1 Episode results for "Professor Amar"

'The Words That Made Us': Scholar Akhil Reed Amar On How To Better Understand The Constitution

On Point with Tom Ashbrook | Podcasts

48:58 min | 4 months ago

'The Words That Made Us': Scholar Akhil Reed Amar On How To Better Understand The Constitution

"This is on point. I'm magneto body. The election is over. That is the rule of law that is our constitutional process. Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the constitution. That's republican representative. Liz cheney right before. She was purged from her house. Gop leadership position for her defiance of donald trump's big lies about the election. Well kill read. Amar is one of the nation's most celebrated and respected constitutional law scholars. And he joins us now professor amar when you heard liz cheney saying those words that members of her party are at war with the constitution. What did you think thanks for having me. And it's so amazing. You ask that question because i was at an eight by american enterprise institute event. It's post to be secret but word immediately leaked out of this event and liz. Cheney and i'm paul ryan at the noon discussion went into all of this. And that's when liz changed. You tweeted about this the day before so she started telling you know all the the donors in the room and other leading politicians that that this big lie was poisonous and in order to save the soul of the republican party they had to make a pivot and and there were gasps in the room and again not talking to school because all of this became public within hours of of the events. It's so amazing in its additionally amazing because i immediately flashed back to a book that Her mother wrote lynne. Cheney is a historian about james madison. And i talk about lynne. Cheney and james madison in my new book. Here's the big point hours two party system. The two parties were not originally contemplated when the framers adopted the constitution but very soon thereafter they emerged. And when you have a party system there's going to be often a huge tension between party loyalty and fidelity to conscience or the constitution or Just the truth or the courts and that's not unique to today's republican party. I could talk about if you are a conscientious democrat. I happen to be a democrat. But let's imagine that you're very strongly pro choice. Just as a matter of conscience and you think roe versus wade for example Was wrongly decided in the supreme court just Decided to hear another case about abortion. Well life is going to be difficult for you in the democratic party just as life is difficult for this change in the republican party when she went with conscience and her mother wrote a book about james madison. And it's a good biography. But i criticize Cheney's biography and some others because they don't tell the story as i do in my book about how thomas jefferson and james madison formed a political party and after they formed the political party that deformed Some of their views they they originally began as anti-slavery people but because the party they formed and basically had to southern base by the end of their lives became basically pro slavery in order to get in line with their party. Well so let me just jump in here and let folks know that professor maher is as i mentioned earlier. One of the nation's most respected constitutional law scholar. He's scholars he's the sterling professor of law and political science at yale university has actually had many members of congress as students in his classes over the years author of a number of books about the constitution. The most recent of which and why. We're gathered here. Today is called the words that made us america's constitutional conversation from seventeen sixty two eighteen forty. And there's a lot specifically in the book professor amar that I want to dig into in a little bit. But i think we're in such a pressing moment of us. History that i wanted stick with what's happening now for a little while longer if i could because so first of all just clearly do answer if you could. Do you think members of the republican party as cheney said are at war with the united states constitution. I personally think they're at war with the truth And that's an even bigger thing to be at war with and And yes. I also think that the constitution because here the two most fundamental elements of the american constitution Or maybe three. The constitution has to endure. It has to go on in order for that to happen. There have to be fair. Elections whose results are abided by by all concerned even the losers and open robust. Free speech so I told you just a while ago. About how jefferson and madison formed a political party. That that deformed their conduct they originally began as anti-slavery folks and they and they became increasingly pro slavery. Because that's where the party base was. Why did they form their political party in part because john adams and his supporters who themselves were a kind of a party made it a crime to criticise John adams so you can't have a world where one party tries to criminalize the other party. Which john adams did which donald trump threatened to do even before he was elected with a chance of lock. Her up you you. You have to have free speech. You have to have fair elections and the two go together. Because you can't have fair elections without free speech and then you have to have people accepting the legitimacy of the verdict in at the end of the day. John adams did leave office. Although he didn't show up for the inauguration and their echoes actually in eighteen hundred eighteen o one of what happened in in the most recent election the storytelling the book is actually the transition in eighteen hundred eighteen. O one from one political party to another wasn't quite as tame and peaceful as people. Remember as being it actually. The system came closer to melting down than than most people understand today but you have to have fair elections and people have to abide by the results of those elections. And when they don't it's called a civil war well yes which we had in