AS ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL under President Ronald Reagan, I prepared a report for Attorney General Edwin Meese entitled “The Constitution in the Year 2000: Choices Ahead.” This report sought to identify a range of areas in which significant constitutional controversy could be expected over the next 20 years. As critical as I believe those controversies were, they pale in significance before the controversies that will arise over the next several decades. The resolution of these emerging controversies will determine whether the Constitution of 2030 bears any resemblance to the Constitution of 1787—the Framers’ Constitution that has guided this nation for most of its first two centuries and has rendered it the freest, most prosperous, and most creative nation in the history of the world.
Proponents of a “21st century constitution” or “living constitution” aim to transform our nation’s supreme law beyond recognition—and with a minimum of public attention and debate. Indeed, if there is an overarching theme to what they wish to achieve, it is the diminishment of the democratic and representative processes of American government. It is the replacement of a system of republican government, in which the constitution is largely focused upon the architecture of government in order to minimize the likelihood of abuse of power, with a system of judicial government, in which substantive policy outcomes are increasingly determined by federal judges. Rather than merely defining broad rules of the game for the legislative and executive branches of government, the new constitution would compel specific outcomes.
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Tags: assistant attorney general, attorney general edwin meese, constitution of 1787, framers constitution, president ronald reagan, stephen markman