To many constitutional law scholars, the recent situation
portends weighty consequences. They see a ripple affect from such
scenarios that could potentially do lasting damage to our democratic
experiment--particularly due to judicial activism. Most astonishing is that those sounding
warning bells represent a tiny number so far, judging from even
conservative media sources. Could it be that the potential indications and
ramifications of the political/legal imbroglio were largely lost on the
American public, press and government leaders? Has Postmodern relativism and
day-to-day truth-construction made its most public appearance yet? Are we in
a true constitutional crisis?
Calvin Beisner, associate professor of Historical Theology and
Social Ethics at Knox Theological Seminary (whose letter to Vice
President Gore serves as the centerpiece of this Special Focus), wonders at
the widespread ignorance of even high officials regarding our basic
form of government and its underlying principles. On the news, one
U.S. Senator invoked "the rule of law"--a sacred doctrine at the center of the
American system of government--and in the same breath reports that the
courts have ruled on such and such decision, apparently tying the two
together as one. "People equate judgements from the bench, bills from
legislators and executive orders as 'the rule of law'," Beisner laments. This
Special Focus is a small attempt to help lift some of the
still-prevailing fog on issues deeper than "pregnant chads."
—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University
Gene Edward Veith
Al Gore takes postmodernism to its logical conclusion and leads liberal
politics to an all-time low. ...However the election goes, Americans should
be asking whether political institutions that originated in a worldview
resting on transcendent absolutes can survive if the culture no longer
believes in any of them.
The End of Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics
A Compilation of Articles from First Things Journal
A compilation of the articles that ignited the controversy over the power
of the Supreme Court.
Letters to the Editor
First Things Journal
In the November 1996 issue First Things published "The End of
Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics" (see link above). The
symposium has produced a very lively debate with sharp disagreements and
strong affirmations, reflected by the correspondence back to First
Things found here.
To Reclaim Our Democratic Heritage
First Things, January 1997
The editors of First Things provide this rebuttal to those who believe "The
End of Democracy?" went too far.
The Future of the End of Democracy
Budziszewski enters the fray over First Thing's 1996 symposium "The End of
Democracy?" He summarizes critics' positions and submits his own thoughts
on whether our American polity is broken.
The Constitution in the Cave
Steven D. Smith
With the phrase, "The will of the people" being invoked to the point of
rendering it sacrosanct, this article seems fitting for our discussion of
potential fallout from the 2000 election. Smith debates the question of
whether present-day constitutional interpretation reflects the beliefs of
the American people or of a dogmatic elite.
The Constitution of Babel
Steven D. Smith
Deeply discusses the schizophrenia of the modern discourse of
constitutionalism and the place of reason in our system--a place seemingly
vacated given some recent events in the 2000 Presidential election.
Thoughts on Obedience and Disobedience
First Things, November 1996
Excerpts from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr.,
and William Lloyd Garrison.
Faith & Freedom: The Philadelphia Miracle (Chapter 21)
What would transpire in Philadelphia between the spring and fall of 1787
was the construction of the most successful frame of government ever
devised in the history of man in terms of ensuring the liberty of the
people and perpetuating their prosperity. Contains a brief note on the
The Number of Electors Necessary for the Election of a President
Legal Memorandum of The Heritage Foundation
The ongoing debate concerning the presidential election has raised many
important legal and constitutional questions, including several relating to
Congress's constitutional duties under the original language of Article II
and the Twelfth Amendment. In response to numerous requests, we [The
Heritage Foundation] have provided our initial legal view on how many
electoral votes it takes to become President of the United States.
Go here to see our past Special Focus features.