tv National Constitution Center Freedom Day Celebration Part 2 CSPAN June 1, 2017 8:01pm-9:42pm EDT
college campuses. we start with a discussion about modern politics and how one of the founding fathers might be the government and media today. this is about an hour and 45 minutes. >> ladies and gentlemen welcome back to freedom day. a round of applause for the next phase of this incredible discussion.
we have discussed the media, the judiciary, and now it's time to discuss congress set of my article one of the constitution. joining us are two of america's congress,holars on nicky edwards. he is a former congressman from oklahoma, and he is author of "the parties versus the people: how to turn republicans and democrats into americans." , co-author of a book that will set up the tone of our discussion. the other ones were too optimistic. "the broken branch: how congress is feeling america and how to get it back on track." please do me in welcoming mickey edwards in norm orstein.
welcome. >> thank you. >> norm, you have a striking title of a book that was quite a runaway hit when it came out, "the broken branch." our topic is, what would madison have thought of our current congress and what can we do? madison feared congress as the most dangerous branch. he said in "federalist 48," the department is extending the spirit of its activity and drawing power into its impetuous vortex" what was it that madison feared about congress, how did he design congress to alleviate those fears? >> every day we worry about the impetuous vortex. [laughter] >> i certainly do. >> some way to set the tone, i would refer to the title of the book that follows, "it's even worse than it looks." [laughter]
its successor, "it is even worse than it was." that was last year. >> the next one will really get -- be a downer. [laughter] >> before we are done and will plug the next book out in september. >> you ain't seen nothing yet. [laughter] go lie down, it will run over your life. [laughter] "one nation after trump: a guide for the perplexed, disillusioned, the desperate and not yet supported." [laughter] >> on a non-partisan basis. >> he will give you a clue to where we are coming from. madison did think a lot about what to do with congress, absolutely. before we had a congress, he wanted to have a stronger congress that he had seen the legislative branch under the articles of confederation.
but he worried you could have a small chamber that would these power and would have its tentacles everywhere, a little bit like those machines in the with younger reads -- they areves where constantly seeking to do damage. they would move in and do damage to the executive and judicial branch, and that it could bring about the tyranny of the majority, the small group. he wanted to be sure that you had not just a separation of powers, but checks on the tower of the legislative branch, and checks and balances within the branch. and a lot of discussion over how you do that within the institution more broadly and counter posing the house against the senate. >> mickey, tell us more about those madisonian checks that he
instituted to constrained congressional tyranny, and why was he confident we could constrain congress? >> madison first of all believed the people who had to some degree of power, position, would have and if it is to hold onto that, to keep the strength and that they were going to be the direct representatives of the people themselves. one of the most important parts of the constitution being at -- that every senator and representative must be actual inhabitant of the state from which they are collected. they are intended to be the voice of the people, that he thinks they should just obey the that people. -- just obey the people. he imagined that people in congress would be jealous of their pride of their prerogative, that they would understand the prerogatives. checks and balances was his key
thing, separation of powers. he thought there be a check on the executive. what happened is you have members of congress today -- norm talked about how it was worse than it could be -- the problem is you have members of congress who don't understand what their authority is. talk about a oversight. i was speaking to a group of top level house and senate staffers who were complaining because trying to get information from the executive branch, they were filing freedom of information act requests. john dingell's never would've filed the request. he would've said get your tail down here in the -- or pay the price would i think madison envisioned a congress that was familiar with the constitutional obligation that they had to make sure the people were left in charge of their government's decision.
we saw in the previous discussions. you've been asking, what would madison think about this? madison would look at the congress today and i think he would be appalled by how wrong he was in trying to imagine what people would be like this far in the future. >> norm, i want to dig into the this function of take congress today. take us through the constitutional instructional changes of congress's madison wrote. the original first amendment to the constitution, which you can hall, thereummer's should be one representative in commerce for every 30,000 inhabitants. they were the 4000 commerce people today. madison thought the kind of representation was important. that,he have in mind with and talk about the other changes including the direct elections
of senators, the 17th amendment, ranging up to the decline of the filibuster from last week. help us understand the evolution. >> it's important to remember madison had a whole set of different balances in his mind as he thought about this. he wanted to have a congress that would check potentially an executive who might become a dictator. he wanted to make sure congress did not basically moved in and run everything. he wanted to make sure congress was close to the people. originally he talked to the house of representatives about members small group -- would represent. they talk about having a one-year term. madison also wanted to have a recall provision just in case you we know how obsessed they were about tyranny of the majority as well. part of the balance was to create a senate that would not be direct we elected, that would be as we now know from the very
famous and overused discussion where jefferson talked about the saucer cooling the hot passions of the people. something that was a little removed and would be there to check the house as well. i would mention a few things that i find especially troubling as we look through the time that has passed. remember, this was not simply madison's vision. it was a whole set of compromises. large states and small states and trying to get enough support to you can actually get a constitution with support and the convention and that have support in the public as a whole. it was keeping states together. only dot it now and not you have a congress for people represent well over 600,000 or 700,000 people, and sometimes as many as one million people, but
you also have the senate. if you look at the vision when the constitution was created, the difference in population between the smallest states and the largest states was a tiny fraction of what we have now. of course you are going to have more power there that would go to smaller states where you get to senators -- two senators, the same as larger states. but if you have a population gap that is 60 or 70 to one, electoral college and balance aside, you are getting the senate where more and more power goes to smaller states. what we see in the modern era is the smaller states are more homogeneous and more white, and more rural in a country that is becoming more diverse, more heterogeneous, and more oriented towards urban areas.
