Sunday, August 07, 2005

John Fund recently wrote a column endorsing term limits for Supreme Court justices. Fund is typically a predictable dullard and partisan hack when it comes to conveying opinions, lacking any sensible reasoning. So why his sudden lurch to favoring what appears to be a progressive solution, one that makes terrific sense?

I agree with his suggestion that Supreme Court terms should not be for life. With "life" these days equating to 80+ years, and the body very often outlasting the mind, this Constitutional provision -- like many others -- has become antiquated and is no longer valid in our more modern age. Also, political pressure has increased to the point where justices are influenced into staying on beyond a period of time of their choosing. And as Fund points out, it's this "for life" aspect that raises the stakes in the confirmation hearings and greatly contributes to the entire process spinning out of control.

How about twelve years (presidential term X 3) and then Congress reconsiders for another twelve?

However, I remain suspicious as to why Fund would propose a revision to the Constitution. It is just so out of character for a loyal water carrier to the staunchly conservative side. Could it be Fund does indeed lose sleep over the fact that Roberts could eventually drift towards moderation -- as Souter did? And that this drift appears to be well-founded (see Slate article)? Perhaps.

But for too long, conservatives have treated the Constitution with excessive sanctity. They treat this piece of paper with almost insane reverence, as if every word written on it over 200+ years ago has 100% relevance today. For those of us in the fact-based community, that's simply impossible.

Don't get me wrong. The ideas, principles, and spirit of the document are wonderful and essential to our success as a country. Yet, time does not stand still and we as a people and nation progress -- at an accelerating pace I would add. Thus, it only makes sense that certain aspects or passages of the Constitution become dated. In fact, if the Framers were alive today, it would not surprise me if they'd scold us for not modifying at least some of it! Unlike many right-wingers will have us believe, most Framers were progressive in their thinking and looked forward, not back. (The fact that they broke from England and wanted to establish a new way of living sounds pretty damn progressive to me!).

Some examples off the top of my head that need revision include the gun laws and the Electoral College. Regarding the latter, with this latest abomination -- the energy bill -- we can witness some of the legacy of the EC "protections." Yes, we all know pork spending projects are bad, but take a look at the more egregious examples in this bill. An expensive bridge being built for a population of 2000 some odd citizens? Would it have been as bad if the "pork" bridge was built across the Hudson River, connecting NJ with NYC and providing another means for millions of commuters to earn a living?

I would love to see a pork per capita metric whereby dollars involved was divided by the number of citizens the given project benefits. I'd be willing to wager a great number of the hundreds of thousands of pork projects over the last few decades are things that besides being pointless ventures, benefited a certain small number of people. By insuring the representation of less-populated states, the EC/Senate structure has for too long "over-represented" the folks in such states as Idaho, Wyoming, and Alaska, and "under-represented" citizens in more densely populated states.

Again, the larger point here is that progressive thinking and the willingness to change and adapt with the times (i.e. being proactive) should not be a taboo concept. Instead and more so, it's completely and utterly American.

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