eighteen sixty one and people are wondering if we're on the brink of that some kind of version of that now and so the so interesting that you mentioned John adams. Because i would i would also look more broadly and i know you. Obviously you do that to me look. I'm a huge fan of the constitution. When i fifth grade when i grew up fifth grade was the year i was by. I was by virtue of my birth. I was a citizen of the day was born in this in this country but in fifth grade whereas learned about the constitution it was the day i became sort of an impassioned american because of what it stands for and part of the reason for that is that baked into the constitution. Is this enlightenment. Era notion right that people of goodwill who believe in ideas that founded a nation Who believe in the institutions of government can create a good nation. And it's so funny because to me. The the founding fathers themselves knew the power of what can happen when people reject those very institutions of government. You can look at the revolution right as a demonstration of that. The rejection of the institution of monarchical power over the colonies. So i wonder where in the constitution is there. Anything in the constitution that says it can withstand the attack that comes with the rejection of institutional legitimacy can it withstand institutional collapse. I think he can. But before i give you the reasons i have to tell you as you were saying that. I'm thinking amen sister and what you are saying with literally hair started a standing up on the back of my neck because the story you just related is exactly mine. My parents were born in india under the british raj but i was lucky enough under british rule to be the first generation of my family born in the united states the day of my birth. I'm a us citizen. I didn't deserve it. It was just this gift given to me. And when i was literally in fifth and sixth grades just like you. I discovered the competition because my parents i grew up in california took me i to philadelphia when i was in fifth grade and i went to independence hall and then sixth grade. We went to washington dc. I saw the national archives in the declaration of independence and the constitution and the bill of rights and we went to the white house and mount vernon and we had lunch with my our our local congressmen. My dad's a doctor and he was one of my dad's patients. So and that's when i said oh my god now i understand how different my life is from my cousins. Many of them were not lucky enough to be born in the united states. So that's the great gift that the constitution gave you and me birthright citizenship. And then you ask well. Can it survive. It can't guarantee anything because it's just a piece of paper that's ultimately up to us and the the last word in the title of my book is the words that made us and it's also a pun. It's the words that made the us. It's what the constitution is what we have in common. Which is why it's so important that we all choose to abide by it. Because if we don't it's called beirut it's called gaza and and and and palestine and it's sieve. It's called civil war. It's a war of all against all in which life is solitary poor nasty brutish and short to to quote thomas hobbes unless there are rules that binds us all that we agree to live by. Those rules are the constitution. That's why i wrote this book because it's a book whether you're liberal or conservative coastal or heartland person v. We have to all agree to abide by these rules. And we have to choose that. I mean we can reject it and and now the alternative would be a pretty ugly and i think for all its flaws and is an imperfect document. It's it's a document worthy of our allegiance. It was better when when when framed than anything else in the world at the time it was deeply flawed it has improved over time with amendments that have ended slavery and promised equality and given women equal voting and in my lifetime got rid of poll tax disenfranchisement and and other exclusions and that process is still ongoing but the paper can't guarantee its own success but i think it can enable is own success if we choose as we would be wise to to follow it and live by it and at the same time again per the the the title of your book the words that made us you're also saying that the constitution is the thing that binds all americans together and that's not something worth letting go of so professor akil rita mar stand by for just a moment. We have a lot more to talk about when we come back. This is on point support for this. Podcast comes from invent together. According to studies less than thirteen percent of all inventors who hold a us patent are women black and hispanic college graduates patent at half the rate of their white counterparts. But we can fix that by increasing participation in innovation and patenting by underrepresented groups. It would quadruple. The number of american inventors and increase annual gdp by almost one trillion dollars. Invent together is a coalition of organizations companies. Universities and concerned citizens committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to invent and patent because the more diverse the american patents system gets the stronger and more successful. our nation will become. What can you do to help. Diverse inventors patent and unleash economic opportunity. Find out at invent together dot org learn more and take action today. Hi i'm emilio. I'm a program manager at google right now. Lots of people are looking for ways to learn new job skills. That's why we created. Google career certificates in online training program for fast growing fields like it support project management data analytics user experience design. And more. you don't need any prior experience and you can be job ready in about six months so put your skills to work. Go to grow dot google slash certificates. This is on point a meghna chakrabarti. Today we're talking with kiel read amar. He's a celebrated constitutional law scholar at yale university author of many books on the constitution. His latest is the words that made us america's constitutional conversation from seventeen sixty two eighteen forty. And if you're wondering why he stops eighteen fortieth because professor mayer presume. More books are coming about the the remainder of america's constitutional history. But but let me ask you first of all. Why is it that you call it a constitutional conversation. The nation's constitutional conversation because as i began to study the back story of the constitution the declaration of independence and before that the imperial debate between columnists and britain it became increasingly clear to me that basically americans talk themselves into becoming a people when they start my book in seventeen. Sixty america doesn't quite exist. Does any sort of formal idea or institutional reality or lived identity. People are a- -chusetts people are or even within that they might come themselves bostonians but they're massachusetts men Or their virginians or their new hampshire men. They're thirteen separate colonies. They've been founded at very different times for very different purposes. There in some ways as different as let's say in nineteen thirty india and kenya and new zealand are all part of the british empire. But there's not some strong sense of identity between people in india and kenya and news new zealand. That's that's the new world in seventeen sixty and over the course of fifteen years americans talk themselves into becoming a people into becoming americans. This book begins the strip. How new worlders become americans and they do it in a conversation with newspapers as central to that conversation all the leading founders are actually newspaper people. I'm ben franklin is a publisher if he were alive. Today's named be rupert. Murdoch has chesa chain of newspapers. He's a newspaper magnet. He's many things he's a great scientist. He's a philanthropist. But he makes his fortune as a newspaper man. That part i don't disagree with but in terms of say. The effect of fox news is having on our democracy. Perhaps the ghost of ben. Benjamin franklin might take issue since you mentioned fox news that would be thomas jefferson who creates a partisan network of newspapers in order to combat john adams so all these guys have deep connections to the to the newspaper industry. They're newspaper scribblers or newspaper owners. Or in the case of the indispensable person george washington. He reads more newspapers than anyone else in america probably in the world. America has more newspapers per capital per capita than anywhere in the world including britain. And it's because of newspapers and pamphlets and letters because of a conversation back and forth across colonies initially between new world and and the old world and london is that back and forth conversation that argument every week in newspapers and letters is what gives birth to the american revolution the declaration of independence state constitutions and ultimately the us constitution and so how regarding the process of the ratification of the constitution itself. You call seventeen eighty eight of a pivotal year not just in the history of this continent but for humanity more broadly. And why is that yes. It's the hinge of human history. It's the year that changed everything. And here's why because for did the so many things we take for granted like democracy self-government well before the american revolution. Almost no one ever in the history of the world was part of the self-governing society most of the people in the planet for most years and most places where basically governed by force or at best custom they were governed by kings emperor zara sultanas mogul lords tribal chiefs mainly thugs who had a military power. Who had bigger clubs later guns and or maybe a priest who just claimed to to rule because they claimed a pipeline to god so princes and priests ruled the world almost everywhere. Almost all this. Yes there were a few tiny. Greek city states that five hundred years before christ managed to have democracy on a very small scale. Athens most famously. Under the cleon eight gender the constitution but they collapsed and yes rome before it became an empire was a republic actually for a couple of hundred years but it collapsed and when the constant when the american revolution breaks out the only people in the world who even come close to govern themselves of the brits who have a king that no one voted for the house of lords voted for and the biggest apertures shirts and the swiss who are a bunch of sheep herders. And they're probably more sheep than people in so it's not a very big society and then in seventeen seventy six. There's a revolution but the declaration of independence isn't put to a vote and none of the state. Constitutions that emerge in seventeen seventy six put to a vote and the articles confederation which is the first version of usa one point though like the the the modern e you today european union. Nato isn't put to a vote by seventeen. Eighty eight the hinge of human history. We the people of the united states up and down a continent put this proposal to a vote and no one had ever done that. Before in world history not the greeks the romans not the brits not the swiss no one had ever done that and the world would never be the same because the world that you went i inhabit today is a world in which democracy reigns over half the planet. When when i'm when my parents are born there's no democracy in india it's an imperfect democracy there but there is one today in a way that there wasn't when my parents were born and they're still alive and and all of eastern europe has self government in a way that it didn't before and central europe western europe at the time of the constitution francis. An absolute is tyranny and now it's an unimpressive public and i claim that is because of the hinge of human history. The year seventeen eighty eight where to borrow phrase we. The people of the united states did in actual fact ordain and establish a constitution by putting it to a vote and allowing there to be a massive conversation pro and con oppose this proposal. And you weren't gonna be basically exiled or banish you were