you are out of sync in many ways with the population as a whole. and how you do without that a significant constitutional change, i'm not sure. startedame time, if he to make the house larger, which would bring members presumably closer to the people, you take away from what i see as the fundamentals of our system compared to a parliamentary system. and the word congress was chosen deliberately instead of parliament. congress coming from the latin meaning "to come together," parliament coming from french meaning "to speak." in the parliamentary system you have a government, and that parliament through its majority party passes the policy. then the parties argue, question. you have all seen. they talk. ours was supposed to be bringing
people together face to face where they would debate and deliberate and organically develop a larger sense of what might be good for the country. now for a whole set of reasons, including airplane travel, campaign finance, and so many areas, they are not the -- debating and the liberating. -- the liberating. now because the natural sorting combined with the redistricting process for people represent a chambers in homogeneous areas. what i see in the house, the larger problems that mickey has talked about so eloquently that will get to his people talking past one another. there is not debate. even in the senate which is supposed to be a great chamber of deliberation, that's gone. -- that's farcical. a lot of what i think madison had in mind has not worked quite
the way we wanted it to. we have to think seriously if there are ways to bring it back. the questions of whether the congress is acting as an independent branch aside. >> fascinating. the discussion of the importance of the liberation and debate that up you to fully , eloquent discussion of the last panel or the judges talked about the importance of sitting down respectfully and the liberating with each otherr mickey your program which brings , together state and local elected officials around a common table begins with a serious readings about the difference between populism and constitutionalism. we read federalist 10, and for -- we read the ancient greek's and we read sycario. and what youer
think in congress this ideal of madisonian deliberation has eroded? >> first of all, one of the things that has happened in the last couple of decades is that members of congress don't have personal relationships anymore. the work in washington is very short. you like your district constantly so you can raise money or help raise money for other people belong to your political club, which is all parties are. because of that it is really hard to sit down and do with the -- what they do. they have none each other. what one member of congress knows about another member of congress, is that they belong to the enemy team. that has of the bearing on what is changed in the interim. i think there are others. i think today most members of congress are so driven by the systems we have put in place
about how you get elected -- in my book a talk about sore loser laws which most people don't know about. thataws in 46 states mean the hard-core most ideological, most partisan can control who has access to the ballot. as norman mentioned, redistricting. asis not as big a problem some people think because it does not affect the senate or it i have not noticed the united states senate to be any great improvement over the house. we'll is considered the senate the lower house anyway. but what happened is that -- you could just see this right now with judge gorsuch becoming justice gorsuch. in the process. before that merrick garland being ignored. you know this very well. was confirmedter
unanimously very william douglas was confirmed unanimously because you are looking at his government, his reasoning, education, experience or it not which club do you belong to? we are so driven now bipartisanship and the little alsoreements with -- it is fox news, msnbc, and it's the way the primaries are. we have really driven ourselves -- we have become a divided nation. this is not just members of congress who are divided and will talk to people on the other side of the aisle. it's the nation. it's much worse -- it's not polarization, it partisanship. that is something much worse and -- than madison would've ever anticipated. >> to play off the provocative point, is it right that medicine would be surprised after all
that the election of 1800 raw political parties he did not anticipate? so extreme that the outgoing federalist reduced the size of the supreme court to deny jeffersonians to make supreme court justices. isn't that much worse, and if it is, do people geographically segregate themselves and to echo chambers, or are there other causes? >> there are many of them here it mickey calls it partisanship, i call it partisan tribalism. the reality is tribalism has not been unknown to america through its history. it was there in many ways at the beginning. and the sense of punishing enemies and pitting one side against each other and stretching rules to the limit were there. mostly that was when we didn't have rules and we were establishing them. i think it medicine had time to -- madison had time to study where we have gone and where we are, would have hoped that we would transcend some of those things.
he didn't think there were be political parties but he knew there would be factions and he wanted to make sure that they control ambitions and control those factions. the debate and deliberation was supposed to be where you could see people coming from different backgrounds, and after you spent time talking back and forth, you can appreciate where they were coming from. and after a period of extended debate, if you had an outcome which would be a broad leadership consensus -- this is where the wonderful daniel patrick moynihan was on target in talking about how we don't make social policy without broad leadership consensus and by persons consensus. if you lost, you would still say, i had a chance to get my view point across. now that is policy, let's try to make it better. i think he would be appalled at
the fact that 240 years later we were more immature than a lot of people were at the beginning, and worrying how we get out of it. the big sword is a significant problem. it's not the only problem. mickey's right, redistricting doesn't apply to the senate. the fact is, you've got a lot of states that are quite heterogeneous and diverse. and you do have a difference in the senate -- for example the , immigration bill back during the obama term the past the senate with a broad bipartisan vote that couldn't even come up in the house of representatives. but the tribalism has taken over in the senate. think what madison also knew was that you can set up a system of the constitution with laws, with rules, but norms
drive it. they're like the endoskeleton of the system. if you don't have the norms, the whole process begins to erode and fall apart. what i see is a combination of tribal media as a have emerged, and social media magnifying all of that, and leaders who have lost sight of the larger purpose of what they are doing, who have allowed those norms to disappear. " tom androken branch, wrote about that phrase, "the regular order." that is an important part of what congress does. nikki was a champion of the -- mickey was a champion of the regular order. that's when he -- when he was in the minority, for whatever set of reasons, it was mostly because of his reverence for the system and the institutions. that has gone by the boards now. we have seen it over many years.
the filibuster -- the role was that -- the rule was in place from 1975-2013. the institution didn't fall apart for 35 years. in fact, the norms that operated were such that you could argue that having the threat of a higher threshold was an incentive for leaders to work across party lines. when you have a leader who says never mind that, i will use him for everything as a weapon of mass destruction, then it falls apart. i think all of that would leave madison quite distressed. >> mickey, i hear norm saying that the problem is partisan tribalism. the symptoms are in inability of congress to deliberate and function. as a result it is not exercising its constitutional role. it is refusing to declare war -- or invoke war powers resolution. delegatedocated --
mass amounts of responsibility to the executive branch that someone say is unconstitutional. is that diagnosis right? you recently expressed sympathy for the freedom caucus for at least trying to check the president. is that what congress is supposed to do and shouldn't do more of that? >> i was not endorsing their position on the legislation. what i was saying is the freedom caucus was basically saying to the president what i wished paul ryan would say, which is we don't work for you. you are not the boss. you are a separate branch even -- branch. that didn't happen. i want to address one thing about factions. there were parties and factions during madison's time but they were not the same. they would come together on the issue or that issue. you're the mercantiles, the people who for tariffs, whatever, and they will be together -- but it wasn't all the time. you have now and you can see it, whether it is supreme court nominations are a health care
bill or whatever -- all the democrats are supposed to be on one side, all republicans on the other. nancy pelosi was not speaker of the house, she was the speaker of the democratic party. paul ryan is not speaker of the house, he's the speaker of the republican party. that has become a large part of the problem. there is very little looking at the substance, the merits of the issue on the table, as much as you are looking at which party is bringing it forward. if you try to stand up and say, i happen on the merits to agree with the position that the other party has brought up you will , get killed in a primary to -- so much of the problem is systemic. it's the election system we have created. it is all the other facets of it. it's the incentive system, the reward system. when you reward is what you get what you punish is what you , don't get. we have created a system, we, we created a system, in which we
reward those people who stand firm on principle, never compromise. we punish those who say, i will sit down and try to work out a common solution. that's why we have the problem we have got. >> respond to norman. this commission you have agreed to join -- we're all here to launch, is co-chaired by these bipartisan coalition, mike lee and chris coons, the disgraced -- they disagree strongly about politics but are united by their devotion to constitutional checks on executive authority and congress exercising its constitutional role. our job is to identify them, the solutions that could respond to the big story and resurrect madison. >> i sure hope so. i wish i could be more optimistic. thank you for creating this opportunity which is really important. one of my heroes in congress was the late bill frontal for minnesota.
for many years when he was in congress, and after he left congress he state a hero because he was one of the first members of the independent office of congressional ethics, and that was a thankless task, but he did it because he loved and care for the institution and the constitution. bill and his wife used to address the incoming freshman classes for a couple of decades. the pitch from bill was, this is the greatest experience and greatest honor you could ever have. the number of people who have actually been elected to the house of representatives over the long arc of american history is a tiny fraction, a drop in the ocean of all the people in this country. you are going to be a part of this great institution. a part of it was, bring their families to washington so they can be a part of this great experience. and then it faded away, frankly after newt became speaker and
basically told his members, this is a leper colony. you are here to clean up the leper colony but don't get leprosy and don't have your children get it either. keep them away from here. and it created a sense of antipathy towards the institution. members came in not believing there were part of something bigger than themselves. if there was anything bigger than themselves it was the crusade to blow up government as we know it. now it's between even higher level. i have been around washington for 48 years, i have known a lot of members congress. i knew a lot in the first 20 or 25 years i was there, who cared about the institution. devoted themselves to making it better. with a lit political scientist called -- don matthews called, institutional maintenance or institutional patriotism. the number of members now who care about their own institution is a tiny, tiny fraction of all who are there.
