Epstein Responds to Seidman Op-Ed on Constitutional Disobedience
By common consent, our constitutional system of government is broken in some deep way that resists any short-term fixes. Anyone who has witnessed the fiscal cliff saga must fear that the brinksmanship so evident between the Republicans and Democrats is rapidly becoming par for the political course. Now that the negotiations have been completed and the debt limit battle looms nigh, it is clear that our nation’s political problems have gone from bad to worse.
Our modern constitutional system seems to be weighed down by non-stop political crises, from entitlement reform to labor relations. With each new crisis comes a short-term fix. Over time, these fixes will only exacerbate the nation’s long-term problem of living beyond its means—for now, short-term interest rates remain low enough to fund the nation’s tidal wave of debt.
What, if anything, should be done about our political crises? On this question, a recent New York Times op-ed by Georgetown Law Center professor Louis Michael Seidman gives precisely the wrong answer. In his piece, “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution,” Seidman attributes the current “fiscal chaos” to an antiquated Constitution to which we should owe scant respect. In this vein, he dismisses the founding fathers as “a grou