Framing the Framework

Eliot Spitzer may be defective in sexual morality (not to mention taste), but he made a very important point in a recent speech reported by ACS–the American Constitution Society.

As the ACS blog put it:

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, during a keynote speech at an ACS event examining corporations’ influence on the federal courts, said that progressives have been far too passive in the debate over the meaning and reach of the U.S. Constitution. Spitzer called the Constitution a “wildly progressive document,” and urged progressives to stop being silent about the richness and vitality of the nation’s governing document.

“I think we are about to lose the Constitution,” Spitzer said at the Feb. 8 “Federal Courts, Inc.?,” event. “I don’t mean in some dramatic way, like it’s going to be ripped away from us. But I do mean, just as we lost the conversation about what government should do, just as we lost the ability to speak with pride and vigor and define what a government can do for our communities, because we failed to make a counter argument, we are losing the narrative about the Constitution, because we are letting the other side claim it.”

Spitzer continued:

The Constitution is a wildly progressive document. It is an amazing thing. We all appreciate that. But our failure to stand up and defend it permits them to claim it. This charade of reading an edited version of the Constitution on the floor of the Congress, as though some how the parts of it we don’t like didn’t exist, as though somehow therefore they can have both an originalist interpretation, but ignore the originalist pieces they don’t like; I mean the internal incoherence of what they do is so palpable. And yet we don’t stand up and push back and say ‘Shame on you, stop, read it, see that there were warts in this document, see that it has grown, see how wonderful it is, and understand it because it has a dynamic and has grown to show us where society can go. We’re quiet. I would have loved to see the president push back on that – in the State of the Union. I would have love to see him say ‘I want to read the Constitution to you, and explain to you what it means, and how it grows.’