they are there because it is a vehicle to a competent other things, whether it is their own ursuline visions or a narrow set of ideological goals. if that's what you have, the notion that you will do oversight of legislative accomplishments to make sure there are carried out by the executive the way they're supposed to, that you will monitor your own internal ethics >> we saw an effort to blow up the independent ethics process that you will be a check on the , president and his people, including for the nomination and confirmation process in the senate. or if you have evidence of a cleptocracy developing in the white house or executive branch, or if you have misdeeds conducted by the executive and foreign policy or elsewhere. there is concern about those things. that is really troubling. it got at least a few people,
some of them former members, some of them -- just in the mash -- justin amash, who is been heroic in terms of his willingness to take on his own party's president is an outlier within his own party, a real outlier. where are we going to find others? >> mickey, last word to you. is it the constitution that will unite both sides? we have downstairs this incredible proclamation of war from james polk about mexico. polk says that mexican troops have crossed the border, therefore he is allowed to respond without congressional authorization. a young whig congressman abraham lincoln said, show me the spot where mexican troops crossed the border, because without that spot you have no constitutional authority to act. do we have congress people -- i can imagine them making constitutional arguments. what institutional changes would you suggest that would allow the
constitutionalism in the >> what your fellow brits bernard crick wrote a book called, in defense of politics, where he argued that politics is the way of free people govern themselves. it was a great calling. today, the idea of politics is a great calling has disappeared. people in the audience too. people who watch msnbc and fox -- it is not about politics now, it's about outcomes. it is not about process. what james madison was about was process, the constitution is about that too. it's a deliberative way in which we solve our problems together as a people. more and more in our society now, we have a sense that -- this came up earlier when we were talking about -- the left now is suddenly against big government, they want states to
make their own decisions. it's about what outcome are you trying to get? the idea -- he mentioned it, regular order, the way the congress could do about -- you have to go back to a system where you make your decisions not from the top down, not based on your party ideology, but let's sit down, look at what the arguments are coming to vote passionate and dispassionate interests and this interests, and talk together about what is the problem, what are the solutions, which ones make sense. but you have to have public support for that. the more the public is demanding the outcome they once rather than a thoughtful response of reasoning system of government, we are not to get it. >> i know we are over jeff, but a couple points. the first is -- it's worse than it looks. we have parliamentary parties now operating in a fashion that
does not fit our constitution. it is better enough when you -- bad enough when you have one party having control of all the machinery. if you have things with one party alone, have the country will see the outcomes as illegitimate. when you have divided government you could end up with an inability to act. the second point which will make our last speaker, george will, have apoplexy, if you go back 30 years -- it's a cliche but it's true -- you have people in a community who have done important things. they were lawyers, teachers, people who worked in different aspects of the community. community leaders might go to them and say, we have watched you for a while, you have a great reputation. now it's time for public service and we will help you get into congress. you have people who were there for the right reasons. imagine doing that now, you'll
go to somebody and say, i have watched you do these incredible things, you have been an feature in the community. we want you to run for congress. here's what's going to happen. [laughter] here is what is going to happen. from the day you agree to do this, he will be spending 70% of the time raising money so you can use it to run against your opponent, shred the reputation that your opponent has developed which is why he is running, and your campaign advisers will dance a jig if your opponents children's come home from school crying saying, i didn't know daddy or mommy was so awful and i can't go back to school again. then if you are lucky in this course and culture, you will get elected. once you get elected, you will be spending 70% of your time running off the campus of the capital to go to designated places where you can do call time to raise money for yourself
and for your tribe trade also now because you have to get insurance and some anonymous outside group decides to in the last weeks of the campaign with $10 million against you, you had better raise that money, find a sugar daddy, or have a bank to make it work. 50% of the time when you're not doing that or running to the airport to go back home, you won't be doing anything to solve policy problems anyhow. >> this is discouraging. [laughter] i want to take an aspirin. -- america: -- a miracle we have a number of fine people who are in it for the right reasons, but these are also things that i believe would have medicine saying, oh my god what happened? >> mickey, give us hope.
[laughter] norm reminding us that it's 10 times worse than you thought it was before. educating us and giving us a great agenda for the next two years. ourse join me in thanking guests. [applause] very depressing. one more panel than an incredible keynote address. got a sneak preview of the address from george will. now it's time to talk about the presidency. we have a remarkable group to talk about the presidency. we will begin our discussion. i can do this without notes. they are susan herman the president of the aclu, john malcolm of the heritage foundation, and john harrison -- of the university of virginia law school. each of them will bring an extraordinary perspective to this crucial discussion. please welcome them. [applause]
welcome. great to see you. so glad you are here. john, you are a preeminent scholar of james madison who we just learned on the last panel, beard -- feared congress more than the presidency. after other an american powers. why was madison afraid of the presidency and what was his vision of what the presidency would achieve? >> great question. one of the problems in dealing with anyone who is both a theorist and politician, and madison is both, is trying to sort out the theoretical reasons he gave and political considerations he had in mind. it's true that at the federal convention madison was strongly
in favor of a powerful presidency in the sense of having more power in the presidency than in the senate. once the senate was going to be elected from states, small states would be overrepresented. did madison theoretically believe that single individuals should be in charge of foreign affairs, military affairs, because one person can make decisions more quickly and rationally than a collective body can or did he support presidential power because he figured, virginia was likely to dominate the electoral college and a lot of presidents would be from virginia starting with president washington? his theoretical position both at the convention and the first congress was, unity in the executive is extremely important, that's why he was a supporter of presidential control executive branch and the first congress. he certainly spoke in favor of presidential control over the executive branch, which is different from having a position
the power of the government should be in general. he was what would today be called the support of the unitary presidency. again, the theoretical reason was, you cannot have an executive branch run by committee. again, how much or was he motivated by the theoretical consideration rather than practical politics? hard to say. my next book is on william howard taft. roosevelt said the president can do anything the constitution does not explicitly prohibit. was that an important turning point that took us away from the backupian convention
vention?on -- con >> at the time of the constitutional convention the country was in trouble. it had the articles of confederation with all -- for 11 years and it proved to be an abject failure. i had to do something, they were surrounded by hostile forces engaging and protection -- protectionists measures. they needed an executive. but they tried to limit that power. but, there has always been this tension. even george washington didn't consult with congress before issuing the neutrality proclamation, kept us out of a war between france and the british. thomas jefferson did not consult congress before testing the bounds of the treaty clause and before doubling the size of the united states with the louisiana purchase. he had abraham lincoln, refer to as the new dictator for suspending habeas corpus, issuing the emancipation proclamation, spending unauthorized funds to increase the size of the army and navy. other presidents have paid more
attention to constraint. for the most part, the general public tends to applaud presidents who test those boundaries and hold -- our leaders. if they don't act they are accused of being lame ducks, with the exception of richard nixon. every executive, though, where -- way to go. >> as john just said it is as ebbs and flows. the public is in favor of figures president to test boundaries. for a long time, progressives applauded franklin roosevelt and barack obama, who used executive orders to do some big things they couldn't do through congress. conservatives and republicans did things under george w. bush. now we are seeing both concerned, asking whether we have too much presidential power, executive orders being dangerous, and whether we need
to rein in the presidency. is that accurate, opportunistic, or just correct? is correct and madisonian. i think the whole idea -- it would depend on who the president says -- is. where we are is a neutral principles, a lot of the things in the constitution -- john harrison was describing the view that congress is a greater threat to liberty. one place where medicine made an exception to that view is for war powers. he said he was concerned that war powers of the darkness of the executive -- he says he's reacting. what he meant by that is that,
congress has to identify who the enemy is and set with the objectives are, then the president gets to decide on the strategy. we know it's been a long time since congress has declared war. sometimes congress has authorized the use of force, on many occasions there have been presidents with used force without waiting for congress to acquiesce. we have become accustomed -- congress has relegated itself to a backseat. structurally that's harmful. you were talking about madison as politician and dearest. as president madison was the first president to ask congress for permission for a declaration of four for the war of 1812. the aclu is nonpartisan, so we can legitimately claim that we are not only coming to this principle because of who is president now, we do think that president trump should be consulting with congress before invading syria. in the same way without barack obama should have been
consulting with congress before strikes in syria and iraq. i think this is enormously important. i don't think they are anything new, they were they -- they're from the beginning, but we have forgotten about them. thanks to the aclu for their consistency, which is impressive. thank's for mining us of these phrases, darkness, impetuous vortex. [laughter] john, the constitutionality of syria -- syrian intervention. both parties have engaged in military actions without congressional authorization. we just did a great podcast on monday at columbia law school about the constitutionality of the syrian invasion. constitutionally, did the president act within his authority or not? >> the reason i think that is a hard question, is because one of the large questions about the allocation of four powers
between the president and congress is, to what extent can congress give the president standing authorization to use force? as opposed to authorization with the one madison requested the start was called, the war of 1812. probably, congress can to some extent, authorize the president to use force and circumstances -- in circumstances without requiring a specific declaration of war. the next question is, to what extent did the statute that created the military, especially in light of decades of practice by presidents, of using armed
forces to advance what they think is for policy and, to what extent do the statutes constitute standing authorizations for the use of force? that's a difficult question. i'm not sure about this but i will propose one thing that is consistent with american history going back long way -- with the president is authorized to do is use military force without an episodic authorization, provided it is consistent with international law. that would explain why it was ok for president mckinley to say the united states will participate in the boxer rebellion which was consistent with international law at the time. the hard question about the use of force against syria -- provided it is consistent with international law, was that consistent with international law? quite possibly no. i do want to emphasize the number of steps necessary to get to that conclusion. i'm a law professor so i will be
legalistic here. i do think that kind of analysis is necessary. >> there's an elegant and once -- nuanced answer. it's a hard question. i would like you to turn to this broader question. you suggested that the imperial populist presidency has been supported by the people. you have heard all these discussions about new media technologies and a decline in institutions that have increased his populist pressures. do you believe the modern presidency has become too strong in light of these pressures? if so what can we do about it/ >> all start talking about war if so what can we do about it/ powers. there may be a good constitutional argument there, but it's late in the day. originally congress was given the power to make war. they changed that to declare war.
that was significant, the ability to declare war. ever since harry truman had a police action in korea, we have cambodia, granada, serbia. now syria. congress must stand up, they want to avoid political risks for monetary or security action. been on the public doesn't look to the to keep us safe. they also know that the public does not look to them to keep us safe. they would do is being hyper polarized, totally dysfunction al. they now look to the president to do this. congress has seated a lot of its power. so they will make these national security decisions.
the no longer think about institutional integrity. if the president is somebody up there partying, they will support the president, even if the president is encroaching on the constitutional prerogatives, the body in which they serve. they have created a bureaucracy, all sorts of executive branch agencies. they have ceded warmaking authority to all those executive branch agencies without pushing back. they are relying after the fact on oversight hearings which are totally insufficient, to get the job done. if you're going back to your madisonian vision he wanted , people who would be -- there have to have the constitutional tools to resort those sorts of challenges. over time, congress has been asleep at the switch.
the president certainly has an awful lot of power, maybe that's good maybe that's bad but they have to flex their muscle -- muscles to bring it back. >> we are getting to the solutions phase. asleep atard you been the switch. we have this populist presidency. what can americans due to rain in a presidency that seems to be more constrained? >> the principles, structures are there in the constitution. we don't have to make them up. i agree congress has been asleep at the switch. therefore any presidents have taken advantage of the idea that it's now their decision. the fact that congress has been abdicating for years doesn't -- make the ideals in the structure of the constitution wrong. madison has a lot to say about the problem of giving decisions
important as were powers, with who will make war against, assad, isis, what are our goals, for how long? you have a lot to say about the dangers, the unilateral decision. but the aclu is doing, we have talked to congress. i don't know how you get congress to shoulder that responsibility. they don't want to because they think it is unpopular. we go to the courts and have the courts either try to get congress do what they're supposed to be doing, or tell the president that they've gone too far and have violated rights, structures, etc.. the problem we've had come up we bring a lot of lawsuits since 9/11. what we have run into is the courts have abdicated -- the court's opinions about things like extraordinary rendition and other kinds of places where we try to sue federal agents for involvement -- or credible allegations of american
involvement in torture and rendition. the courts read opinions that run hundred pages going on and on. you can't possibly think -- local question states, secret published standing, immunities, actions -- to me it is as if the courts are doing this barricade so they don't even have to pay attention. what they think is a serious question is, to what extent do we think there should be judicial review? in another area, the supreme court's texas asserted president obama about whether or not the duck order was constitutional, the supreme court added whether president obama had been taking care, that the laws be faithfully executed. i wonder hypothetically, we don't have the present -- we hope obama -- president trump will report to congress about what is happening in syria. if he were not too, would we
went to see the courts entertain a challenge to say you have to enforce that resolution even if you don't agree. the constitutional structures there, we have divided war powers. congress declares war, the president as commander-in-chief. we also have the worst -- war powers resolution. >> so john, there's this important question on the table. have courts been too deferential to executive power, and could you imagine them becoming less so? he saw the response over the travel ban, which seemed not consistent with some of the old doctrine suggesting the president gets a huge amount of leeway when it comes to immigration. descriptively and as a scholar, can you imagine courts today checking presidential authority for exceeding its constitutional bounds and should they? >> i think for them to do that would require that they understand better some of the
things that might be misleading. for example, the political question doctrine is a principle that there are certain decisions to be made by a political branches respected by the courts. to some extent that is the case. the much harder question is, what limits does that impose on the situations in which courts can get involved, whether issues of private rights at stake? some of the lower courts have in my view, taken the political question principle to far and have forgotten that the point of the courts is in large measure to protect private rights. something that at the time of the framing was understood to be their function. i think what disturbs the courts, the possibility that if they are called upon to protect
private rights -- in the context of national security and military operations, they will be making national security and military policy. quite correctly they do not want to do that. it seems to me that the solution to that is to try to distinguish -- this will depend on it remedy the court asks for. whether it is a broad induction as to have to create a war as , opposed to damages for somebody who has been actually injured, which is in the 18th and 19th century, the court stated national security cases. think there is a role for them, they may have pulled back too far. but again, details matter. exactly how they did this, the kind of remedies they give, whether they are able to find a way to protect individual rights without themselves making policy, is a difficult but crucial question for them to get. >> john, that was great -- as
