Sunday, August 06, 2006

All Perfectly Legal

Book Review
Title: The Constitution in Exile
Author: Andrew P. Napolitano

Most people probably have seen judge Andrew P. Napolitano on the Fox News network, where he is often called upon to be a judicial analyst. I am currently working through his book "The Constitution in Exile, How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land".

It's an interesting book, and it is full of plenty of legal information regarding important case histories. On that level I do recommend the book.

But on another level, the more I read the book the more I found myself saying stuff like "pul-leeze!" or "give me a break!" or "you can't be serious!" Napolitano might long for the glory days of the good old "Lochner Court", but for my part I have no desire to return to any of that. Yes, Napolitano might be completely correct in saying the rapacious, laissez-faire capitalism of the 19th Century — with its 60-hour work weeks, gruesome sweatshops, 14 year old children working in coal mines, union-busting Pinkerton Detective thuggery, greedy and bloated monopolies, and whatnot — may have been all perfectly legal and "constitutional", but he should remember that it was also perfectly hellacious.

When the nation's founders wrote the Constitution, they never anticipated the direction that the 19th Century Industrial Revolution would take, especially in its more destructive aspects. That a private individual like John D. Rockefeller could amass such immense power was probably unimaginable to them. Therefore, it is clearly foolish to think that the founders necessarily had the ultimate and final word on everything. If they had been able to foresee what was going to happen, my bets are they probably would have tweaked the Constitution accordingly. And truly it might have been more honest back then, in the 1800s, to have had another constitutional convention to better delineate the course of things and how to handle the situation, rather than dealing with it by a convoluted process of stretching the document with overly-inventive interpretations. But for me, returning to anything like the "Lochner Court" is must plain lunacy.

Reading the book has clearly brought back to me just why it is that I can never embrace the radically libertarian wing of the Republican Party.