- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

The ‘life force’ of the Constitution

Paul Greenberg makes one very large error in his Monday Commentary column, “Constitution: Dead or alive.” He also makes an obvious point. Justice Antonin Scalia should not have labeled his opponents “idiots,” although figuring out the correct way to interpret the Constitution is not rocket science.

Mr. Greenberg’s very large error is that there is merit in the so-called living-Constitution theory. I have never encountered anyone who did not believe the Constitution should live.

The question, which the living-Constitution advocates pass over lightly, is: From whence should that life force spring? Arguing that it should spring from unelected judges with life tenure is tantamount to arguing against self-government.

Professor Lino Graglia discussed the perils of the living-Constitution approach in a Texas Law Review article published in 1987. Justice Scalia should refer his opponents to that article rather than label them idiots.

Our Founding Fathers, in their genius, provided a life force, Article V of the Constitution. When sufficient consensus exists that proponents of a change in the Constitution can muster the votes to comply with the amendment procedure in Article V, then, and only then, should the Constitution be changed.

Judge Robert Bork described the correct approach to constitutional interpretation thusly in the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 19, 2005: “[T]he judge must discern from the relevant materials — debates at the ConstitutionalConvention,the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers, newspaper accounts of the time, debates in the state ratifying conventions, and the like — the principles the ratifiers understood themselves to be enacting. The remainder of the task is to apply those principles to unforeseen circumstances, a task that law performs all the time. Any philosophy that does not confine judges to the original understanding inevitably makes the Constitution the plaything of willful judges.”

WILBURN L. MOORE

Vienna

Former officials get it wrong

Arnaud de Borchgrave’s article “Turmoil, tripwires and byproducts” (Commentary, Thursday), reports that 63 former government officials met in Monaco last weekend and reached a consensus: “Iraq is the biggest strategic blunder in 229 years of American history.”

Mr. de Borchgrave didn’t identify the attendees, but based on their pronouncement, I would expect to see the names of Neville Chamberlain, Jimmy Carter and Jacques Chirac on the list.

Diplomacy failed to rein in Adolph Hitler and prevent World War II, and it was equally impotent in bringing Saddam Hussein into compliance with international law.

The United Nations passed numerous resolutions with little effect on the “Butcher of Baghdad.” Saddam was defiant, as evidenced by his continued attacks on aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone to protect the Kurds from another murderous poison gas attack.

The corrupt United Nations then helped Saddam defeat the economic sanctions imposed on him while corrupt U.N. officials lined their pockets with lucrative oil vouchers.

Totalitarianism was the enemy in Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and imperial Japan, and it is the enemy in the Middle East today.

In Japan, the emperor was god and the warlords acted as his surrogates, demanding and getting total obedience from the citizenry. Modern-day warlords such as Osama bin Laden use Islam and fanatical allegiance to the prophet Muhammad to achieve the same result.

They tell their followers to strap on explosive belts and kill the infidels (anyone who does not agree with them) with the promise of a glorious afterlife.

This war against totalitarianism, intolerance, terrorism and oppression won’t end until its leaders and their fanatical followers are captured or killed. The only mistake America made was waiting too long to confront this evil.

RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio

Evolution’s toughest critics

Gordon Cruickshank argues that intelligent design should be permitted proper scientific evaluation rather than be squashed by the evolutionary ideology of narrow-minded academics (“Evolution debate needs even chance,” Forum, Sunday).

For some reason, however, he does not also point out the fundamental flaw in intelligent design — that because it invokes supernatural factors, it is not scientifically testable. Why does he not also point out that the work of biochemist Michael J. Behe and mathematician William A. Dembski (the two most prominent intelligent design researchers) has been rejected on theoretical and empirical grounds?

Readers also should understand that thousands of evolutionary biologists, from all around the world, are eagerly looking for gaps and flaws in the theory of evolution.

There is no closed “evolution club,” but rather a dynamic, highly skeptical field of scholarship. The examples of flaws in the theory (e.g. Piltdown man) are little more than old creationist tokens, long since recognized as irrelevant to the validity of evolutionary theory — even by most creationists.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Cruickshank, while arguing for truth, openness and honesty, portrays a false portrait of modern evolutionary biology and of intelligent design.

The harshest critics of evolutionary biology are evolutionary biologists. The field is fiercely competitive and highly skeptical. Why does modern evolutionary theory still stand? There is only one reason, and that is that the evidence accumulated so far is consistent with that theory.

JODY HEY

Professor

Department of Genetics

Rutgers University

Piscataway, N.J.

Public relations and ports

The furor over the Bush administration’s stance on the DP World ports deal will subside, but not without risk to the administration’s political fortunes (“Recent White House missteps create rift with GOP legislators,” Page 1, Wednesday).

All parties to the controversy are to blame. The Democrats’ outrage over the deal is overwrought, to say the least. They need to do much more than leap to the right of the administration if they want to build their national security credentials.

Many Republicans likewise have reacted in a less than fully principled manner. In times of trouble, such as they have had recently, they are too easily tempted to embrace dubious policy positions in order to shore up support from their base. Their knee-jerk response to the ports deal indicates just such a lack of dispassionate judgment.

Yet the administration also must assume partial responsibility for the flap. Regardless of how sound its decision was, it did nothing to prepare anyone, members of Congress or the American people, for the news. As Ricky Ricardo would have said, it had some splainin’ to do. It should have realized that silence would only ignite a firestorm of rebuke from across the political spectrum. Too often, the administration displays a lack of political surefootedness, and its handling of this deal is a textbook example of this tendency.

The danger, of course, is that such clumsiness weakens support not only for the Bush administration, but also for the Republican Party. That this decision comes on the heels of a series of fumbles makes this stumble even more regrettable. An administration whose opponents deny its very legitimacy cannot afford to trip up, even if its foes are more hapless than itself.

Time still remains for the administration to overcome its flatfootedness, but not much. Otherwise, it could wreck its party’s chances in this year’s off-year election. In so doing, it could cripple itself permanently. Such a blow could undermine, among other things, the war effort it has labored to prosecute.

CHARLES H. RIEPER

Columbus, Ohio

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