john said, national security is a tricky area. can and should the courts check the president domestically? there've been verizon they've done so, clinton index and impeachment traumas were one. now that we are seeing this new debate about excessive executive orders, power, can you imagine the courts checking the president and should that? >> i think they should. the courts are supposed to be the people who are separated -- primary instrument to protect all of our liberties. i am skeptical as to whether they will. the president now has this massive bureaucracy, the executive office of the president. they have the office of business budget, of information, regulatory affairs. they have this entire national security apparatus. it's a huge powerful thing that
the president has. the couple have stricken back against the president, recess point of case -- the nixon tapes case. they also suited the presidential power -- a decision which they upheld president roosevelt's executive order that interred 120,000 people of japanese descent. >> that pressure during the new deal with the president's court packing plan my mind, to access or at any meeting of the commerce clause in terms of limitation on congress and the president. there's much discussion during the gorsuch hearing. of course, the chevron doctrine chosen a credible on to difference to the interpretation of executive branch -- to my mind the job of justice -- judges, it's their duty to interpret the law as best they can. can they? yes. should they?
yes. will they? [laughter] i don't know. >> there many orders downstairs from earlier. including president roosevelt's order in turning japanese-americans. susan, we are beginning to ramp up trade you put on the table the possibility of judicial checks. are there other ones?\ congress passed several laws -- there's a call for congress to constrain surveillance. understanding dysfunctions pointed out, jubilee believe congress should reject the president and constitution? >> yes. it's not likely that congress will do the. say two things. there's important case tomorrow being heard enough in california
federal courts, which challenges the threat of the administration to be sanctuary jurisdictions. with think there's a serious issue under the 10th amendment, the federal government trying to pressure states into being federal enforcement agents in helping. i want to point out the james madison bedrock. madison believed the vertical checks and balances -- at least as important to check and balance. he was of course the author of the virginia resolution, where the state of virginia adopted this to protest the alien and sedition act of 1798. we shouldn't only think about the federal government, we should think about the states that we check as well. finally, the aclu has over one million new members since the election where they all want to do some a. [applause] they want to know what can they do. we started organization call people power.
it is training of people -- if you want to protest, here are your rights and responsibilities. you're concerned about this -- there are other places of abuse -- have used successfully. we are trying to use we the people. if i were going to propose solutions to the checks will come from and where nonpartisanship come from, we need more of the people, and exactly what the constitution center does is give education. there's not enough of that going on in schools. we should not be starting from results and reading them into the constitution. not everything is a political rorschach test. we need to start with, what is a neutral principle we can agree on? and as john said, argue but the gray areas. if we don't agree on what these neutral fundamental principles of the constitution -- and if more people do not learn them, i don't see any way out. [applause] >> thank you for that wonderful
plug for the constitution center. congratulations on your great success. we hope some of those new aclu members during the next out -- national constitution center. [laughter] and all c-span viewers as well. constitution center.org. it's the same reason this conversation has been so important, you need to educate yourself about the constitution. unless you understand what we're talking about, federalism, separation of powers, administrative state, vertical checks and balances, constitutional democracy defined as limited government and individual rights and the rule of law will not survive, and freedom, the purpose of the celebrate will atrophy. this has been a superb panel. i want you to join me now and thanking them. [applause]
>> ladies and gentlemen it's not time for our keynote address. our speaker needs a little introduction, except to say that george will is one of the leading public intellectuals of our time, who has shown by his writing and scholarship such a principal devotion to the principles of constitution liberty -- the great personal inconvenience he has supported the wishes of partisans on both sides of the aisle, and has steadfastly defended the principles of constitutional liberty. i can't think of anyone in america better able to encapsulate the tension that we have gathered today to examine. the difference between populism in madisonian deliberation. like all of the speakers in today's symposium, mr. wilkins
-- mr. will has come here to donate his time, because he is so devoted to this cause that he thinks is important to educate americans about the crucial tensions, the future of democracy. i am honored he has accepted our invitation. please join me in welcoming our keynote speaker, george well. george f. will. [applause] >> thank you jeffrey, for that overly kind introduction. not all forms of inflation are painful. [laughter] thank you for arranging to have this particularly timely meeting about this important subject. spring has sprung, baseball has begun.
