Legal Times reports that some liberals are encouraging their friends on the Left to rethink their approach to the Constitution. The Constitutional Accountability Center, launched earlier this month, plans to promote the idea that progressives should base their arguments about constitutional questions on the language and history of the Constitution.
That sounds exactly like what conservatives have been suggesting for decades. Yet the group’s supporters bill the effort more as a challenge to conservative hegemony over constitutional issues. “The Constitution,” says the group’s founder Douglas Kendall “is, in its most vital respects, a progressive document.” According to the Times, the group plans to file amicus briefs making Constitution-based arguments on behalf of progressive ends.
The Times quotes Yale’s Akhil Amar: “We should embrace the Constitution rather than conceding it … It is not the unique inheritance of conservatives.” Lisa Brown, executive director of the American Constitution Society, tells the Times that Kendall “is taking on conservatives on their own terms. … It’s absolutely time to reclaim this debate.”
Isn’t it funny how conceding a point can sound so much like taunting. You can almost hear liberals chortling: “How do you like them apples, conservatives!” Well, we like them fine, and wish the group luck in its efforts to convince other liberals that they have been mistaken all this time in not embracing the text of the Constitution.
The Times article does raise one question though: “Kendall sees the center making constitutional arguments on a range of other issues, from the citizenship of children of illegal immigrants, to tort reform and federal pre-emption, to civil rights issues based on the 14th Amendment’s privileges and immunities clause.” Why isn’t rolling back the Court’s expansive view of the Commerce Clause on this list?