Tag-arkiv: konstitutionalisme

Bushs borgerkrig

Hermed en lidt lang “round-up” for, hvordan Republikanerne i den forgangne uge har været i borgerkrig—eller rettere: bombning af hovedkvarteret:

Mange har—med en vis ret—set de muligheder for udnævnelser af nye højesteretsdommere, som præsident George W. Bush har kunnet disponere over, som hans måske væsentligste mulighed for at påvirke amerikansk indenrigspolitik på langt sigt. Og netop derfor er store dele af den amerikanske højrefløj nu i fuld udblæsning med en endog meget skarp og skrap kritik af Bush—ikke kun for hans udgiftspolitik men også—og i særdeleshed—for netop nomineringen af White House Counsel Harriet Miers til Associate Justice ved US Supreme Court.  Og i modsætning til, hvad danske medier får det til at lyde som, så har kritikken meget lidt at gøre med abort.

Kritikken har derimod alt at gøre med, at man på den amerikanske højrefløj (bredt forstået) i et par årtier har set frem til at kunne brudt med +70 års brug af Højesteret til at udvide forbundsregeringens opgaver.  Det var, hvad Rehnquists “New Federalism” gik ud på, og det er, hvad man nu mener, Bush har set stort på ved at nominere sin egen advokat—en person, der tilsyneladende er uden andre bemærkelsesværdige kvalifikationer end at Bush har talt religion med hende og har “set ind i hendes hjerte”.

Kritikken er ved at nå sådanne højder, at man formodentlig skal tilbage til George H.W. Bushs brud på sit løfte om “No New Taxes” for at finde lignende kritik fra baglandet af en Republikansk leder. Den eklektisk-konservative britiske kommentator og super-blogger Andrew Sullivan har i London Times meget fint sammenfattet problematikken på denne måde:

She has never been a judge and has never, to anyone’s knowledge, even proffered an opinion about the fundamental constitutional issues with which the Supreme Court grapples daily. But last Monday Harriet Miers was nominated to be one of only nine justices on the Supreme Court of the United States. She was, in President Bush’s words, “the best person I could find.” …

Why the outrage on the right?  It’s explicable for both short-term and long-term reasons.  In the short term this president has betrayed every conservative principle with regard to public spending.  Most conservatives bottled up their dyspepsia before the election for partisan reasons, or because they believed that the war on terror was too important to be left to John Kerry. But now that spending is spiralling up again, and Bush seems utterly unconcerned, they’re angry. … Bush blew it. He bypassed any number of superb judges to place his personal lawyer on the court. Hence the explosion of anger.”

Og derfor f.eks. på tirsdagens pressemøde dette overraskende spørgsmål til Bush fra en journalist: “Are you still a conservative?”.

Vores ærede med-Punditokrat Mchangama har allerede forleden skrevet om emnet med henvisning til de første kommentarer fra konservative kommentatorer, men her er nogle flere klip og en delvis round-up:

