Introducing the Constitution: A Conversation with Michael Paulsen

with Michael Stokes Paulsen

This next edition of Liberty Law Talk is a discussion with Michael S. Paulsen, co-author with his son, Luke Paulsen, of their new book entitled The Constitution: An Introduction. The Paulsens’ book is a thoughtful and probing overview of the foundations and evolution of American constitutionalism.

Our discussion focuses on key ideas in the book: What does it mean to be a country that is defined by a written constitution? Is the Founders’s Constitution a pro-slavery document? Has the use of substantive due process in Lochner, Griswold, and Roe corrupted our understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment? Of what worth is the Youngstown decision that importantly limits executive power in the age of a rampant regulatory state? By returning power to the elected branches does the New Deal Court really restore the Constitution to its republican principles?

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on August 17, 2015 at 21:28:36 pm

VIdeo: Ben Carson: ‘Stop Listening to These People Who Tell Us That We Cannot Talk About God’


read full comment
Image of Steve
on September 06, 2015 at 16:56:54 pm

I celebrate a father-son project and think it stands as its own reward.

However, the representation of the consequences of success with the declaration of independence from England, by about 40% of the British subjects who were inhabitants of the eastern seaboard of the colonies, as pro-slavery and a candidate for redemption, is wrong and must reach further back in history. Putting it another way, some British subjects in the colonies were excited against fellow subjects in the homeland and decided to wage a war against personal mistreatment. Patriots acted without a plan regarding slavery, because they had neither created slavery nor imposed it on themselves. Many of them were abolitionists.

Taking a broader view, Africans who captured Africans to sell them as slaves need to become contrite, beg forgiveness, and seek redemption. Popes who issued the papal bulls of the late 15th century, authorizing invasion and appropriation of lands not theretofore claimed by a Christian prince and then granting monopolies on African slave trade are culpable. Protestant Kings who mimicked the papal doctrine of discovery are guilty.

In 1783, June 8, George Washington said to Americans: You have your independence now you must establish domestic justice and global recognition. A few months later, the 1783 Treaty of Paris does not recognize the Continental Congress as an authority and grants independence to the thirteen states, naming them.

The delegates to Philadelphia four years later were in a dilemma not of their own making. Eight of the thirteen states were slave states and by 1774 precedent; by continental precedent, nine states would ratify whatever they might accomplish. They had to face economic viability with big war debts.

Would anyone today wish they had split eight to five and created two countries?

Is Paulsen aware of black liberation theology--that James H. Cone concept that came into play in 1969? It posits that African slavery in America is evidence that the Christian god is black and the only way for white Christians to find redemption is to lift black Americans to supremacy. It's a Marxist idea that would inspire blacks to sacrifice their opportunity for no-harm personal liberty and domestic goodwill (PL&DG) in order to advance the economic cause of black American supremacy.

Paulsen states that the SCOTUS is in a bind when it errs and sometimes continues on that path out on a limb. Paulsen closes with the hope that the "waves" back and forth justify hope for reform in the long run.

Books that take a position in time and then speculate with religious connotations like "redemption" do not help. The world of scholars asking each other how many books they've written needs reform. A civic people needs scholars to admit to themselves that a people, who care not about narrow minded opinion, need leadership toward PL&DG. Scholars need to focus on serving a civic people.

Let me put it my way--the way senior-ChE ethics taught me at the University of Tennessee. When a chemical engineer is asked to design a reactor, she is expected to submit a specification with accurate and precise physics that guarantee that the reactor will not blow up. Existing reactors Phil Beaver designed will not blow up in possible variations on the intended use. Likewise, when a constitutional scholar writes a book she ought to know it will help a people establish PL&DG.

read full comment
Image of Phil Beaver
Phil Beaver
on September 14, 2015 at 06:06:02 am

[…] Introducing the Constitution: A Conversation with Michael Paulsen […]

read full comment
Image of An Eternal Introduction - Freedom's Floodgates
An Eternal Introduction - Freedom's Floodgates

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.