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Hullo, everyone. I’m just popping in to let you all know about an online course I’m teaching early next year called The History of the Second Amendment. It’s with a new startup called Chapter, which noticed that pretty much every course they were offering was either progressive or progressive-adjacent, decided that it didn’t want to become an echo chamber, and so asked me to teach one, too. I suggested the history of the right to keep and bear arms as a topic, they agreed, and here were are.
Chapter describes its system as “like a book club, but way more fun.” Each week, I’ll provide a reading list (which could be articles, reviews, videos, podcasts, or primary source documents), along with insights and tips on each one. There will be a community forum in which you can discuss each topic, as well as a rolling Q&A in which I will answer questions — both on their website and, if the topic warrants it, by video. Because people are busy, everything will be “asynchronous” — that is, you can take part whenever you’re free, rather than at times that are set by me. The course will last four weeks, it will cost $40 (actually: $35 for Ricochet members), and it will run the gamut.
— Week One will be on pre-Revolutionary America. We’ll explore how the right to keep and bear arms came over with the colonists from Britain, before making its way into the heart of American law.
Sadly, promotion of Juneteenth from rhetorical and symbolic recognition to federal workforce paid holiday prompted the usual response of most people going to their corners, blue or red. Part of the reaction from the right was to suggest that Juneteenth was meaningless, and that if any day was to be advanced (really no day was […]
Since that fateful day of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, FL, a hornet’s nest has been stirred, and it’s long overdue. President Trump is hearing from all sides, hosting law enforcement, governors, as well as students and parents. I heard on the radio part of his discussion with Diane Feinstein and other […]
It has been suggested from time to time that the institution of the Electoral College be abolished as the mechanism for selecting the President of the United States. Most advocates of eliminating the Electoral College support some form of national election, a “one-person-one-vote” direct democracy. Simple, right? The candidate with the most votes nationwide wins. […]
On Monday I say, “Here is a wonderful document. It establishes a federal republic based on checks and balances with the purpose of protecting our natural rights and securing the blessings of liberty. It is a living document, and explains how we can update it if we need to.” And you say, “This is a good document.” On Tuesday I say, “The document has some new sentences. Now it also says we should end slavery.” And you say, “That is also good.”
On Wednesday, however, I say, “Now the document says there are some other rights that overrule some of the old ones.” And you say, “Can I read the new sentences?” I reply: “There are no new sentences. Just a new meaning.” You ask, “Where did the old meaning go, and how did you squeeze this new meaning into the old sentences?”
On Thursday I say, “Now the document says we have the right to marry any way we like. Today two men can marry each other, and tomorrow they can marry five men or five women; after that, perhaps they can marry their mothers and their dogs if they like.” You ask when the document started meaning this, and I answer “Just this morning.” You ask when I updated the words to include this new meaning and I say, “The words have not changed since Tuesday.” It’s hard to say what will happen on Friday, but it probably won’t be good.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has put forth a proposal called, “Restoring the Rule of Law with States Leading the Way.” The proposal includes nine amendments to the United States Constitution: I. Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one State. Preview Open
Whether the Democrat majority is 60 votes, 56 votes or 44 votes, Sen. Mitch McConnell has proven himself to be an excellent Minority Leader. He has worked mightily to prevent Obama from implementing his agenda through legislation after the initial spurt during 2009-10 when ObamaCare and “economic stimulus” were pushed through. Sure, Obama has achieved […]
It’s Constitution Day! My husband is off giving a paid speech at a midwestern university. It turns out the Feds require some sort of recognition of the day in higher education. I’m happy enough that our family can profit by this, but distressed about the bureaucratic overreach that demands it. He first wrote an interesting speech detailing the parallels between our own contemporary circumstances and the decline of the Roman Empire, but when the organizers emailed the program, it turned out he was supposed to talk about his latest book, The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom. Doh. I guess the other speech is destined for a magazine or SSRN or something.
Anyway, I’m curious to hear what you all see as the future of our wonderful Constitution. It has been nearly buried by the bureaucratic state, overweening judiciary, and imperial president. We the People seem to have been lost in the shuffle.
Do you think there is any way to reinstate the Constitution as our guiding American document and give the power back to We the People? I will admit that the undelivered speech was not very optimistic. When he related it to me a few weeks ago in a practice run, I told him that he could not end his speech on such a negative note — though his law professor colleagues told him it was too optimistic.
On Wednesday, as the dust was settling, George Will published a column that deserves attention. In it, he suggested a number of measures that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell should press as soon as the new Congress meets.
Some of his suggestions are obvious: the Republicans should repeal the tax on medical devices, authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, mandate completion of the nuclear waste respository in Nevada’s Yucca mountain. Passing these will place President Obama in the awkward position of following their lead or vetoing these popular and sensible measures.
Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago, 40 men from 13 states signed the constitution produced by the Philadelphia Convention. On June 21 of the following year, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, thereby activating it. New York and Virginia quickly followed suit and North Carolina and Rhode Island limped in by the the end of 1789.
While there’s credit to go around, the true heroes of the day were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and George Washington. In a little-known part of the tale, the three of them hijacked the Annapolis Convention of 1786 — convened to help settle trade disputes and reduce tariffs between the states — and used it to call for a second convention to consider amending the Articles of Confederation. Largely through their leadership, that meeting overstepped its mandate and proposed an entirely new form of government. What Adams did to the Continental Congress in 1776, they repeated twice in the decade that followed.
In the latest installment of The Libertarian podcast, Professor Epstein takes us through a thorough consideration of the issue of property rights: how the Founders thought about them, when the courts started distorting them, and what can be done to restore them to reasonable strength. Take a listen: