Two Constitutions: Republican and Democrat
Brett Marston?, guesting at PoliBlog while the Taylors vacation, links an academic paper on the views the Republicans and Democrats have of the Constitution.
The Republicans have frozen their constitution at Brown. It is the bygone world of small-town America revisited with the decided improvement that racial discrimination is prohibited. Religion can be a part of the schools; abortion may be criminalized; and police practices are largely invisible to judicial scrutiny. Courts know their subordinate place and stay there, though activism may be required to get back to the right status quo.
By contrast the rights-oriented Democratic position requires a return to the Warren Court and a judiciary actively willing to place certain values into the Constitution because that is what right-thinking people would have in a good constitution. Democrats look to a Court with the immodesty of Antonin Scalia and the jurisprudence of William J. Brennan. The Great Court is then coupled with an unacknowledged hostility to elections. Whatever their rhetoric about facilitating voting and voters, Democrats are unwilling to let elections decide the federal or state policies on the issues discussed. (footnotes omitted)
While I think it’s a little more complicated than that–there’s the whole Strict Constructionist versus Textualist debate even among conservative Republican jurists, for example–it’s a good snapshot at what non-lawyer activists in both parties want.
Of the two stark visions above, I’d still prefer the former. Indeed, I prefer my Constitution fixed at the date of the last amendment, not the last Supreme Court edict.