The Spectacle Blog

Constitutionalism and Constitutional Amendments

By on 9.27.11 | 3:53PM

Like Joe, I appreciated Ramesh Ponnuru's article on constitutionalism. He writes of the constitutional amendments Rick Perry has supported, "[T]he principal argument for all of them is precisely that they would undo the damage to the constitutional order that departures from constitutionalism have done." Ponnuru argues that Perry "wants to amend the Constitution in order to restore it to its proper meaning."

There is, however, one real sense in which conservative constitutional amendments cut against this objective. They create the appearance, even if this is not what supporters intend, that there is something wrong with the Constitution necessitating a change rather than something wrong with the judges Congress has other constitutional means of controlling.

It's not Rick Perry's fault that strong political norms against impeachment and jurisdiction-stripping have made constitutional amendments seem like the only way of resisting judicial assaults on the Constitution. But the constitutional amendment strategy embraced by the broader conservative movement is one that has contributed to misunderstandings of constitutionalism. It is also a strategy that has seldom succeeded.

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