you. Were going to be listened to and some of your big ideas would become the bill of rights and some of your big leaders would eventually become presence and vice presidents injustices so so much this so much to talk mark people talking to each other listening to each other. Well so i wonder though first of all i just i just have to know that you mentioned the roman republic not not not exactly the same thing as obviously not exactly the same thing as what you're talking about regarding the constitution but the roman republic lasted the period of the republic lasted what four and a half centuries. We're not even close to that yet and already. There are concerns. Will they're already. We've had a civil war in this country. And there are now contemporary concerns about attacks on the constitution so let it be explicitly stated that even though the us constitution as you call it might be the hinge of human history. There's nothing that guarantees that we're not. This country doesn't even have as much experience as the romans didn't try to keep that republic. There is no guarantee as we talked about before. But let me say one thing about america compared to row. Which is that i when it was a republic before became an empire. It wasn't that socio-economically diverse that were basically people in one small city state. Who who who. Who ruled rome itself so it didn't have. When when basically conquers the world it becomes an empire but even rome for his glory and americans are emulating the romans. That's why we call it. The senate if you go to washington dc and you see a lot of classical architecture. The the the age limits twenty five thirty thirty five are actually loosely. Modelled on a roman thing called a course of honor so of course. They're thinking very much about the even the very word republic race publica is latin for the people's thing. But here's one thing that america does that. Romans never do. Americans beginning in seventeen seventy five for the first time in the world start to seriously talk about ending slavery not just freeing slaves. The ancient slave had has existed for most of the world in most places. That's not unique to america doesn't begin in sixteen nineteen most places for most of human history had forms of unfreedom and there were ideas about freeing individual slaves. If you're inclined to the serious thing. Ben her which is about charlton heston being enslaved and becoming free. Or if you're inclined to comedy think a funny thing happened on the way to the forum with zero mastel this conniving slave trying to to engineer his own freedom so there is the idea of emancipation manned mission individual slaves being freed. It's you can see it. In the oldman new testament but only americans in seventeen seventy five originate this amazing revolution idea of ending slavery. That's an idea at that for the first time society. Two endsleigh reforms in philadelphia in seventeen seventy five and its eventual presence will be ben franklin who signs the declaration of independence the next year. And benjamin rush who signs the declaration of independence and by seventeen eighty pennsylvania will have adopted a constitution that phases slavery out altogether not just freeing slaves but ending slavery and and you're from boston and the massachusetts constitution of seventeen eighty says all people are born free and equal and by seventeen eighty three. The massachusetts supreme judicial court says that means that slavery has to end in math is hereby ended in massachusetts and new hampshire. Does the same thing. And that's gonna be followed by connecticut and rhode island and eventually new jersey and new york so so. That's something that the romans never did that. The americans began and begin early on. Okay but point taken about the state level abolishment of slavery in this country. But you know when you say. Seventeen seventy five. It was ninety more years until the sin of slavery was abolished from the nation. At the end it had to come through a civil war. And so i wonder though the very example that you give professor amar does it not show how we learn about the constitution as this great documents that in that that shows how a nation can come together through compromise but it it in as the governing law of the land is also eight compromised document because of its initial allowances for slavery for the disenfranchisement of women. If we want to expand who the we are in in we the people. I mean what you're saying is that this actually could have been avoided but it wasn't. They chose they chose the continuation of the enslavement of human beings over greater moral. 'cause that you said was was being undertaken beginning to be undertaken in seventeen seventy five. Well put so. Let's talk about the two issues you identify which are two of the three biggest areas of exclusion that discussing great length and the buck and wine is women. We'll talk about that in just a minute. But let's talk about slavery i I claim that for all the impressive things that the founders did. They really made one enormous mistake. Which is going to eventually lead to a civil war and on the almost The destruction of everything that they that they succeeded in doing. And that's they failed to put slavery on a path of ultimate extinction and my claim they could have had a different compromise. It would have been a compromise but would have been a better compromise. The constitution at its best borrows from state constitutions that emerged as early as seventeen seventy six. So it's not coming from the mind of james madison's coming from the american experience and the best and on issue after issue. The constitution copies the best state practice written constitutions. That's eleven states. Half bicameral legislatures all the states except pennsylvania and georgia three branches of government Judicial review regular elections a census which pennsylvania has a new york has but the other stones on issue after issue. The constitution actually follows the best state practice. And this was smart. They're listening to the american people. They forget to adopt a bill of rights