  • George F. Will, fremtrædende og frygtløs konservativ kommentator (som i 1988 sammenlignede daværende vicepræsident George H.W. Bush med en skødehund), skrev (som jeg selv nævnte forleden) en intet mindre end syrlig klumme.  Den har nu gjort Will så ildeset i Det Hvide Hus, at Bush ved et offentligt arrangement forleden nidstirrede ham.  Will spørger: Kan nomineringen af Miers retfærdiggøres?  Han giver svaret allerede i indledningen: “Senators beginning what ought to be a protracted and exacting scrutiny of Harriet Miers should be guided by three rules. First, it is not important that she be confirmed. Second, it might be very important that she not be. Third, the presumption—perhaps rebuttable but certainly in need of rebutting—should be that her nomination is not a defensible exercise of presidential discretion to which senatorial deference is due. It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court’s tasks. The president’s “argument” for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to … He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.”
  • Randy Barnett, juraprofessor og ledende klassisk-liberal retsfilosof, kalder i en kommentar i Wall Street Journal nomineringen for det værst tænkelige eksempel på den type “cronyism”, som forfatningens “founding fathers” advarede imod.
  • Rush Limbaugh, den mest lyttede til talk-radiovært i amerikansk radio, sagde i sit program: “There was an opportunity here to show strength and confidence, and I don’t think this is it … It seems to me from the outset that this is a pick that was made from weakness. … There are plenty of known quantities out there who would be superb for the Court. This is a nominee that we don’t know anything about. It makes her less of a target, but also doesn’t show a position of strength.”
  • Dommer Robert Bork, den fremtrædende jurist som Reagan i 1987 nominerede til SCOTUS, men som blev nedstemt i senatet (og som dermed lagde grunden for det amerikansk verbum “at blive ‘borked’“), kalder i et interview Miers-nomineringen “a disaster on every level … It’s a little late to develop a constitutional philosophy or begin to work it out when you’re on the court already … It’s kind of a slap in the face to the conservatives who’ve been building up a conservative legal movement for the last 20 years.
  • Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer Pris-vindende konservativ kommentator ved Washington Post, skriver i sin klumme, at nomineringen er intet mindre end skandaløs og opfordrer direkte Bush til at trække nomineringen tilbage: “[N]ominating a constitutional tabula rasa to sit on what is America’s constitutional court is an exercise of regal authority with the arbitrariness of a king giving his favorite general a particularly plush dukedom. The only advance we’ve made since then is that Supreme Court dukedoms are not hereditary. It is particularly dismaying that this act should have been perpetrated by the conservative party. For half a century, liberals have corrupted the courts by turning them into an instrument of radical social change on questions—school prayer, abortion, busing, death penalty—that properly belong to the elected b
    ranches of government. Con
    servatives have opposed this arrogation of the legislative role and called for the restoration of the purely interpretive role of the court. To nominate someone whose adult life reveals no record of even participation in debates about constitutional interpretation is an insult to the institution, and to that vision of the institution. There are 1,084,504 lawyers in the U.S. What distinguishes Harriet Miers from any of them other than her connection with the president? To have selected her, when conservative jurisprudence has J. Harvie Wilkinson, Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell and at least a dozen others on a bench deeper than that of the New York Yankees, is scandalous. … [The] president has ducked a fight on the most important domestic question dividing liberals from conservatives: the principles by which one should read and interpret the Constitution. For a man whose presidency is marked by a courageous willingness to think and do big things, this nomination is a sorry retreat into smallness.
  • John Fund, politisk redaktør ved Wall Street Journal og som sådan noget af en big-shot i amerikanske medier, har i den forgangne uge ændret holdning. Først var han ikke begejstret for Miers-nomineringen, men mente hun skulle have en chance; nu mener han kun det første: “[That] was before I interviewed more than a dozen of her friends and colleagues along with political players in Texas. I came away convinced that questions about Ms. Miers should be raised now—and loudly—because she has spent her entire life avoiding giving a clear picture of herself. “She is unrevealing to the point that it’s an obsession,” says one of her close colleagues at her law firm. … Harriet Miers is unquestionably a fine lawyer and a woman of great character. But her record on constitutional issues is nil, and it is therefore understandable that conservatives, having been burned at least seven times in the past 50 years, would be hesitant about supporting her nomination.”
  • William Kristol, neo-konservativ chef-ideolog og redaktør ved Weekly Standard, siger træk nomineringen tilbage eller gå selv“President Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers was an out-of-the-blue act of loyalty to a longtime staffer. Is it too much to hope that she might reciprocate by withdrawing, thereby sparing her boss the chance of lasting damage to his legacy that her appointment to the Supreme Court may well represent?”
  • Peggy Noonan, taleskriver for Reagan, Bush 41 m.fl. og skribent ved Wall Street Journal siger, at det er svært at forstå, hvad Bush tænkte på“[The] Miers pick was another administration misstep. The president misread the field, the players, their mood and attitude. He called the play, they looked up from the huddle and balked. And debated. And dissed. Momentum was lost. The quarterback looked foolish. The president would have been politically better served by what Pat Buchanan called a bench-clearing brawl. A fractious and sparring base would have come together arm in arm to fight for something all believe in: the beginning of the end of command-and-control liberalism on the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Democrats, forced to confront a serious and principled conservative of known stature, would have damaged themselves in the fight. If in the end President Bush lost, he’d lose while advancing a cause that is right and doing serious damage to the other side. Then he could come back to win with the next nominee. And if he won he’d have won, rousing his base and reminding them why they’re Republicans. He didn’t do that. Why didn’t he? Old standard answer: In time of war he didn’t want to pick a fight with Congress that he didn’t have to pick. Obvious reply: So in time of war he picks a fight with his base? Also: The Supreme Court isn’t the kind of fight you “don’t have to pick.” History picks it for you. You fight.”
  • Den konservative forfatter og journalist Rich Miniter foretog først på sin egen hjemmeside og derefter i National Review en morsom punkt-for-punkt sammenligning af kvalifikationerne hos Harriet Miers og hos … den konservative talk-show vært Laura Ingraham.  Sammenligningen var utvetydigt til Ingrahams fordel (og det endda uden at inddrage mere åbenlyse, om end irrelevante, parametre).
  • Fhv. Bush-taleskriver David Frum (som formulerede “Axis of Evil”), hvis kritiserede Miers-udnævnelsen (som Jacob Mchangama omtalte forleden), hvilket har givet ham selv megen kritik fra Det Hvide Hus.  Han forklarer i en post, at han bare simpelthen finder kandidaten … dårlig: “So if I don’t dislike Miers and want the president to succeed, why am I speaking out? Aside from all the substantial reasons I have cited to date, I am speaking out because there are so many others who want to speak but cannot. I have spent hours over the past three days listening to conservative jurists on this topic—people who have devoted their lives to fighting battles for constitutionalism, for tort reform, for color-blind justice, people who fought the good fight to get Bork, Scalia, Thomas, and now Roberts onto the high Court. Their reaction to the nomination has been almost perfectly unanimous: Disappointment at best, dismay and anger at worst. Here’s the tough truth, and it will become more and more important as the debate continues: There is scarcely a single knowledgeable legal conservative in Washington who supports this nomination. There are many who are prepared to accept her, reluctantly, as the president’s choice. Some still hope that maybe it won’t turn out as bad as it looks. But ask them: “Well what if the president had consulted you on this choice,” and the answer is almost always some version of: “I would have thought he was joking.” … The woman is 60 years old, a lawyer for more than three decades. Can you see any instance in this long life and career where Miers ever took a risk on behalf of conservative principle? Can you see any indication of intellectual excellence? Did she ever do anything brave, anything that took backbone? Did anyone before this week ever describe her as oustanding in any way at all? If the answers to these questions is No, as it is, then you have to ask yourself: Why is a Republican president bypassing so many dozens of superb legal conservatives to choose Harriet Miers for the highest court in the land? “
  • James Taranto, redaktør for Wall Street Journals OpinionJournal.com, skriver i en kommentar om, hvordan amerikanske konservative har modtaget nomineringen: When President Bush nominated Harriet Miers on Monday, we saw it as a missed opportunity. It left us underwhelmed, not appalled. But having spent last evening communing here with some 1,000 conservatives at National Review’s 50th anniversary dinner, we see a political disaster in the making.  We talked to quite a few people, a

    nd we heard not a single kind word about the nomination from anyone who wasn’t on the White House staff. … Conventional wisdom still has it that Miers is a shoo-in for confirmation. We’re not so sure. From what we saw last night, the right is furious at President Bush for appointing someone they see as manifestly underqualified and for ducking a fight with the Democratic left.”

  • Den konservative kommentator Michelle Malkin kalder sin blog-round-up om emnet “Utterly underwhelmed”.  Den fremtrædende liberalistisk-konservative politolog-blogger Dan Drezner forholder sig til Bushs anbefaling af Miers’ kvalifikationer: “Whoa, hold the phone—she was a fair and honest Lottery Commissioner? Put this woman on the bench right away!!!”

Det interessante at bemærke her er (bl.a.), at ingen af disse kommentatorer er “evangelske kristne” eller tilhører, hvad der normalt ville blive opfattet som det “kristne højre”; det er derimod, som omtalt i Berlingske Søndag, faktisk blandt den sidstnævnte gruppe, at man finder flest, der støtter nomineringen—og formodentlig fordi hun er imod abort.  I bund og grund skyldes utilfredsheden, at én born-again Christian har udpeget en anden born-again Christian til et af nationens mest betydningsfulde embeder—og uden anden grund.  Derved har han for alvor vist, hvad han er, nemlig som Mark Steyn har udtrykt det: “The president is a religio-cultural conservative who believes in big government and big spending and paternalistic federal intervention in areas where few conservatives have ever previously thought it wise”.

Og hvad med de andre, man kunne have forventet ville støtte Miers-nomineringen?

