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Thursday: Backstory- Laboratories of Democracy

Early morning TC today so this will be quick.

I found a new podcast to recommend.  It’s called Backstory.  The concept is three historians, one from each of the last three centuries, who cover current events and their evolution in American History.  The podcast is a top notch production and the topics are well researched.  One of the more recent podcasts, called Laboratories of Democracy, focuses on states’ rights and federalism.  You may be surprised to learn that federalism has many different definitions.  It’s one of those fungible ideas that can mean what ever the speaker wants it to mean.

The Backstory guys also discuss the 14th amendment in this podcast and what it means in terms of civil rights for persons.  Person, in this case, may also refer to a corporation.  It occured to me that I would very much like to know what the next supreme court justice thinks about the 14th amendment.  Does it refer to corporations?  What about women?  Would equal protection also apply to  persons seeking specific medical procedures?

The federalism episode was produced in February, before Souter announced his retirement, so it wasn’t produced in reference to the Supreme Court vacancy.  You may recall that during the Republican administrations, Supreme Court nominees were selected based on their membership in the Federalist Society.  That’s code for something and the Laboratories in Democracy podcast hint at what that might be.  This podcast is one to keep an ear on for a comprehensive background briefing on how we got here in this point in time.  Check it out.


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25 Responses

  1. RD, this is a fascinating read. Even more fascinating are some of the comments left on the podcast. The topic of states’ rights are provocative. One of the podcast commenters states that since the North won the civil war, the rights of the federal government supercede. True up to a point. The constitution implies that all rights not specifically assisgned to the federal government are ceded to the states. These rights include education, into which the federal government has insinuated itself to no end with NCLB. Even worse, the federal government has made demands without offering to fund this which makes for mayhem at the local level. Now I’m not certain that I agree with Govs. Jindal and Barbour to eschew the offer of Washington money when they are presiding over two of the most impoverished states in the union, but I kind of see their point that they will take this money and then find themselves enmeshed in a situation that they cannot fully fund. in the future. As for the 14th amendment, one of the commenters at the podcast stated that this protects us from the states. True in some ways. Too bad it doesn’t fully protect everyone equally., from all branches of the government.

  2. Hellooooo (oooooooooo)! Am I the only Confluencian fascinated by the implications of the 10th and 14th amendments, or what’s left of them? I’m getting lonely.

    • Mom says Patriot Act stripped son of due process
      Ashton Lundeby
      Posted: Apr. 29, 2009
      http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/5049867/

      “We have no rights under the Patriot Act to even defend them, because the Patriot Act basically supersedes the Constitution,” she said. “It wasn’t intended to drag your barely 16-year-old, 120-pound son out in the middle of the night on a charge that we can’t even defend.”

      Passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., the Patriot Act allows federal agents to investigate suspected cases of terrorism swiftly to better protect the country. In part, it gives the federal government more latitude to search telephone records, e-mails and other records.

      No, I am interested in the 14th and the 5th and the Constitution especially after hearing about this kid and his mom not being able to defend him, nor protect his rights. I guess the assumption being that under the Patriot Act even ‘CITIZENS’ don’t have rights to due process.

      • The Patriot Act is an oxymoron. A true patriot should stand against it. In the early days of this act, there was the case of a man in Miami who picked up a newletter off of the table at a Starbucks and began to read it while sipping his coffee and was visited by the FBI>

        • Yikes…that is horrible. Maybe, they need to do some more investigative work and less ‘assumptive’ work. The latter is scary for me and for anyone that believes in Civil Liberties.

  3. No, I am too. But, I just got back from the doggy-emergency room and I’m still rattled.

  4. Barack Obama – the Habeas Debate Sept 27 2006

    Here Obama is advocating an amendment for Al Qaeda but his Administration (AG Eric Holder) isn’t giving this sixteen year old American kid due process.

    In the case of the 16 year old, I would say that both his states rights and constitutional rights have been violated. Funny, but I had given attention to the Patriot Act before, but had always assumed it to be for non-citizens. Now that it is being applied to non-citizens by Obama who said people should have due process (he was referring to Al Queda detainees) and now Obama/Holder are holding this American kid?!? Good Grief… 😦

  5. I’m more or less an old school, Hamiltonian federalist which is much, much different, IMO, then the ideology of the Federalist Society.

  6. http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/1556645,CST-NWS-watchcorner04.article#

    Off-topic, but Obama’s mentor Davis is under investigation. He’s one of the Rezko/Blag team.

    [excerpt] ” Davis has long been one of Mayor Daley’s top allies in Chicago’s African-American communities. He also was once the future President Obama’s boss at the Chicago law firm Davis Miner Barnhill.

    Last February, the Sun-Times reported that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed records from the Illinois Housing Development Authority on low-income housing projects built over the last 30 years by Davis, Rezko and William F. Cellini, an indicted Springfield businessman and longtime behind-the-scenes political power broker.

    In a separate investigation, Chicago’s inspector general is looking into why five city pension funds invested $68 million with a startup company owned by Davis and Daley nephew Robert Vanecko — deals first revealed in a September 2007 Sun-Times report.”

  7. .”.you may surprised to learn that federalism has many definintions…I” hope not since this concept and its discussion formed the basis of what turned out to be The Constitution…

    And rather than be subject to the interpretations of present day historians on a tape…I urge everyone to go to the source: The Federalist Papers to start with..
    and decide for yourself what you think it means and meant…and read The AntiFederalist Papers as well.

    The 18th century style of writing in periodic sentences may take some patience …but remember..this style and these essays appeared in regular newspapers of the day…

    Not exactly analagous to the superficial ease of blogging….but certainly worth more to personal knowledge of what exactly Barack Obama and his cronies are in fact dissembling before one’s eyes…The Republic and the structures that emanated from those who imagined this country.

    • Well, if you look at the evolution of the two principle writers of the Federalist Papers you’d note that they diverged significantly after the constitution was ratified. Alexander Hamilton–the most prolific writer of the FP–along with John Jay–a minor FP writer–were part of the “Federalist” party after the ratification (George Washington, though for many reasons claimed “nonpartisanship”, was much closer in tune with Hamilton). On the other hand, James Madison–who wrote a bit more than half as many FP articles as Hamilton–along with Thomas Jefferson were part of, for lack of a better term, the “anti-Federalist” party. Even within the early days of the U.S., there were significant constitutional disagreements.

      Many scholars trace the roots of the modern Democratic Party to Thomas Jefferson. That may very well be the case. However, if you look the policies and general philosophy espoused by the two groups, the Hamiltonian/Federalist faction appeared to be the more liberal faction who were against the notion of constitutional literalism and “states rights” as a weapon of discrimination. The Federalists faction was generally against slavery, and in fact many members gave some impassioned speeches against it.

      So, from the first days of the U.S., there has been different interpretations of what “federalism” means and how the constitution defines it. Really, the details of the debate about the constitution from the founders demonstrates that even the writers and ratifiers of the constitution had a quite diverse opinion on the matter.

    • Huh?
      I was referring to present day definitions of federalism.
      BTW, some of us *have* read the federalist papers once upon a time and didn’t find the language at all intimidating. You can drop the condescension. Thanks in advance.

  8. gomartinez: Precisely why reading the source materials was my point.

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