Economic Liberty and the Constitution


International Liberty

Two days ago, I wrote about how the Constitution was designed, in large part, to protect Americans from majoritarianism.

The Supreme Court is doing a reasonably good job of protecting some of our liberties (or, in the Heller case, restoring our liberties), but I point out in this clip from a recent interview that the Justices have failed to protect our property rights.

But since I’m now a lawyer, let’s focus instead on what legal scholars have written on this issue.

The late Professor Bernard Siegan authored a great book, Economic Liberties and the Constitution. If you care about these issues, you should buy it.

In the meantime, here are some excerpts from an article he wrote for Chapman Law Review.

The original Constitution of 1787 granted limited powers to each of the three branches of government… The federal government was limited in power so that it…

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One thought on “Economic Liberty and the Constitution

  1. Glenda T. Goode March 17, 2019 / 8:14 am

    Economic liberty reflects the freedom people have to prosper. It was one thing to protect the people’s rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness but quite another to allow them the freedom of business. European thinking at the time of the writing of the constitution ranked business as being subject to the permissions of the crown. This was tied to a crony system of who can and who cannot pursue a profit. In this way the rich tended to stay rich and the poor stayed poor.

    The founders saw the flaws in the economic reality that they had descended from and even in the remote colonies knew that truly successful enterprise needed dispensation from the crown in order to proceed. As a result they wanted to ‘liberate’ the citizenry from the limitations that were incumbent to being a subject of the crown.

    In creating liberty, the founders wanted to ensure its survival by both the articulation of the limited powers allowed to the government as well as empowering the people with the power of the voting booth in order to provide a means of selecting a leadership that reflected the desires of the populace.

    What I find interesting in the power of enfranchisement envisioned by our founders is that the voters enjoy the power of a true democracy at the local level but as we move upwards through the levels of government we see the rise of the representative republic as defined as a ‘federal’ style of governance. This system was designed to reduce the absolute power of a popular movement so as to ensure regional representation. The founders knew that in time, large population centers would develop that in terms of sheer numbers would overwhelm the rural voters and the states they resided in. By reserving a certain degree of electoral sway to the states the vote of the nation was weighted to a degree to allow the smaller states a voice in any national election.

    It is really a tragedy in the making if you look at the current movement to establish a popular vote for the presidency. Only a political entity that cannot carry the smaller states would propose such an action knowing the sheer numbers of voters within the urban areas would negate any power that their opponents have in the smaller more rural areas.

    If popular national elections come to pass there will be further attacks upon free enterprise with the ‘popular government’ enacting more and more regulations that will effectively stifle the ability of entrepreneurs will have to start new enterprise. The nature of a popular government is to constantly grow in size in order to perpetuate its power and control.

    Of all the gifts our founders endowed us with the ‘firewalls’ against excessive government were the most important and sadly we see these barriers being torn down a piece at a time as the deep state seeks to gain complete control over society. With a popular vote the power of the overreaching federal government will infiltrate our lives all the way to the local level. That is the nature of corruption. To destroy and to occupy all spaces of political power.

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