and immediately in the ratification period. Folks say hey dude you forgot the rights which we have the state bills of rights. And they fix that mistake. The best state constitutions like the pennsylvania. One that i mentioned put slavery on a path of ultimate extinction. It was a compromise. They didn't get rid of it immediately. But they basically said we will phase it out and in my view the framers should have done is an effect instead of giving an extra credit to slave states forever for every slave that you have you get credit in the house of representatives and the electoral college not full credit but still three fifths credit which means that for every slave the kidnapped from africa bring across the atlantic and a hellish middle passage with bull whips and chains for every person that you you do that to you actually get more vote in the house of representatives and the electoral college and that was horrible and there was an alternative. The alternative would have been okay. We got to keep the south on board. It's important for various reasons nor to beat the british. We have to have an alliance but we should phase it out three fifths now but next decade two-fifths eventually zero this. We should phase it out and they failed to do that. Can tell me why because i mean what in that conversation that you were talking about lead to the failure of ideas like that because if you ask me today who understands pharmaceutical prices. Best patent policy whether it's on aids medication or acne medication or covert medication. Big farmers going to understand drug prices. Best and big oil is going to understand a big carbons gonna understand oil prices best. So the the southern the deep southerners at philadelphia. Actually this is what they're living is based on and they were more clever actually and more emphatic and dog and the north thought that when many anti-slavery people with in the international slave trade is phased out which was allowed there. There there was sort of a phase out by eighteen o eight the constitution says the international slave trade can be phased out. You'll stop importing slaves from africa and a lot of northerners thought When we stopped the importation of slaves from africa. Slavery will actually die out. They didn't foresee quite the cotton. Gin which is gonna make slavery massively profitable in the deep south and they didn't foresee that actually you don't need to have slave importation for slavery to keep existing because slaves a reproducing at a very high rate in america so they didn't understand slavery as well as the deep south did and it's basically south carolina and georgia who are the big culprits in my story on this the virginians are people who have slaves but they think slavery is wrong. The leading. virginia's jefferson madison washington. So that's why they blew. It just have to take a quick break. We'll talk a lot more when we come back. This is on point this point. I'm meghna chakrabarti today. We're talking with acute read amar. He's sterling professor of law and political science at yale university. One of this nation's most celebrated constitutional law scholars. He's written many books about the united states constitution and his newest one is called the words. That made us america's constitutional conversation from seventeen sixty eighteen forty and professor marmon you go into into exquisite detail about all the major issues in the early creation and conversation around the constitution slavery women's enfranchisement etc. We don't unfortunately we don't have time to go into to adequate detail on any particular any one of those. But i today in the course of this conversation but what i wanted to do is use your scholarship. As a springboard to explore what the constitution or how it serves modern america how it serves. What the united states is in two thousand twenty one. So let me just let me put it this way if you were to write a new supreme governing document for the land now for the us. Today is the constitution. What you would right. So i wouldn't want to write it for america. Top down. I would need or new americans to buy into it. That's the most important thing that i would try. And and i mentioned before that ancient societies like athens were democratic but precisely they they talked. They gave the power to write the constitution to one man. They called him the law giver. So alon and he handed the law down from on high. I wouldn't want to do that I don't think one person no matter who that person is is going to be smarter than all of us together wisdom of crowds. So if you asked me and today you know we've already in. We've been conditioned by the constitution shapes how we think and and and you can't you can't ignore that just like you can't ignore where the mississippi river is the rocky mountains are so i think what would modify your hypothetical just a little bit to say what amendments given that we already have the status quo in i. We're not just floating in somewhere in someone's imagination given the already have as what things would. I love to persuade my fellow citizens. We might want to modify. I would say the biggest thing that. I don't love that the biggest thing so i think actually direct election the president would be good thing and it's how we but here's why think so is how we pick every governor one person one vote. I looked to. Actually what americans actually do. I want era. Why do i want to 'cause state. Constitutions have era. It's so. i would want someone who was not lucky enough like you and me to be born in the united states to be if they come here legally and they play by the rules to be eligible to be present in thirty five years. And we allow them to be governors. Arnold schwarzenegger jennifer granholm so. I often looked state experiences. Which are american democracy in action to try to think about how the federal might be better so let me let me jump in here though. Because i'm really glad you pointed that out because it's a in fact. It shows the list that you just shared with us shows the paucity of those same social and economic rights in the constitution