Upcoming Boston University Law Review Symposium: America’s Political Dysfunction, Constitutional Connections, Causes, and Cures

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8 Responses

  1. Brett Bellmore says:

    Is there going to be anyone involved advocating the position, which in truth is a quite common one, that the problem is not the Constitution, but that it’s being violated? That the problem is that the federal government has grown vast beyond any legitimate role in society thanks to a judiciary rationalizing ever more usurpations of power, and this swollen federal government is the source of the dysfunction, not the last tattered limitations on it’s power?

  2. Shag from Brookline says:

    I don’t know if Brett bothered to read “below the fold” setting forth many questions to be considered by the various panels, speakers, etc. But it is clear that various aspects will be discussed. The conference faculty is quite varied and based upon my experience at attending legal conferences and/or reading about then in law reviews, there should be extensive disagreements on the questions raised. But Brett feels obliged to express his simpletonian views and judgments in advance in his manner as an anarcho-libertarian. As America has grown since 1787, government has had to grow to keep up with itself as well as to be prepared to compete/lead/defend itself in a world that requires more and more interdependence.

  3. Brett Bellmore says:

    Yes, it’s clear that various aspects will be discussed. I’m simply asking if there will be anybody there who will discuss them from a particular, quite mainstream, viewpoint.

    Wouldn’t be the first conference where the outcome was decided in advance, by making sure everybody participating already agreed.

  4. Shag from Brookline says:

    Perhpa Brett can define his:

    ” … a particular, quite mainstream, viewpoint.”

    I don’t think a self-professed anarcho-libertarian has a mainstream viewpoint.

    And Brett assumes that the outcome of the conference has been decided in advance, further assuming that ” … by making sure everybody participating already agreed.” What does Brett base these assumption on? All the panelists, speakers, etc, have agreed? There is a diversity of constitutional scholars/political scientists participating. To get them to agree in advance would be tougher than herding cats. There are avowed originalists, avowed non-originalist, mugwamp originalist/living constitutionalists, many not committed to either originalism or non-originalism. Brett can continue with simpletonian “dead-hand” but he may be playing solitaire. I don’t know if any of the participants fits the anarcho-libertarian mode, but some may be different sorts of libertarians. Perhaps Brett should attend to attempt to verify his assumptions or await the BU Law Review issue covering conference presentations/discussions. What was it Oscar Wilde said “When you assume ….”

  5. Brett Bellmore says:

    “And Brett assumes that the outcome of the conference has been decided in advance”

    Is that what you do when you ask a question? Assume the answer? Because it isn’t what *I* do when I ask a question.

    “There is a diversity of constitutional scholars/political scientists participating. To get them to agree in advance would be tougher than herding cats.”

    But simply choosing people who already agree on some particular point requires no herding at all. And it happens, occasionally. Which is why I asked whether a particular viewpoint, far more common than my own anarcho-capitalism, had been excluded.

    Because it’s not a viewpoint that appears to be expressed in anything I see above.

  6. Shag from Brookline says:

    Brett still doesn’t inform us just what is:

    ” … a particular viewpoint, far more common than my own anarcho-capitalism … ” [Did brett intend “capitalism” as opposed to “libertarian”?]

    he thinks or claims or assumes has been excluded. Without knowing what viewpoint he says doesn’t appear ” … to be expressed in anything I see above.” how do we know what he is talking about? Perhaps Brett is playing the Humpty-Dumpty role from Alice in Wonderland.

    And Brett’s:

    “But simply choosing people who already agree on some particular point requires no herding at all.”

    is close to an accusation by Brett that that that is what has been done for this conference. Whether such has been done for other conferences is irrelevant. If Brett has facts, he should recite them.

  7. Brett Bellmore says:

    “Brett still doesn’t inform us just what is:”

    What, you mean aside from having informed you what it was in my very first comment? Which you seem to have reacted to without actually, you know, reading.

    And what facts do I need to recite, there’s the description of the conference in the post. That’s the recital right there.

  8. Shag from Brookline says:

    Yes, I did read Brett’s #1 in the form of questions. I did respond in my #2 [no jokes,please!] to the growth of the federal government. Of course this is a common complaint of conservatives and especially their Tea Party base and other libertarians of various kinds. I could have pointed out the Tea Party’s challenge to Obama’s candidacy for reelection “Don’t touch my Medicare.” Of course Medicare is a large part of the federal government, which apparently the Tea Party is happy with. Based upon the demographic make-up of Tea Partiers, they presumably want the government (read, Obama) to keep its hands off their Social Security as well. And of course Social Security is a large part of the federal government , which apparently the Tea Party is happy with. So is the large size of the federal government the mainstream problem that Brett feels is being ignored by this conference? Upon examination, it is not as simpletonian as Brett suggests in the form of weasly questions.

    I did not respond in my #2 to Brett’s blaming of the judiciary for this growth in the federal government. The judiciary is involved pursuant to the Constitution per Article III. But so is Congress and the Executive. The growth of the federal government did not result overnight, and such growth occurred under both Republican and Democrat Congresses and Executives. Perhaps Brett does not believe there is dysfunction. The second paragraph of this post sets forth a background. Perhaps Brett is unfamiliar with Mann (Brookings) and Ornstein’s (AEI) writings on “alleged” political dysfunction, or of other conferences that addressed political dysfunction. Much more perhaps can be said about political dysfunction but this conference chose another mode set forth in the fourth paragraph of this post which bears repeating:


    BU Law Review is hosting a conference that will assess such claims about dysfunction, breakdown, and failure. But unlike some prior conferences, it will focus on constitutional connections, causes, and cures. Taking up the forms and manifestations of dysfunction, breakdown, and failure, the conference will ask “What, if anything, does the Constitution have to do with all this?” For example, are we experiencing a constitutional failure, as distinguished from a moral failure, a political failure, an institutional failure, or a failure of policy that may or may not be directly related to the Constitution? Are the lamented dysfunction, breakdown, and failure caused by the Constitution? Do they stem from a feature or defect of the Constitution? Do they result from constitutional requirements? Are they made more likely by our constitutional design?


    As I noted earlier in this comment, the judiciary acts under the Constitution. While favorability of the judiciary has declined in recent months, it is still much higher than that of Congress, which is so low that it even makes Obama’s declining favorability look good in comparison. Since all three act under the Constitution, what is wrong with the approach of this conference in looking at an aging Constitution to consider its role in political dysfunction? If Brett wants some other approach, let him start his own “Dilbertian” conference. But Brett in effect is accusing this conference of being rigged, as noted in my #4 and #6 comments. What facts does Brett base this upon? Does he truly know that the many participants walk in an agreed upon lockstep? Those are the facts Brett needs to recite. And what if there is some sort of a conclusion from the conference that the Constitution does contribute to political dysfunction? Surely there may be minority views, especially as to solutions that might be proposed.

    This conference was not designed with any input from me; if I were asked, I might have come up with some suggestions. But I have no quarrel with the conference agenda and look forward to it and its results. I may disagree with the results but the effort to torpedo this conference by a self-described anarcho-libertarian is a dud.