  • Robert Novak, konservativ journalist og kommentator extraordinaire, fortæller i sin klumme, at Det Hvide Hus og partiledelsen har bedt Republikanske senatorer om at tage ordet i Senatet og støtte Miers.  Det har de generelt nægtet.
  • Den Republikanske formand for Senatets Retsudvalg, Arlen Specter (som skal lede behandlingen af nomineringen), har udtalt, at Miers har brug for et “crash course” i forfatningsret, og at hun ikke vil få svære spørgsmål til at begynde med …
  • Her er en udtalelse (via New York Times) fra en af dem, som Bush administrationen har hyret til at promovere Miers: “Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, said generating enthusiasm for Ms. Miers was proving difficult because “anytime we put out something positive about her it gets shot to pieces by all our allies and the blogs.””

Ouch, ouch, ouch! Med den slags venner … Noget tyder på, at Bush har lagt sig ud med en pæn del af de 45 pct. af amerikanerne, der godt kunne lide ham—og så er der ikke så mange tilbage.

PS. George Will har i øvrigt opsummeret, hvad konservative bør være utilfredse med m.h.t. Buh og Republikanerne i sin artikel i denne uges Newsweek.

En ny og "progressiv" grundlov?

På det seneste har der fra SF, de Radikale og Socialdemokratiet igen været fremsat politisk krav om en ny grundlov, ligesom denne tanke har haft støtte i en Politiken leder (Punditokraternes redaktør Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard har tidligere beskæftiget sig med emnet her). Ole Sohn forklarer på SFs hjemmeside, at en ny grundlov bl.a. skal styrke menneskerettighederne ved at afspejle Danmarks internationale forpligtelser samt indeholde socio-økonomiske menneskerettigheder. Det er i denne forbindelse interessant at kaste et nærmere blik på Sydafrikas forfatning fra 1996, hvis "Bill of Rights" netop lægger vægt på internationale menneskerettigheder herunder positive socio-økonomiske rettigheder (og retten til et rent miljø). Denne forfatning hyldes blandt mange jurister, (heriblandt professor Cass Sunstein fra University of Chicago) og særligt i menneskerettighedsbevægelsen, for at være den mest progressive af sin slags i verden. Både forfatningens internationale aspekt og de socio-økonomiske rettigheder giver dog grobund for ganske alvorlige juridiske og politiske problemstillinger, der efter min mening snarere gør den sydafrikanske forfatning til et politisk korrekt skræmmebillede end et eksempel til efterlevelse.

Lad os starte med de socio-økonomiske rettigheder. Disse rettigheder er traditionelt blevet anset som programmatiske erklæringer frem for udgørende individuelle rettigheder der kan håndhæves ved en domstol, hvilket Sydafrikas forfatning er et forsøg på at gøre op med. Stemningen i Sydafrikas forfatning bliver anslået af præamblen som bl.a. nævner "social justice" som en af forfatningens målsætninger. Endvidere fastslår den, at staten

"must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights".

 Forfatningen indebærer også, at fysiske og juridiske personer (såsom multinationale selskaber), efter omstændighederne, kan være forpligtiget af menneskerettighederne deri, ligesom, at forfatningen tillader positiv særbehandling samtidig med at den påbyder lighed for loven. Forfatningen anerkender dermed båd formel og materiel lighed, to principper som i praksis er umulige at forene.

Det materielle lighedsprincip finder konkret udtryk i specifikke socio-økonomiske rettigheder, herunder retten til en bolig og retten til sundhed, mad, vand og social sikkerhed. For at opfylde disse rettigheder skal staten

"take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights".

 Forfatningen tilsiger altså, at staten påtager sig en aktiv rolle i opfyldelsen af det enkelte menneskes velfærd, hvilket individet tillige har et menneskeretligt krav på. I ten række afgørelser har den sydafrikanske forfatningsdomstol skulle tage stilling til, hvorvidt de socio-økonomiske rettigheder så i praksis er retligt anvendelige. Domstolen har til dens ære været pragmatisk og fortolket de socio-økonomiske rettigheder som værende forskellige i natur fra de borgerlige og politiske, således, at et enkelt individ reelt ikke kan forlange en bolig, medicin etc. (hvilket har skabt frustration blandt menneskerettighedsaktivister). Men domstolen har alligevel fundet disse rettigheder krænket, hvor regeringen efter en helhedsvurdering ikke har gjort nok for f.eks. at skabe boliger til hjemløse. På trods af, at domstolens praksis bekræfter, at socio-økonomiske rettigheder ikke praktisk kan håndhæves som individuelle rettigheder, viser den samtidig, at sådanne rettigheders inkludering i en forfatning, skaber en forpligtigelse for staten til at involvere sig aktivt i økonomien via indgreb, lovgivning og omfordeling.

Det må anerkendes, at tanken om materiel lighed og omfordeling er tillokkende (og forståelig) i et samfund, hvor apartheidlove afskar mennesker fra ejendom, arbejde, sociale relationer etc. på baggrund af disse menneskers hudfarve. Apartheid umuliggjorde derved skabelsen af velstand blandt de der blev diskrimineret imod. Tiltag som høje mindstelønninger, ublu positiv særbehandling og en høj grad af omfordeling skader dog rent faktisk den (overvejende sorte) fattige del af den sydafrikanske befolkning. Derudover er sådanne tiltag også moralsk dadelværdige idet de institutionaliserer diskrimination mod et mindretal og gør dette mindretals ejendom en forudsætning for flertallets velfærd, hvorfor denne ejendom kan inddrages ( det skal selvfølgelig anerkendes, at ejendom konfiskeret fra sorte og farvede under apartheid bør føres tilbage til deres retmæssige ejere). Sådanne tiltag kan uanset, hvor moralsk forkastelig apartheid ideen og styret var ikke forsvares fra et rettighedssynspunkt "two wrongs don't make a right".

Lad os hastigt springe til det internationale aspekt af den sydafrikanske forfatning. Artikel 39(1) i den sydafrikanske forfatning fastslår at de sydafrikanske domstole når de fortolker forfatningens rettighedskatalog "must consider international law; and may consider foreign law". Lad os forestille os, at den sydafrikanske forfatningsdomstol skal afgøre et spørgsmål om diskrimination af kvinder. Domstolen er som vi har set forpligtet til at inddrage folkeretten (in casu internationale menneskerettigheder). Men hvor skal den starte? I FN regi er der 3 internationale menneskerettighedstraktater, der forbyder diskrimination på baggrund af køn. Hver af disse traktater har deres egen Komite, der fortolker de respektive rettigheder deri. Disse Komiteer fortolker ikke nødvendigvis anti-diskriminationsbestemmelser på samme vis. Herudover skal lægges, at den sydafrikanske forfatningsdomstol vil kunne støtte sig på den Europæiske, den Inter-amerikanske og den afrikanske Menneskerettighedskonvention og disse konventioners domstole/komiteers fortolkning deraf, da disse traktater også udgør folkeret. Domstolenes pligt til at inddrage forskellige og til tider modstridende folkeretlige normer uden nogen form for overordnet vejledende princip herfor, skaber en overhængende fare for, at den sydafrikanske forfatningsret og common law bliver usammenhængende og dermed vilkårlig af natur.