itself. Right i mean. I looking globally. For example i think the the us constitution is almost a standout in what it does not guarantee right. There is no era. there's no Rights gender equality rights in in the united states constitution. I think of all written constitutions worldwide. There are only a couple of dozen that don't guarantee that now And the united states is one of them and part of the reason. Why and please correct me. If i'm wrong. Is that even though yes. We do have these amendments process of amending the constitution. It's actually quite hard to do. So in fact would you. Would you argue that. It's too hard to make modernizing changes to the constitution. I used to think that neck changed my mind so and the one other one here are the four that they didn't mention the biggest one. But i i'd like the federal constitutional look more like the state. So era eligibility of naturalized citizens to be chief executive. Just like you can be governor in michigan or a california. If you're naturalized citizen direct election just like we pick governors by direct election in states. And i think the senate is mala portion of our state. Upper houses are mala portion. That way so those would be my big for. And i look at state constitutions as my template i used to think state competitions are easy to amend and the federal constitution's harder to amanda used to think oh the federal constitution should be easy to amend just like states. I've changed my mind for two reasons. One states have had a lot of bad amendments as well as good ones. I'm from california. And some of the amendments have been good and some of the bad almost all the federal amendments have been good. They've added to liberty and equality bill of rights ending slavery woman. Suffrage get rid poll. Tax disenfranchisement meant second and related. Point is if you ask most americans which constitution they have more loyalty to. I think they would actually say the federal over the state. So when i'm a young person. I say oh things could be so much better cost issues too. Hard to amanda. I've got all these brilliant ideas and they're never going to get through. I now i'm an old guy and i think oh. Competition could be so much worse. The states all sorts of bad ideas or happening if the constitution were easily amendable. Today may be better but maybe it actually takes in in the or the wrong direction. In my lifetime amendments were proposed to make marriage only one man and one woman george w bush proposed such a thing and and and have majorities but not super majorities to actually succeed. There was an amendment proposed to make flag burning a crime. I think that's a mistake because it cuts into free speech and that's a bad thing so i've changed my mind on that now and on. Era i i'm in favor of emphatically. I think we should do it today. But you and. I agree today that we're going to try to get people to be motivated by truth. Be told it won't make that much of a difference in what courts do because courts have properly construed the fourteenth amendment to provide for women's equality and gay quality as well as racial equality. But i'd rather have it explicit in the constitution has just been here. Because i feel like i'm hearing two different arguments from you and tell me tell me if there if i'm mishearing this because on the one hand you are championing celebrating in this book. The conversation that went on in the eighteenth century to craft this idea of america and on the other hand. Now you're saying well. I also don't want it to be too easy to modify the constitution. Do you not have faith in the in the in the nation's ability now to have those same empowering conversations over the governing laws of the land. Oh i do but remember. The immediately added ten amendments to the constitution within two years of ratifying the thing so constitutional amendment is not impossible. They added ten right after ratifying. My claim is. They made amendments difficult to do compared to ordinary legislation and that was actually a feature not a bug that interns out. I now think a good thing. We shouldn't emend our document unless there's deep consensus about the direction of amendment and the problem right now in america is there's not sufficient consensus to actually move us strongly one way in one direction or the other so given that we should be hesitant because remember the losers in any amendment process are part of the society as well and if you if you lightly emend fifty one forty nine. That doesn't always actually work out. So also that's why. I changed my mind on this overtime. Okay now think. It's wise to require a strong consensus before we amend but not an impossible consensus and almost all the amendments we've added have been really good ones and none have been bad ones. And that's and that's not true at the state level. Where it's too easy to amend is there is there a lack of consensus nationally or the appearance of the lack of consensus because and the appearance because of something else in the constitution for like the way government is structured in the constitution. And and here's why. I ask that because there are constitutional scholars out there who would say that the united states right now at the federal level their argument is for example is looking both at constitutional scholars who've been published by the hoover institution and on the right and the nation on the left. So right who would say that. For example the nation is poorly governed right now because of the way congress is structured. You call you talked about mala portion men but that congress in fact is not actually even wired down to the level of what's written in the constitution to solve problems of national interest because it's built it's built to avoid the tyranny of the majority and instead it's wired to then allow parochial legislators to ansel answer to only their own local special interest. So you will never have the appearance of consensus for big issues of of national import of which we face far more. Today i would argue in the twenty first century than we ever did in the eighteenth century. Well