“We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century” by Erwin Chemerinsky— A Progressive Guide

Chemerinsky, Erwin. “We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century”, Picador 2018.

A Progressive Guide

Amos Lassen

How many of us know what the Bill of Rights of this country says? I am quite sure that the number is quite high especially among Republicans (or so it seems).

“We the People” is a progressive guide to recognizing and understanding the power and promise of the Preamble and the Constitution to protect and defend our individual human rights and liberties against the conservative assault on our founding text. If we ever needed to understand this, the time is now. University of California Berkeley Dean and respected legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky shows us with expertise and finesse how conservatives are using the Constitution to advance their own agenda especially with regards to favoring business over consumers and employers, and government power over individual rights.

We must understand that exposure is not enough. “Progressives have spent too much of the last forty-five years trying to preserve the legacy of the Warren Court’s most important rulings and reacting to the Republican-dominated Supreme Courts by criticizing their erosion of rights but have not yet developed a progressive vision for the Constitution itself.” Looking at the promise of liberty and justice for in the Preamble we see that it is necessary to read the Constitution progressively and see that the it can lead us forward in the fight (that need not be) ensuring democratic rule, effective government, justice, liberty, and equality. To make it easy to do this, the book contains the Complete Constitution and Amendments of this country.

Author Chemerinsky in his various chapter shows us the false claim of the conservatives regarding value-neutral judging and then takes us through a progressive reading of the Constitution looking at what it says and the misinterpretations that have come out of it.

The liberals in this country have been devastated by the Trump presidency and many of us are afraid of what can happen with the xenophobic policies on immigration. We have seen how the Trump administration has legitimized racism whereas since 1930, every president that came before him denounced Nazism and white supremacy. We also need to consider what this presidency can mean for the future of both the Constitution and the Supreme Court. That we now have a conservative majority on the court for the first time since the end of the Warren Court and it will be with us for many years to come since the appointment of a Supreme Court justice is for life. We still have two justices who are nearing eighty-years-old and if another retires…..

We now need to develop and defend a progressive vision for the Constitution of this country. Today we have a president who is not committed to the values of the equality of racial minorities, of sexual minorities, of the poor and of the immigrant. The Supreme Court will also likely be hostile to these groups.

This is not permanent and like everything else it will change but for now we must find a way to make things work. We MUST focus on every elected official in the government of this country and since they have all taken oaths to defend the Constitution they must understand what it says and means.

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