Med disse erfaringer in mente er der god grund til at tage afstand fra idéen om en "progressiv og moderne" grundlov. En grundlovsrevision bør dog stadig være et seriøst liberalt projekt og et godt sted at starte kunne være redaktør Kurrild-Klitgaard m.fl.s grundlovsforslag som kan læses her

Post-Rehnquist II

Så bliver det altså med sikkerhed John Roberts, der efterfølger Rehnquist som amerikansk forbundshøjesteretspræsident–og noget kunne tyde på, at det bliver med lidt større tilslutning, end jeg forudså tidligere på ugen.  (Tilsyneladende har mange Demokratiske senatorer fra delstater, der ved valget sidste år overvejende stemte på Bush, pudsigt nok haft en tendens til at større præsidentens kandidat …)  Men hvordan kommer den post-Rehnquistske æra til at se ud for US Supreme Court?  Det skrev vi om rent personale mæssigt forleden, men hvad med politikken?

En af de største amerikanske retsfilosoffer af en klassisk-liberal orientering, Professor Randy Barnett fra Boston University (forfatter til bl.a. “The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law” og “Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty”), havde i forrige uge i Wall Street Journal en kronik om netop Rehnquist.  Højesteretspræsident Rehnquist var næppe helt en, som Barnett helt “delte paraply med”, men dog én som han adskillige gange havde professionelt med at gøre—når Barnett skulle procedere for US Supreme Court (hvilket han senest gjorde i foråret, hvor Barnett talte for staternes ret til at legalisere marijuana-brug, hvilket Rehnquist støttede).  Og Barnett kunne trods andre uenigheder lide den såkaldte “New Federalism”-doktrin, som Rehnquist i praksis formulerede:

“One day soon we may mourn the death of his legacy — the jurisprudence of the Rehnquist Court.

Even before becoming chief justice, often in lonely dissents, it was William Rehnquist who was most personally responsible for what is now called “the New Federalism” — the revival of the ideas that judiciary should protect the role of the states within the federal system and enforce the textual limits on the powers of Congress. Establishing the New Federalism took enormous effort and leadership by Rehnquist over many years. Now that legacy is in jeopardy.

At the founding, and for some 150 years thereafter, the limits on congressional power provided by the Constitution of 1789 — as modified by the Fourteenth Amendment — were enforced by the Supreme Court. According to the textual plan, Congress is, with few exceptions, confined to the express powers enumerated in Article One of the Constitution. While these express powers were understood as flexible, they were nonetheless limited. When the federal government was limited to its enumerated powers, the states were left to the exercise of their police powers, subject to the limitations imposed upon them after the Civil War by the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Founders’ plan was more or less intact until the 1930s, when President Roosevelt and the New Deal Congress enacted a massive expansion of federal power. By the 1940s, the textual scheme of limited federal powers was effectively swept away by a Supreme Court dominated by appointees of President Roosevelt. In a series of landmark decisions, such as Wickard v. Filburn in 1942, the New Deal Court replaced the Constitution’s textual scheme of limited federal power with a policy of judicial deference to any claim by Congress to regulate anything and everything with even a remote connection with the national economy.

By the early 1990s, even the requirement of a remote connection was giving way, as Congress began to regulate subjects that could only be described as “interstate commerce” by Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, who asserted (in a rather scornful tone) that: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” With no judiciary to provide a constitutional compass, Congress passed laws reaching activities such as possessing a gun near a school without even trying to show how the regulated activity had any conceivable connection with “commerce . . . among the several states.”

Barnett slår fast, at det var Rehnquist, der standsede denne udvikling, fordi han havde et “forfatningsmæssigt kompas”, der i hvert enkelt sag styrede ham i én overordnet retning.  Dette var tydeligt allerede fra en række sager, mens han var menig dommer, men det blev især klart da han blev højesteretspræsident:

“With Justice Rehnquist’s ascension to chief justice, the Rehnquist Court cabined Garcia’s laissez-faire approach toward Congressional power with a series of “Tenth Amendment” cases that aimed at protecting state sovereignty from federal interference in a variety of ways. I put Tenth Amendment in quotes because this jurisprudence was never grounded on the original meaning of the Tenth Amendment, which merely affirms that the Federal government is one of delegated powers, and that all powers not delegated are reserved to the states or to the people. With the post-New Deal judiciary interpreting the delegated powers so as to allow the Federal government to do virtually anything it wants, federal power had completely enveloped any “reserved” powers of states. Instead of directly holding Congress to the powers enumerated in the text, these earliest New Federalism cases attempted indirectly to preserve the underlying “principle” of federalism by carving out islands of state sovereignty in a sea of federal power.

Chief Justice Rehnquist understood this, of course. In 1995, he launched a direct attack on the source of the problem in the case of U.S. v. Lopez, which held unconstitutional the Gun Free School Zone Act because it exceeded the power of Congress to “regulate commerce . . . among the several states.” There he wrote, “We start with first principles. The Constitution creates a Federal Government of enumerated powers.” For the first time in 60 years, the Court found a federal statute to have exceeded the commerce power of Congress. Rehnquist’s opinion in Lopez sent shock waves through the legal academy. …

Together with the Tenth Amendment cases, Rehnquist’s opinions in Lopez and Morrison were the keystones of the New Federalism. Had he been able to marshal a consistent majority for the constitutional “first principles” these cases represented, the Rehnquist Court might have overseen a constitutional restoration as substantial as the constitutional demolition begun by the Roosevelt Court. But both decisions were 5-4, with the five more “conservative” justices in the majority and the four more “liberal” justices in strong dissent. The four adamant dissenters have not relented in their opposition and need only pick off one of the New Federalists to uphold the constitutionality of a claim of federal power.”

Og nu er Barnett nervøs for, at flertallet vil kunne skifte på et mere permanent vis—den forkerte vej:

“[In] this the final year of the Rehnquist Court there are signs that his legacy may not endure. In Gonzales v. Raich both principles of state sovereignty and of enumerated powers were put to the test. Rehnquist was one of only three justices who were willing to say that Congress cannot magically transform the noncommercial possession of homegrown marijuana into “interstate commerce.” The Chief joined the dissenting opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Many who now lionize her w
hen discussing her replacement omit mentioning her stalwart support of the New Federalism so strongly advanced by her fellow Arizonian and Stanford classmate.

