Update: (A few comments have raised the question as to what is the proper plural of ignoramus. It’s correct in the original, below.)
Those fine and upstanding folks who voice misguided arguments about the U.S. Constitution are not happy with yours truly these days.
I called them some unkind names in a post last week, which I shouldn’t have done because it’s cheap and it tends to obscure the larger issue. So I formally retract my application of the terms “dopes,” “ignoramuses” and “intellectual boobs” to Tenthers. Sorry guys. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.
On the other hand, it seems really clear that they are misreading the U.S. Constitution. I don’t take that back one bit. Some of the most rational legal minds in the history of our country side with me in that opinion. Such as the U.S. Supreme Court, repeatedly. Even Justice Scalia is more or less on my side on this one. When Scalia and I are the same page, you can be assured heaven’s angels are singing.
My central thesis is that the First Amendment, which bans Congress from doing a whole bunch of things, effectively undermines the whole Tenther argument (based on the 10th Amendment) that the federal government’s power is strictly limited to those powers explicitly granted by the Constitution.
If the Tenthers’ interpretation was correct, there would be absolutely no need for the First Amendment, and some other parts of the Bill of Rights, because they prescribe limits on federal power. If the drafters thought those limits already existed under the Constitution, they would have ditched the B o R. And they actually debated this very point, listened to arguments that are akin to mine, and then after lengthy consideration added the B 0 R to the constitution.
The fact the authors of the constitution DID see a need for the Bill of Rights strongly implies the limits didn’t exist before the B o R was added. And that shoots down the Tenthers’ chief argument. The only problem for them is, the drafters didn’t agree with them, the Supreme Court doesn’t agree with them, and most politicians (Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is one exception) don’t agree with them either.
Sorry to say it Tenthers, but the truth is most people begin rolling their eyes when you guys open your mouths.
Sunday, even one of the Tenthers said I had a point. Josh Eboch from the Tenth Amendment Center:
But, more importantly, many of the founders themselves argued against the Bill of Rights for the same reason as Casey: It should not be necessary.
Alexander Hamilton said
…bills of rights… are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. …For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?
If there is any argument to be made against the Tenth Amendment, it is Hamilton, not Casey, who has made it.
“Many of the founders” is relative in this context, of course. Hamilton was on the LOSING side of the debate. Thus I am right.
And if Hamilton’s argument had won the day, there would be no Tenth Amendment — and no Tenth Amendment Center either, or “research analysts” with it.
Also, now, another “research analyst” from the Tenth Amendment Center is inviting me to debate them in a some kinds of moderated video-on-the-internet forum. Read the letter below from Derek Sheriff.
I’m not going to debate Sheriff. I have better uses for my time. But he and other Tenthers are free to post comments on this blog justifying their interpretation of the Tenth Amendment, and their argument about how the finest legal minds in the land have gotten it so backwards for many years.
The e-mailed invitation
After reading your blog post, “The Whole Tenth Amendment Business is Dumb and Crazy,” I’m inquiring to see if you would be willing to publicly debate one of these “intellectual boobs” on the internet.
I’d be more than happy to arrange an internet debate (a recorded conference call, live streaming audio on the internet or even a text based email debate).
If you are open to such a debate, whatever medium we decide to use, we would like to make it available for you or anyone else to share and post on the internet, as long as the original audio file or transcript of the debate remains unedited. An email, text based debate (which could take place over several days), is an option we can certainly discuss.
Let me assure you, that whether you choose to accept the challenge of a recorded conference call, live internet radio debate, or the alternative of an email debate, you can be confident of the following:
1. You would debate a person representing the Tenth Amendment Center and the debate would be moderated by an unbiased person. Both your debate opponent and the moderator would be agreed upon by both parties in advance.
2. The moderator would ensure that the debate remains focused, but would only interject or intervene if the debate becomes seriously uncivil or drifts into areas that are completely off topic. The moderator would be instructed to keep any intervention to an absolute minimum.
3. Both participants would, without exception, be given equal time or space, to share their viewpoints and to rebut or refute their opponent. The debate itself will last for no more than 30 minutes if the audio option is agreed upon.
4. You will be given the opportunity to make the first opening statement, (up to 5 minutes), followed by a statement from your opponent. Equal time for your opponent, of course.
5. You will then be given up to 3 minutes to rebut or refute your opponent’s opening statement, or make another assertion and / or ask your opponent a question. Your opponent will have no more than 3 minutes to respond.
6. The debate will end with closing statements from each participant. You will have up to 3 minutes to give your closing comments and your opponent will be given the same amount of time to give his.
If you are open to the idea of a debate and are agreeable to the terms outlined above, please contact me by calling or emailing and we can work out the details of the agreement. Thank you!
Derek Sheriff | Research Analyst
Tenth Amendment Center
Concordia res Parvae Crescunt