December 16, 1933 - Editorial - Undermining the Constitution, by George Lorimer

The eager discussion among intelligent men, both in and out of the legal profession, of the part which the Supreme Court may take in respect to the New Deal only emphasizes anew the living value of our constitutional safeguards. Insinuations being made against this charter of order and liberty by a small but highly vocal element serve to throw its services into sharper perspective, but they should at the same time put on their guard that great multitude of sober citizens who are not to be carried away by the latest outburst of radicalism.

Naturally, there are features of the extraordinary emergency legislation of last spring and summer, together with various administrative measures, which seem bound, in course of time, to reach the Supreme Court for a constitutional test. These issues are weighty enough without constant intimations from some enthusiasts for the New Deal that if the Constitution stands in the way, then so much worse for the Constitution.

But these intimations should fall on deaf ears, unless the American people have lost both faith and courage. The Constitution has bent to a process of gradual, orderly and, for the most part, desirable change. It has proved a marvelous instrument for the considered workings of popular will, for democracy in operation. Only a few weeks ago, a great basic change came about through constitutional process in the repeal of the 18th Amendment.

All manner of further alterations can be made in the Constitution, if the people can be aroused to the necessity of them. Much of our machinery of government needs overhauling to bring it into line with the conditions which science, invention and changing methods of life now impose. But this does not mean the essence of a constitutional system is outworn. It has been a rallying point, a stabilizing force through a century and a half which was filled with wars and terrible crises as well as peace and contentment.

The Constitution has been praised at times without discrimination. But it covers all classes; it provides for rulers as well as for people. Always it is a symbol of the way to avoid both anarchy and despotism, the two great banes of all nations. It is the very antithesis of both anarchy and despotism.

This being the case, the people should, we repeat, turn a deaf ear to those destructive forces which, by nagging and insinuation and innuendo, seek to persuade us that the Constitution is outworn. It is archaic if continuity, sequence, order, unity and evolution no longer have any place in life, but not otherwise. (pg. 22)

Comments: It's amazing how pieces of paper with words written on them can cause such a fuss. After all, that's all the Constitution was and still is. It's just that the legal procedures and the limitations of power outlined on those pieces of paper forbade FDR, his associates, and Congress from doing what they were trying to get away with. FDR should have called for a Constitutional Convention instead of an emergency session of Congress.

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