Sometime this fall, two of the five votes that made up the Lopez and Morrison majorities will have been replaced. Only Justice Clarence Thomas will be left from the three Raich dissenters. As the new chief justice (assuming he is confirmed), will John Roberts assume the role of his mentor William Rehnquist — for whom he clerked — and lead the Roberts Court to enforce the Constitution’s original plan of limited federal power? Will President Bush now look for a nominee to replace Justice O’Connor who is as committed to the New Federalism as she was? Given that so many of the New Federalism cases were 5-4, if either of the new justices adopts the mantra of “judicial deference” to congressional power, then Chief Justice Rehnquist’s death, along with Justice O’Connor’s retirement, may presage the second death of federalism. A judicial withdrawal from enforcing the original limits on the powers of Congress would undo the New Federalist legacy of William Rehnquist.

As the president now decides who next to nominate, he would uphold the Constitution by selecting a person with a firm and demonstrated commitment to the Rehnquist Court’s New Federalism legacy. Only such a choice would continue the movement to restore the “first principles” of constitutionally limited government that William Rehnquist affirmed so eloquently. One can hardly imagine a sadder end to the tenure of William Rehnquist than that his most prized and important contribution to constitutional law is aborted by a conservative Republican president and a Republican-controlled Senate.”

En anden prominent amerikansk klassisk-liberal, Clint Bolick—grundlæggeren af den indflydelsesrige og nyttige organisation Institute for Justice, der hjælper borger i sager mod statsmagten, når deres ejendomsret o.l. bliver krænket—deler Barnetts ængstelser.  Han gik i sin eulogi til Rehnquist så langt som til at forudse, at Bushs udnævnelser vil komme til at repræsentere et markant ryk til “venstre”:

“To say that an era has ended is a huge understatement.
The passing of “the Chief,” as William Rehnquist affectionately was known by everyone in the U.S. Supreme Court’s circle, coupled with the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, leaves the court without sure leadership for the first time in a generation.
Oddly, depending on President Bush’s choice to replace him, the court could be poised for a lurch to the left, rather than the right turn predicted by left-leaning special-interest groups. …

When Rehnquist joined the court in 1972, it was still in the throes of Warren court liberalism, routinely advancing causes that could not be won in the legislative arena. Though the court as a whole never fully embraced Rehnquist’s conservatism, his influence moved the court toward the center.

For instance, under Rehnquist’s stewardship, the court stopped routinely overruling criminal convictions, but retained the Miranda ruling that protects against abusive police interrogations. It strengthened state autonomy, but never overturned Roe vs. Wade. It struck down most racial preferences, but left the door open to preferences in college admissions.

As chief, Rehnquist was adroit in moderating his own views to bring in colleagues, and often appeared to switch to the winning side in order to exercise the chief’s prerogative to assign writing of key decisions to himself so as to narrow their scope.

One area of Rehnquist’s enormous influence was school choice.
In the 1960s and ’70s, the court had broadly interpreted the First Amendment’s prohibition against establishment of religion to embrace outright hostility to religion.

In 1983, Rehnquist cobbled together a 5-4 majority in Mueller vs. Allen, charting a more moderate course in upholding tuition tax credits for K-12 education, emphasizing that the choice of where to spend the education dollars was decided by parents, not the state.
That same slender majority held 19 years later in Zelman vs. Simmons-Harris, in which the court, in a landmark decision written by Rehnquist, upheld the Cleveland school-voucher program. For Rehnquist, it was a matter of state autonomy and an interpretation of the First Amendment true to its original intent.

For millions of children …, it meant the promise of precious educational opportunities.

Rehnquist’s combination of strong conservative convictions and political savvy make him a tough act to follow. …  For two decades, the court has been narrowly divided, usually (though less frequently lately) siding with individual liberty over state power, precisely the role the framers intended the federal judiciary to play. Judge John Roberts, the nominee to fill Justice O’Connor’s position, is truly an unknown quantity. If Bush nominates a Rehnquist replacement who is less committed to conservative principles than his predecessor, it could have the effect of turning the court to the left.”

Frihedens forfatning?

Det er–som læserne af Punditokraterne vil vide–sjældent, at jeg er uenig med Wall Street Journals lederskribenter; de er som regel mere indsigtsfulde og mere dybsindige end noget lignende fra hjemlige kanter.

Men nogle gange bliver de bare lidt for … forudsigeligt begejstrede for ting, hvor de–når alt kommer til alt–burde vide bedre, ikke mindst når det gælder Republikanerne og Bush-regeringen.

Et aktuelt eksempel er dagens leder om udkastet til forfatning for Irak, som ventes at komme idag, og som lederen priser i høje toner.

"Iraq's first freely elected government continues to vindicate the belief that the Mideast can be transformed, starting with Saddam Hussein's former tyranny. Its draft constitution, which appears headed for parliamentary approval tonight, reflects a remarkable spirit of compromise–and even enlightenment–among the country's political, ethnic and religious factions."

Faktum er, at de udkast til forfatning, som nærværende punditokrat har set på det seneste, er noget juks.  Punktum.

Klagepunkterne er mange, og her er nogle få:

  • Islam som ikke blot officiel religion men som dét væsentligste retslige grundlag for staten.  (Hvortil WSJ svarer "But in what Western democracy are laws not generally in accord with the Judeo-Christian moral heritage?" Ja, men der er vel en vis forskel på, at noget er "i overenstemmelse med" et religiøst grundlag, og at man så ophøjer selve det religiøse til udgangspunkt for, hvad der legalt og illegalt. "In any case, interpretation of that clause will be up to elected representatives."  Og det skulle gøre os mere trygge …?)
  • Kvinders rettigheder bliver specifikt underordnet religiøse tribunaler–men til gengæld får de reserveret et antal pladser i parlamentet.  Så vi har altså undertrykkelse af kvindernes "negative" rettigheder og så samtidigt en introduktion af positive sær-rettigheder.  Det begynder godt.
  • Føderalisme–men uden en slags subsidaritetsprincip.  Hvilket plejer at betyde centralisering.
  • Indtil videre har de udkast, jeg har set, anerkendt "freedom of worship", d.v.s. retten til at dyrke andre religioner, men faktisk ikke fuld "freedom of religion".  Det sidste indebærer nemlig også retten til at konvertere–hvilket Islamister ønsker straffet med døden.

O.s.v., o.s.v.

