The Political Correctness of Recognized Experts
The compulsion of political correctness.
While Christ is "the God of the whole earth" (3 Nephi 11:14), it is important to bear in mind that there is another god of great influence and power in the world. Paul speaks of "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4) who blinds people's minds against the gospel.
The god of this world of course is Lucifer. He is the god behind the philosophy of the world. Lucifer's influence extends even to those who profess to be followers of Christ as is indicated in the following statement by Nephi concerning the latter days.
They have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men. (2 Nephi 29:14)
Lucifer is sometimes called the great deceiver and the father of lies because he operates by deception in making evil seem good and good seem evil. An aspect of that deception is the use of compulsion to prevent the opposing point of view from being heard. This is an important part of his method of operation because if both sides were fairly presented, many more people would escape from his deception.
In connection with the two Constitutions, Lucifer exercises major influence to promote the Constitution of the Supreme Court and to belittle and ridicule the Framers' Constitution and prevent it from being fairly considered.
Today the label used to identify requiring one side to be accepted and preventing the opposing side from being fairly heard is "political correctness." This chapter presents some thoughts on political correctness in connection with the conflict between believers in the two Constitutions.
Academic political correctness.
The modern changed concept of judicial review is a foundation principle of the constitutional philosophy that dominates the academic community today. This is particularly true in the law schools.
For this reason many Latter-day Saints whose knowledge of the Constitution is limited to what they have learned in our educational system are committed to that point of view. It is not that they wilfully reject the tradition of the Founding Fathers. Ordinarily [p. 68] they have simply accepted what they have been taught as true, and have not been exposed to information seriously questioning it.
Those who are themselves a part of the academic community are in a different situation. They are not only immersed in that philosophy continuously, but their own academic stature is dependent on at least appearing to adhere to it.
Also in general those in the academic community tend to think highly of what might be accomplished if they had the power to implement their ideas. This leads many of them to be oriented to use of government compulsion to obtain desired actions. With that orientation they tend naturally to favor the predominant philosophy because it permits their ideas to be considered without the stigma of being in violation of constitutional limitations on government power.
For these additional reasons, and perhaps others, one should not be surprised to find some Latter-day Saints in the academic community expressing agreement with the modern concept of judicial review.
Attitude of LDS constitutional law professor in the 1960's.
In the 1960's when I was writing The Elders of Israel and the Constitution, I showed the manuscript to a Latter-day Saint friend of mine who was a highly respected constitutional law professor. At that time Chapter 8 entitled "How Flexible Is the Constitution?" was fairly short. That is the chapter that discusses improper changes made by the Supreme Court under the changed doctrine of judicial review.
To my surprise, my LDS constitutional law professor friend emphatically declared that I couldn't prove the statements I had made about actions by the Supreme Court in violation of the Framers' Constitution. He seemed to me to be so committed to the modern fluid constitutional interpretation that anything else was unthinkable.
By way of indicating to my friend that my conclusions were based on real supporting information, I mentioned that Clarence Manion, Dean of Notre Dame Law School and a constitutional law professor for many years, had expressed a similar position. My friend seemed to be aware that Dean Manion agreed with me, but he said that Dean Manion was not a "good authority." My friend's comment seems especially significant to me as confirmation that even then, whether a person was regarded as a "good authority" depended, not on his knowledge, but on the political correctness of his philosophical orientation.
I am grateful for my friend's comments because they resulted in my greatly enlarging Chapter 8 of The Elders of Israel and the Constitution with detailed documentation, including many quotations from Supreme Court opinions. That material shows that the Supreme Court has not only radically changed our constitutional system, but that apparently at least some of the changes were made in deliberate small increments so the people would not be alarmed by too great changes at once. That chapter became the longest in the book and I [p. 69] felt served as a valuable resource documenting the Supreme Court's transformation of a fundamental aspect of the Constitution by continuous usurpation.
Some of my friend's students have mentioned how pleased they were to study constitutional law under a faithful Latter-day Saint professor who did not hesitate to express his conviction that the Constitution was inspired. Such comments have caused me to have mixed feelings because I felt that the Constitution he believed in and taught was that of the Supreme Court rather than that of the Framers.
Prevailing attitude of recognized Latter-day Saint constitutional experts in the 1990's.
Now, in the 1990's, the attitude of most Latter-day Saint experts still appears to be in harmony with the prevailing constitutional philosophy of most judges and non Latter- day Saint experts. While there is some disagreement with what is considered to be inappropriate judicial activism, there is general agreement with most of the decisions of the Supreme Court.
That general agreement includes acceptance of the modern concept of judicial review under which the Supreme Court modifies the Constitution by interpretation. Those who adhere to that concept tend to make unfavorable comments about portions of the text of the Framers' Constitution. Such comments imply that modification by Supreme Court interpretation is desirable. The following is an example of such a comment.
Our Constitution has some provisions that are not only not divine: they are positively repulsive. The classic example is contained in Article V, which guaranteed as a matter of constitutional right that the slave trade would continue through at least the year 1808. (Rex E. Lee address to BYU student assembly on January 15, 1991.)
The slavery provisions of the Constitution.
It seems to me that the slavery provisions of the Constitution are an example of wise statesmanship. The Constitution enabled the central government to prohibit the importation of slaves after a 20-year transitional period. This was a clear step in the direction of ending slavery. If the Framers had attempted to abolish slavery immediately, their refusal to tolerate a gradual transition would almost certainly have dismembered the union.
The Seventeenth Amendment.
Another example of pointing out what are said to be imperfections in the text of the Framers' Constitution is the attitude of recognized experts toward the 17th Amendment. The following is an example of such a comment. [p. 70]
Moreover, regarding the Constitution as tantamount to scripture is difficult to square with the fact that our republic has functioned very well, probably even better, after at least one of its original provisions (requiting United States senators to be elected by their respective state legislatures rather than the people at large) was amended out of existence by the 17th Amendment. (Ibid.)
I do not agree with that characterization of the 17th Amendment. A major issue today is federal usurpation of state authority and what the states can do to restore the constitutional balance. That would not be an issue if the 17th Amendment had not deprived the states of their principal weapon in such a contest.
Under the Framers' original Constitution, the states' representation in the Senate gave them the power to control who is confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, and what laws are passed by Congress.
There is another area I find disturbing about the above quoted characterization of the 17th Amendment. That is an implied greater confidence in federal solutions than state solutions. Although the states have passed their share of bad laws, I believe the federal batting average is at least as bad. Furthermore, I believe bad federal laws can be much more harmful for several reasons. Their impact is much more extensive. They rarely accommodate local differences. They can't be avoided by a person moving to another state. The sheer size and power of the federal government under the Supreme Court's Constitution combined with the realities of human nature constitute a real danger to our freedom.
Necessity of making one's own study of Constitution.
I believe recognition of the predominance of the modern concept of judicial review among recognized authorities confirms the importance of Latter-day Saints studying the Constitution on their own in the tradition of the Founding Fathers. Through making such a study, they can personally have sufficient understanding to distinguish between the two Constitutions and judge against the standard of the Framers' Constitution the various proposals and ideas that may be presented. [p. 71]