Why the Bill of Rights Is a Failure
I have often thought that Americans believe the Framers of their Constitution actually bequeathed to them a bill of rights, with a frame of government attached as an appendix, in the form of a few general suggestions. Constitutional lawyers, judges, and especially academics have been among the worst offenders, here. Jesse Choper, for decades a prominent scholar of constitutional law, built an entire career around the notion that Supreme Court justices should see their job as protecting individual rights. Other supposedly lesser issues of mundane law such as contract disputes, wrongful death, and fraud that are at the center of law and what it can do for (and to) regular people should fend for themselves, on this view. As Mr. Choper would have it, the Supreme Court only has so much institutional capital and should use it where it is most needed.
The crybullies lately rampaging around Yale, the University of Missouri, and other campuses have shown how well that strategy works. Bewailing “microaggressions” that make them feel bad, increasing numbers of college students are dismissing civility, fairness, and especially free speech rights in the name of their “right” to emotional comfort. The Vice President of the University of Missouri student government, one Brenda Smith-Lezama, even said in a television interview, “I personally am tired of hearing that first amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here.” The astonishing ignorance, selfishness, and contempt for American constitutional values packed into this one statement constitute proof that our constitutional rights are no longer valued or even vaguely understood by a wide swath of American college students.
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