by Rob Natelson, Electric City Weblog

You would think it wouldn’t be too much to ask for the people who serve in government or who presume to influence our public policy to have a clue about what the Constitution means.

On that subject, the Washington Post syndicate is featuring a column by “progressive” Paul Begala, once a Clinton health care advisor and now a part-time professor at Georgetown. 

The gist of the column is that if it isn’t politically possible for the feds to completely take over health care now, they should at least grab as much of it as they can.

On the Constitution, Begala writes:

“The Founders gave us a standard: ‘a more perfect Union’  It’s an odd phrase; we don’t generally speak of something becoming ‘more perfect.’  I believe it means that we have a duty, every generation, to make progress.”

Rubbish.

As students of the Constitution know,  in eighteenth-century English, the word “perfect” usually meant “complete.”  The Framers were stating in the Constitution’s Preamble that the new union was to be more complete than the union had been under the Articles of Confederation.

Free government requires that policy makers understand the basic law under which they operate.

Begala’s column is but one example of a disturbing tendency among policy-makers and intellectuals to dodge the work it takes to understand our basic law, and speculate instead.

Rob Natelson is Professor of Law at The University of Montana, and a leading constitutional scholar.  (See www.umt.edu/law/faculty/natelson.htm.) His opinions are his own, and should not be attributed to any other person or institution.

In private life, Rob Natelson is a long-time conservative/free market activist, but professionally he is a constitutional scholar whose meticulous studies of the Constitution’s original meaning have been repeatedly cited in U.S. Supreme Court opinions and published or cited by many top law journals (See: www.constitution.i2i.org/about/) He co-authored The Origins of the Necessary and Proper Clause (Cambridge University Press) and The Original Constitution (Tenth Amendment Center). He was a law professor for 25 years and taught constitutional law and related courses. He is the Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at Colorado’s Independence Institute.

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Small things grow great by concord...

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