which have dramatically evolved over time and owe relatively little to courts using the Constitution to protect them.

Read the rest here at the Balkinization blog.

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