Langt bedre end WSJ's leder er en nylig artikel på National Review Online af Williamson Evers (Hoover Institution, Stanford) og min gamle ven Tom Palmer (Cato Institute–som har sin egen personlige blog).

Jeg har faktisk selv skrevet en halv-akademisk artikel om emnet for halvandet år siden, "Blood, Baath and Beyond: The Constitutional Dilemma of Iraq" (i tidsskriftet Public Choice), hvori jeg advarede mod stort set alt det, man nu har gjort.  Men måske den ikke er blevet læst så meget i Irak.  Eller måske den er.

Gone native II (or not going native …)

Apropos min med-Punditokrat Mr. Laws post om "Gone Native", så er her et link til noget helt andet … En interessant klumme af Wall Street Journals fremragende politiske redaktør, John Fund, der er stærkt kritisk overfor et forslag om at skabe en slags racemæssigt baseret hjemmestyre for "Native Hawaiians". Jeg har i mange år været fascineret af seriøse studier af polycentriske politiske institutioner og ditto retsinstitutioner (host, host …), samt mulighederne for løsrivelse og andre former for "exit", men J.F. fik mig her overbevist om det problematiske i Hawaii-forslaget.

Ejendomsrettigheder er menneskerettigheder

USAs forbundshøjesteret afsagde for nogle få uger siden en dom, der med rette vil gå ned i amerikansk retshistorie som en af de–fra et frihedsorienteret synspunkt–mere katastrofale.

Det var i den såkaldte Kelo v. New London-sag, hvor nogle lokale myndigheder i delstaten Connecticut lod sig lokke af en stor koncern, som mente, at den ville kunne skabe nye arbejdspladser ved at få lov til at bygge på nogle jordarealer, der lå praktisk. Problemet var bare, at der allerede boede nogle mennesker der, og de havde ikke lyst til at sælge. Delstaten var på koncernens side, også selv om dennes argumenter med henvisning til "almenvellets bedste" var noget spekulative, og sagen endte i US Supreme Court. Det skete med henvisning til 5. forfatningstillæg, der siger, at "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation", og sågar Connecticuts egen forfatning stipulerer, at "The property of no person shall be taken for public use, without just compensation…." Altså: det kan ske, hvis det går til "public use" (="almenvellet"), men der siges intet steds, at man kan tage fra nogle ejere og give til nogle andre, private ejere, som hellere vil have jorden, men altså ikke ønsker at betale (nok) for den.

I US Supreme Court støttede et snævert flertal 5-4 delstaten–med den aktuelle Sandra Day O'Connor (som i økonomiske spørgsmål generelt har været ganske liberal) i mindretallet, sammen med højesteretspræsident William Rehnquist og dommerne Antonin Scalia og Clarence Thomas. O'Connor skrev i sin dissens, at:

"all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded. … [It will] wash out any distinction between private and public use of property–and thereby effectively to delete the words 'for public use' from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment."

Med dommen har amerikanske delstater altså nu reelt frie hænder til at gennemføre "tvangssalg" af privat ejendom mod ejernes ønske, selvom forbundsforfatningen ellers stipulerer, at det kun kan ske, når det er til offentligt brug–og reelt uden at kunne dokumentere at der vil være en samfundsmæssig gevinst derved.

Det er ikke gået stille af–især ikke i disse uger, hvor fokus netop er flyttet på evt. kommende højesteretsdommeres ideologiske orientering. Den altid fortrinlige John Fund fra Wall Street Journal har i dagens avis en klumme om emnet med den passende overskrift "Property Rights are Civil Rights" og en usædvanlig "twist", der kobler ejendomsrettigheder sammen med borgerrettigheder. Her er et uddrag:

"In 1954 the Supreme Court declared in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. But that same year it also ruled in Berman v. Parker that government's power of eminent domain could be used to seize property in order to tear down "blighted" areas.

It soon became clear that too often urban renewal really meant "Negro removal," as cities increasingly razed stable neighborhoods to benefit powerful interests. That helps explain why 50 years later so many minority groups are furious at the Supreme Court's decision last month to build on the Berman precedent and give government a green light to take private property that isn't "blighted" if it can be justified in the name of economic development. …

Many Democrats who used to scoff at conservative fears about activist judges are now joining their barricades when it comes to eminent domain. "In a way this ruling is about civil rights because it interferes with your right to own and keep your property," says Wilhelmina Leigh, a research analyst with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington. "It means you have to hope and trust in the goodness of other human beings that if you buy real estate that you will be allowed to keep it." Few appear to be willing to trust government on this issue, which is why the Kelo decision has touched off such a populist reaction against it.

Martin Luther King III, a former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says that "eminent domain should only be used for true public projects, not to take from one private owner to give to another wealthier private owner." In 2001 he joined with the free-market Institute for Justice (which represented the Kelo plaintiffs) to stop the state of Mississippi from uprooting homeowners to make room for a Nissan truck factory. After he compared the state's actions to "a giant stepping on a grasshopper," public opposition to the taking mounted. The state finally announced that Nissan had come up with a way to redesign its facility so that the homeowners wouldn't have to leave.

… Before the 1954 Berman decision, with some exceptions, private property could be taken through eminent domain only for public uses. In Berman, however, the court declared the words "public use" to mean "public purpose," as defined by local officials. Soon the definition of "blight" became highly elastic, as governments began condemning working- and middle-class neighborhoods simply because they were desired by private interests. As Justice Clarence Thomas noted in his dissent in Kelo: "Of all the families displaced by urban renewal from 1949 through 1963, 63 percent of those whose race was known were nonwhite, and of these families, 56 percent of nonwhites and 38 percent of whites had incomes low enough to qualify for public housing, which, however, was seldom available to them."

The definition of a "blighted" area eventually became so expansive that it 1981 the Michigan Supreme Court allowed the city of Detroit to raze a stable neighborhood called Poletown to make way for a General Motors plant. The Michigan Supreme Court finally repudiated that decision last year, in a ruling that noted that property rights would no longer exist in America if cities could simply take property when they found a use that yielded higher taxes or other benefits.

By contrast, the U.S. Supreme Court has now decided not to overturn its Berman precedent and indeed has expanded the deference it gives to local governments to determine what "public use" means. But states and localities are free to take their own steps to preserve private property rights. Nine states–Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Montana, South Carolina and Washington–already forbid the use of eminent domain for economic development except in narrow circumstances. The Institute for Justice has launched a $3 million "Hands Off My Home" campaign to convince other states to join them. In Georgia, Gov. Sonny Perdue is demanding a full review of eminent domain. The Texas Legislature has already debated a constitutional amendment that would ban the use of eminent domain solely for economic purposes. No one argues that struggling cities or states don't have a right to improve themselves through redevelopment. But the new civil-rights coalition forming in reaction to the Kelo decision says that need can't justify land seizures from which politically connected players stand to gain at the expense of individual civil rights. If the half-century since Brown v. Board of Education has taught us anything, it is that some rights are and must remain nonnegotiable."