i in my lifetime. We amended the constitution multiple times In the nineteen sixties so. I don't think the fats look. It's easy to blame the competition rather than looking the mirror and blame ourselves. Okay here at the fundamental problem in my view is that some. My fellow citizens are kind of crazy and until they get over that this is where we began with with with this chaney. The problem isn't the constitution. The problem is that there are lots of people today who are moving wanting move us in the wrong direction and no constitution that wants to be democratic can solve that problem just with a magic wand. The problem isn't i would say the structure of congress which is not a problem the nineteen sixties when we you know did amendments or the nineteen when we did amendments or the eighteen sixties when we did amendments or the eighteen the early eighteen hundreds when we we did amendment to the seventeen ninety s when we did a members. The problem is not the structure of constitutional amendment. The problem is today to many of my fellow citizens. Actually i would say have Unfortunate ideas and until we actually start talking to each other more and listening to each other better. We can't go forward it but you can't blame the constitution. You have to look in the mirror. I would agree in terms of the the danger of the lack of of meaningful open minded conversation this country completely and at the same time though again the very the very same thing that that leads you to call the con- the constitution. A hinge point in all of human history is the power of its initial ideas and how they set the template for what for this nation. Okay and i guess. What i'm saying is i think it ought to be easier for us to change that or adjust that template and look. I'm gonna. I'm gonna lean thomas. Jefferson himself wasn't at jefferson. Who said that. No society can make a perpetual constitution that the earth should belong to the living jenner mock and i mock him savagely in the book because he was an airhead on some of these things and so be careful what you wish for my friend because john boehner was speaker of the house and if he can just at any given moment amend the constitution because he's got a simple majority or kevin mccarthy or newt gingrich Then you know you might not like some of these amendments so thomas jefferson wasn't even there in seventeen eighty eight. He said a lot of silly things. Thank god he was a hypocrite. So i say in the book. He has to flaws. He's too much of a utopian but he's also a hypocrite and these flaws actually cancel out because some of his ideas were actually silly ones and and his idea that the constitution should lapse every nineteen. Years was actually a bad idea. Madison was horrified by it. I discuss it in pretty great data and i changed my mind and all these things. If you talk to me forty years ago. I would have said you know if i ever have a son. I'm going to name him jefferson because he's my hero. But i've changed my mind on those things because i've come to sort of see some of the complexities and maybe i've just gotten old and and crotchety. That's that's the other possible. Does as well. So i don't. I am not diminishing the the importance the urgent importance of the emergence of a very influential wing of the republican party slash. I would say the entire republican party. Now that is beholden to beliefs that undermined the constitution that that is an emergency situation. And i'm not diminishing it at the same time though. I think that. I'm just going to keep pushing this professor. If you forgive me right now this is a conversation. Yeah because i i i hear you saying that. I'm not arguing arguing for transformation of the fundamentals of what's in the constitution but by not allowing a document to be go through the process that conversational process of modernisation. You end up with the kind of constitutional calcification don't you. I mean some of your critics from not of you but of the constitution from the left who say well the very fear that the john banners and and mitch mcconnell's of the world might propose amendments that we don't like i mean that is what's leading can lead to the frozen democracy which has also been brittle one is it not. I know there are people who say that due respect. I know them extremely while. I read everything they written in. They're wrong okay. So i'll say it a different way again. I have testified on multiple constitutional amendments in congress. Here the ones. I've testified on amendments. That would have had changed the first amendment so that the government can put someone in prison for protesting government action by burning a flag and that that had a majority in the house and senate but thank god it didn't have two thirds came close to having two-thirds and i was opposed to that george w. bush had house and senate majorities to put in the constitution. Only fifteen years ago a rule that marriage had to be between one man and one woman. And i think that would be wrong. Era isn't in the constitution. Text textually but in fact. We have era today in the fourteenth amendment. So even though i'd like it in the text is not so bad. The status quo in fact which is ruth baiter ginsberg's landmark opinion. The case saying sex discrimination is usually unconstitutional especially by At treats women as second class citizens. It's always unconstitutional as that. So i i know there are people who say that I say the opposite. And and i'm comfortable with my position. I used to think the way they did. And now i've actually seen that that the dangers of to plebiscitary a process. Well this has been quite the conversation. And so i hope to continue with it as time goes by kiel. Read in love it. Akili tamar is sterling professor of law and political science at yale. One of the nation's most celebrated constitutional law scholars. His new book is the words. That made us america's constitutional conversation from seventeen sixty two eighteen forty professor mark. Thank you once again thank you. I magnin chakrabarti this point.

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