Friday, September 16, 2005
By Steven L. Taylor

Based on this post at a Knight’s Blog, it may be that I wasn’t wholly clear in my Constitution Day post below.

Setting any normative judgement concerning the evolution of policy making and federalism in the United States, I will say the following:

It is (to me, anyway) profoundly ironic that Robert Byrd has managed to get the whole country talking about the Constitution by using the Congress in a way that has almost nothing to do with the Constitution (at least in terms of direct, actual policy-power granted to Congress): he used the fact that educational institutions get federal funds to leverage those institutions to have Constitution Day events.

I find it ironic, because it is a utilization of federal power that the many of the Founders, especially Madison, would have been horrified by and because careful scrutiny of Byrd’s actions reveals a lot about how policy-making and federalism in the US has evolved in ways not wholly in keeping with either spirit or the letter of our Constitution.

This is simply fact, and should not construed as endorsing Alan Keyes’ ideas of returning to 19th Century federalism. However, I do think that citizens need to understand the fiscal nature of federalism in the current era, as it has clearly enhanced the power of Congress.

There is more to say about Scott’s post, but I will leave at that for the nonce.

(Part of today’s OTB Traffic Jam).

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5 Responses to “Short(er) Version of My Constitution Day Post”

  1. Scott Gosnell Says:

    Ahh . . . you put it in the Traffic Jam. No fair.

    I suspect we actually agree on more than is apparent, with perhaps a disagreement based on emphasis. Regardless, I will respond in a post, probably tomorrow.

  2. Matthew Says:

    Yeah, that was much clearer! However, I think I got it the first time, and it was how I understood it in my post at F&V responding to your earlier one.

    OK, as long as we are in seance with Madison, what would he think of the very proces itself by which Byrd got this passed. Not the substance (a mandate on local schools, but the process: The idea of Constitution Day and its accmpanying mandate was not passed after open debate in Congress on the idea, but by a rider to an appropriations bill?

    I do not know at what point Congress started doing that (on all sorts of far more consequential matters), but I am pretty sure it was not a practice at the time the Federalist Papers were written.

  3. Random Fate Says:

    Constitutional irony

    Dr. Stephen Taylor discusses the irony of using aconstitutional methods to mandate teaching about the United States Constitution on Constitution Day.

  4. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    I figured the refs to Madison would get your attention ;)

    I honestly have no basis for determining what his response to the maneuver would have been.

  5. A Knight’s Blog » Happy Constitution Day — Again Says:

    [...] hole train rolling. . . . Steven Taylor continues to answer my previous post and examine (here and here) the problems “inherent in the system” of allowing Congress to use federal (taxpayer [...]

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