En af de centrale dommer i flertallet i Kelo v. New London var højesteretsdommer David H. Souter–som blev udnævnt af præsident George H.W. Bush i formodning om, at han var "konservativ" (hvilket ha
n hurtigt viste sig ikke a
t være). Souter kan nu gå hen og komme til at føle dommens konsekvenser på egen krop–eller rettere: egen ejendom. En forretningsmand, Logan Darrow Clements, har kontaktet de lokale myndigheder i Weare, New Hampshire, og foreslået, at disse overtager adressen 34 Cilley Hill Road–hvor investoren så tilgengæld gerne vil bygge et hotel.

Det er så ganske vist Souters private hjem, men et princip er vel et princip … "The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest as it will bring in economic development and higher tax revenue to Weare," siger Clements. Når det lige skal ligge dér, er det fordi grunden er unik, "being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans."

Hotellet skal iøvrigt hedde "The Lost Liberty Hotel", vil have en "Just Desserts Café", samt et offentligt tilgængeligt museum "featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America." Hotelværelsernes natbordsskuffer vil ikke indeholde den sædvanlige Bibel, men derimod et gratis eksemplar Ayn Rands roman Atlas Shrugged.

Det giver jo en vis inspiration for, hvad man kunne foreslå af danske lokalplaner …

Helt uforsvarlig selvpromovering

Jeg burde egentlig promovere Christopher Arzrounis fortræffelige, nye bog, “Helt uforsvarligt”, men da den er (helt uforsvarligt) anmeldt stort set alle steder (og promoveret her), vil jeg i stedet nøjes med at gøre opmærksom på, at Forlaget Politiske Studier (Københavns Universitet) fornylig har udsendt en lille bog med sammenskrevne akademiske artikler m.v. fra min hånd, “Individ, Stat og Marked: Studier i Rationalitet og Politik”.

Det er sagt med det samme: Den er mindre lettilgængelig, mindre elegant, og meget mindre sjov end Christophers. Men den er min.

EUs forfatning

Som en politolog, der selv har forsøgt sig ud i forfatningsarkitektur (omend kun på amatørplan), havde jeg i sin tid bemærket med glæde, at The Economist faktisk havde skrevet et specifikt forslag, som er ikke så meget bedre end den foreliggende (og forkastede) forfatningstraktat. Siden havde jeg glemt det, men den er værd at genopfriske og sammenligne med det foreliggende.

Hat tip til Waldorf & de små uregerlige fætre over hos www.liberator.dk!

Europa er ikke guddommelig

Jyllands-Posten sagde det rammende i gårsdagens leder: “Jacques Chirac er i krise, og Frankrig er i krise. Det har begge været længe.” Hvorvidt vi også står med en krise i EU, kan diskuteres. Indrømmet: alle – eller næsten – alle siger det. EU i dyb krise. Billeder, close-up, karikaturtegninger, vittigheder, de bekymrede miner i Deadline, hele molevitten.

Men krise?

En sund krise, i så fald.

Europa er ikke guddommelig. Så enkelt kan man beskrive den ? i mine øjne ? vigtigste modstand mod den EU-traktat, som senere i dag risikerer at løbe ind i endnu flere problemer med afstemningen i Holland. Det er den franske filosof Jean Baudrillard, der lufter denne tankegang. I en artikel i dagbladet Liberation minder han om, at folk ikke vil frelses. Som Jyllands-Postens Anders Raahauge (http://www.jp.dk/) opsummerer Baudrillards synspunkt:

“Folk har gang i deres egne, hemmelige tilværelser med egne, skjulte fornøjelser, de ønsker ingen form for velmenende retledning eller mild opdragelse”.

Krise?

Og videre:

“Folk reagerer tillige mod det dydige forbund mellem de gode samvittigheder og deres guddommelige Europa, som prætenderer at være universelt og uimodsigeligt indlysende, siger Baudrillard. Der reageres mod sammenslutningen af alle dem, der er besjælede af universel god vilje, mens de andre sendes tilbage til Historiens skygger. De politisk korrekte kræfter ser ikke, hvor udfordrende de fører sig frem”.

Her er vi ved sagens kerne. Kravet om endnu et ja til en stadig tættere union har allieret sig med Godheden. Og ud er kommet – med filosoffens ord – en “Europa-simulation, en virtuel 3D-model”, som bliver forsøgt projiceret ud i realitetens verden.

Det går bare ikke så godt.

Dette er skrevet ud fra et liberal-borgerligt standpunkt. Jeg har stemt ja, lige siden jeg kunne, hver gang motiveret af ønsket om fred og velstand i Europa. EU har været en tordnende succes. Vesteuropa er blevet genopbygget efter to verdenskrige, Sovjetimperiet er væk (vel at mærke ikke alene EU?s fortjeneste), og der er ikke udsigt til at europæerne skulle begynde på den slags dumheder igen. Samtidig har markedsøkonomi og velstand fået en ny chance og drevet økonomierne fremad. Men i dag er det EU, som forfatningstraktaten afspejler, et svar på gårsdagens problemer.

Lad mig for nemheds skyld begrænse mig til traktatens del 1, der indledes med unionens værdier og mål. Her snakker vi ikke teknik og lovforenkling, men EU?s ideologi, hvis jeg må være så fri. For EU er ikke ren og skær jura, men bygger på værdier. Som der står i artikel I-2:

“Unionen bygger på værdierne respekt for den menneskelige værdighed, frihed, demokrati, ligestilling, retsstaten og respekt for menneskerettighederne, herunder rettigheder for personer, der tilhører mindretal. Dette er medlemsstaternes fælles værdigrundlag i et samfund præget af pluralisme, ikke-forskelsbehandling, tolerance, retfærdighed, solidaritet og ligestilling mellem mænd og kvinder”.

Det er i sig selv temmelig mange værdier. Alligevel er der ikke ét ord om kapitalisme eller velfærd eller vækst eller marked. Til gengæld fremhæves befolkningernes velfærd (artikel I-3). Det er ikke tilfældigt. Når markedet nævnes – efter bl.a. de gratis begreber ligestilling, tolerance og solidaritet – så refereres der til “fri og lige konkurrence” og om en “afbalanceret økonomisk vækst” og en “social markedsøkonomi”. Er det liberal-borgerlige værdier? Det mener jeg ikke. Det er ord opfundet ved et skrivebord. Det er akademiske eufemismer, omskrivninger, newspeak. Dvs. ord man finder på for at lægge afstand til virkeligheden.

