Akhil Amar, Constitutional Law, Jeffrey Toobin, Law Professors, New Yorker, Noah Feldman, Orrin Hatch, Politics, Quote of the Day, Sanford Levinson

We The People… Can Do Better?

It’s often noted that the United States is governed by the world’s oldest written constitution that is still in use. This is usually stated as praise, though most other products of the eighteenth century, like horse-borne travel and leech-based medical treatment, have been replaced by improved models.

Jeffrey Toobin, writing in the New Yorker about whether the current dysfunction of the federal government might be due, at least in part, to the Constitution.

(Additional notable quotes from his interesting article, after the jump.)

In the course of his reporting, Toobin spoke to several prominent law professors, politicians, and pundits. Here are six notable quotations from his piece.

“I came to see that the system just does not work anymore. The outputs fail. It’s not a government that can solve problems.”

Sanford Levinson, professor of law and government at the University of Texas.

“You’ve basically always had two parties in the country where one wants change and the other is more supportive of the status quo. The Senate is an institution that stops change. That’s how it’s designed, and that is always going to hurt that party that wants change, the activist party. Today, that’s the Democrats.”

Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard Law School.

“It’s difficult to think of our current federal government — so ubiquitous in our lives, with its tentacles into everything — as consistent with what we understand to be the real meaning of the Constitution. The system that the framers set up was a good one, but it’s not one we’re living under.”

Mark Levin, lawyer, radio show host, and author of Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America (affiliate link), among other books.

“It’s wonderful for them to be moaning and groaning. But it’s sour grapes. They started this crap.”

— Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), sharing his views on Democrats and the filibuster.

“I think this was a big victory for democracy. What we’ve done is return to what the Constitution says — that we operate around here by majority rule.”

— Senator Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), commenting on the Democrats’ recent filibuster reform aka use of the “nuclear option”.

“One half of one of our two great political parties has gone bonkers. That’s the problem. Not the Constitution.”

Akhil Reed Amar, professor of law at Yale Law School, blaming political dysfunction on politics, not the Constitution.

These are just highlights from Toobin’s long and thoughtful essay, which you can access in full via the link below.

UPDATE (12/5/2013, 11:15 a.m.): Jay Pinho offers some interesting analysis (and fact-checking) of Toobin’s piece over at the first casualty.

Our Broken Constitution [New Yorker (sub. req.)]

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