OWS and the Constitution

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5 Responses

  1. Shag from Brookline says:

    Perhaps OWS protesters are more in line with FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights” from his 1/11/44 State of the Union address. See Wikipedia:


  2. Bruinrefugee says:

    What I’ve never understood is how Citizens United is treated as a pro-GOP/pro-big business ruling.

    Here’s the top “heavy hitters” in political giving over the last ten years:


    By my count, 9 of the top 15 are unions and the overall money has a heavy Democratic tilt. As I understand it, annually (or at least per election cycle), unions provide over $500 million in political spending. If you look at open secrets contributions by sector as well over the last 12 years, similar results tend to hold (e.g., lawyers are top givers and they run 60-82% Democrat; securities/investments tends to run about 60-65% Democrat; while certain industries tend to be pretty variable).

    That doesn’t really address the constitutional merits, but it does raise the question of who’s really “buying” the government and how.

  3. Orin Kerr says:

    If we apply Balkin’s standard, what social movement is *not* a constitutional movement? Every social movement that seeks to change the law is about improving government, helping people, ending bad things government has done or starting good ones. If we use Balkin’s standard, I’m not sure why all such movements wouldn’t be ultimately about the Constitution, at least at some level of generality.

  4. A.J. Sutter says:

    Orin, I partly agree with your point, since Jack’s notion of “Constitutional” also embraces the “ideal” Constitution, i.e., the Declaration of Independence. Still, one might be able to distinguish in a fuzzy-logic, rather than bright-line way, even using his broad criterion. For example, one type of movement that might not rise to Constitutional level might be one that focuses on enhancing the punishment for certain crimes, e.g. Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Even though the OWS folks would probably like to see bankers punished, I think one could reasonably distinguish between the ensemble of issues pushed by OWS and that pushed by MADD as to which one invokes more Constitutional themes (in the Balkinesque reading). A different sort of counterexample might be the animal rights movement: it would be implausible to say that the Declaration was intended to apply to animals, even if one feels ethically that animals ought to have more “human rights”. A devil’s advocate might be able to make an argument that there’s nonetheless “some level of generality” at which even MADD or animal rights advocacy is about Constitutional issues, but that might not be a very useful level of generality.

  5. Shag from Brookline says:

    Hasn’t constitutional movement followed/resulted from social movement, i.e. progress? (Two steps forward, one step back?)