I virkeligheden burde liberal-borgerlige mennesker, herunder politikere, tone rent flag til fordel for konkurrence, vækst og markedsøkonomi – uden omsvøb, uden dårlig samvittighed, uden undskyldning. Kapitalismen behøver ingen svedige hænder. Hvis den er fri, er den også lige, dvs. åben for enhver, uanset stand, nationalitet, farve, observans eller religion. Økonomisk vækst behøver heller ingen fodnoter. Uden vækst, ingen velfærd, så simpelt er det faktisk. Vækst udelukker ikke omfordeling; jeg snakker ikke om skattefrihed, men om, at det, der ikke vokser, dør en skønne dag. Det kender vi fra naturen, som vi mennesker og samfund sjovt nok er en del af, og det gælder også de skandinaviske af slagsen.

Selv om Europas socialdemokrater er på nippet til at overtale det meste af kontinentet om, at Europa skal være socialdemokratisk, så behøver det ikke gå sådan. Det er ingen lovmæssighed, at Europa, der har nok af problemer i forvejen, skal nedsynkes i bløde værdier med sociale rettigheder til Gud og hvermand, herunder positiv særbehandling til kvinder (artikel II-83), børn, ældre, gravide, arbejdstagere, fagbevægelse, strejkende, forældre og forbrugere, sundhed og miljø. Europa er ikke et socialt eksperiment. Vi er ikke statister i et socialdemokratisk rollespil. EU-topien behøver ikke blive virkeliggjort. Vi – danskere, irer, tjekker, tyskere, borgerlige, kommunister, socialister mm. – kan godt være sammen uden at være ens. Vi kan godt handle med, besøge og inspireres af hinanden uden at kunne lide hinanden. Det er egentlig det, handel betyder. At omgås andre kommercielt uden påtvunget kærlighed eller fælles værdier, at imødekomme andres behov for dermed at hjælpe sig selv. Det er handlens logik, og det kunne sagtens blive Europas. Et minimalistisk EU, et teknisk lovkompleks til fremme af frihandel og fred, forskellighed og frihed.

Vi skal med andre ord væk fra Godheden, væk fra den frelsende engel ved navn Romano Prodi eller Jacques Chirac eller kandidaterne nu hedder, dem, der hjertens gerne vil være udenrigsminister for hele foretagenet.

Spørgsmålet om, hvad borgerlige bør stemme denne gang – hvis der skal stemmes – kan i grunden afgøres med et hurtigt blik på traktatens præambel, hvor det hedder, at EU “over for verden” skal “videreføre det store forehavende, der gør Europa til et privilegeret område for menneskenes forhåbninger”.

Jeg siger nej tak. Mindre kan gøre det. Meget mindre. Europa er ikke guddommelig.

Frihedens forfatning II

Punditokraterne omtalte fornylig New York Times Magazine's artikel om de klassisk-liberale/frimarkedsorienterede konservative amerikanske jurister, der i en årrække har kæmpet for en tilbagevending til den fortolkning af den amerikanske forfatning, som var fremherskende før New Deal–d.v.s. med relativt snævre rammer for, hvad forbundsstaten kan varetage af opgaver.

Jeffrey Rosens artikel vakte en del opsigt–især i denne tid, hvor der netop er en intens kamp om dommerudnævnelser i senatet, og hvor man står overfor formodentlig en eller to udskiftninger i Højesteret inden årets udgang.

Nu har min bekendt, Dr. Michael S. Greve fra American Enterprise Institute–én af dem der var portrætteret i Rosens artikel–svaret igen på denne med en ny artikel, og det går ikke stille for sig. Greves hovedbudskab er, at ja–den amerikanske forfatning er truet, men det er ikke af liberalistiske eller konservative jurister:

"Everybody, chill. Libertarians are notoriously incapable of planning a lunch. With the lone and arguable exception of Justice Clarence Thomas, all sitting justices have time and again reaffirmed New Deal precedents and shunned opportunities to limit their reach. The Rehnquist Court's federalism "revolution"–the principal target of liberal wrath–consists of margin-nibbling decisions that no ordinary American has heard of, and recent (and, probably, forthcoming) decisions strongly signal an abandonment. At the same time, the supposedly conservative Court has cranked out an amazing array of newfangled rights, especially on sexual mores. In short, I despair of our supposed plans for toppling the New Deal."

For Greve er den amerikanske forfatning derimod truet af jurister, der lader sig inspirere af europæernes måde at tænke i forfatninger på, "La Constitution" …:

"The proposed European Constitution, signed in 2004 and now awaiting ratification by member states of the European Union, spans 448 articles, including social-democratic rights to warm progressive hearts–"respect for his or her physical and mental integrity," "access to preventive health care," and "continuing education." Voters in the various EU countries may get to vote on the monstrosity, or they may not, for fear that they might reject it.

Consistent with past European practice, such as adoption of the Maastricht Treaty to cement the European Union, those who do get to vote will probably be obliged to do so until they approve. A no vote, French President Jacques Chirac has threatened, means the end of Europe.

What a yes vote means isn't exactly clear. Despite its stupendous length, the constitution leaves crucial questions–including taxing and military authorities–for a later day. A constitution, European officials say, is a "process." No backsliding from the accumulated mistakes, ever-forward movement toward ever-closer union. We will tell you later what it means and where it will end.This breed of constitutionalism differs from that of the American Founders, who confronted elected state conventions with an up-or-down choice on a Constitution of clearly defined powers and restrictions."

Man kan sige meget om amerikanske jurister–og jeg er gift med én, der nærmest er en af slagsen, så jeg er lidt (positivt) forudindtaget (og Greve selv er iøvrigt tysk)–men i lyset af den on/off småt derudaf tøffende hjemlige debat om en evt. grundlovsændring, hvor det synes som om, at det nyeste årtusindes væsentligste konstitutionelle spørgsmål er relateret til kønnet på HKH Kronprinsessens kommende barn, så må man sige, at den amerikanske forfatningsdebat finder sted på et noget højere plan. Hvem er klar til at gå i brechen for at give en evt. kommende dansk grundlovsdebat et niveau og et indhold, der er mere visionært og dybsindigt end, hvad … ahem … Niels Helveg Petersen og Aage Frandsen hidtil har kunnet levere?