the sap is rising, love is in the air, two words are millions of americans lips, chevron deference. [laughter] i exaggerate only somewhat. it is notable and i would argue healthy, that the language of the law particularly of constitutional law and aspects of the administrative state that are constitutionally problematic, is such a large part of today's political vocabulary. this after an election in which, according to one important exit poll 20% of voters, one in five, , cited the composition of the supreme court is a foremost concern. the questioning of such chevron deference reflects rising anxiety about this equilibrium among our madisonian institutions.
the anxiety arises from the swollen role of the presidencies and executive agencies, and the dereliction of judicial duty policing the boundaries of separation of powers. we are meeting this evening the national constitution center. in one of the world's great urban spaces, rich in historical resonance to consider the intersection of something old with something new. what is old is in madisonian constitution, created in this space. what is new is populism is a fighting faith, it is inimical to the madisonian project and to and indeed to constitutionalism generally. populism distilled to his essence is political philosophy distilled to simple majoritarianism. majorities are inherently virtuous, and virtuous or not, they should encounter minimal
institutional impediments to the swift translation of majority desires into public policies. the premise of the madisonian project is diametrically opposed to that. the premise is that in our republic majority rule is inevitable, but not inevitably reasonable or equitable. therefore, there must be an institutional architecture to refine the public will buy multiple filtrations to prevent impulsive politics. it is populist impulsivity that combined with a grotesquely swollen nature of the modern presidency, finds expression in watery anti-institutional caesar ism. a single individual proclaims, i
alone can fix it. madison said and i quote, although the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable. i will commit the impertinence of amending the great madison. he should have said the following, because the will of the majority is to prevail in all cases where the government acts, for that reason the scope of government action should be strictly circumscribed. because my argument is against majoritarianism, prevent me a brief merchant autobiographical digression. before i turned to journalism, or as my father and professor of philosophy said, before i sank to journalism... [laughter] i compared to be and briefly 's a professor of political philosophy.
after studying in england i've applied it to it established law school and to princeton's philosophy program. you can measure my seriousness by the fact that i chose princeton because it is midway between two national league cities. [laughter] one of which we are in. [laughter] were it not for baseball i would not be a lawyer. [laughter] however, lawyers dealing with constitutional law are doing political philosophy. it's an american paradox that our nation, which is philosophically disposed to wariness about government, the elaboration and application of the founders political philosophy is primarily done through and by a government institution, the supreme court. at the time of my princeton doctoral dissertation was beyond reach of majorities -- the title was beyond reach of majorities. some of you may recognize the language from justice jim robert
jackson's 1943 opinion in west virginia versus burnett, the second of the great flexibly -- flag salute cases. jackson wrote, the very purpose of a bill of rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitude of the folk -- political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. once right to life liberty and property, free speech or free press, freedom of four ship, and assembly and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote. they depend on the outcome of no elections. jackson was being faithful to the founders natural rights, rights pre-existing government.
-- the mostto important declaration of independence word, to secure those rights. government does not exist to give maximum scope to majorities. such is the one that connected west virginia's law, mandating flag salutes. i came by my wariness of majoritarianism growing up in central illinois, lincoln country. i lived in the twin cities of champagne and urbana, which are contiguous. champagne was essentially created by the illinois central railroad that did not like it's treatment by urbana. urbana is the county seat, and in the red sandstone courthouse, a prosperous railroad attorney from springfield did some business. this attorney, abraham lincoln, was in the courthouse when he learned of the and that meant of the kansas-nebraska act. it was lincoln's recoil against this act that ignited his ascent
to greatness. the act introduced by stephen a douglas, the illinois democrat, empowered the residents of those those territories, kansas and nebraska, to decide by voting whether or not to have the institution of slavery. the acts premise was that the principle of popular sovereignty is the essence of democracy. and, democracy is the essence of the american project. so, majority rule should be given maximum scope. lincoln disagreed. with controlled candy patience and implacable vehemence. the most luminous career in the history of american democracy to ok his bearings from the principle that there is more to the american purpose and to justice than majorities.
if justice is what copernicus said it was and faculty best socrates in book one of plato's republic, if justice is in the interest of the strong, then two things follow. first, lincoln was wrong. douglas was right in arguing that justice regarding slavery in the territories was whatever majorities in the territories wanted. the second conclusion that follows is that in democracy the essential machinery of justice is the adding machine. justice is known when the votes are tabulated,. lincoln knew better. today, simple majoritarianism finds its purest expression in the theory and practice of the plea be in presidency.
in randolph was not wrong in discerning the office of the presidency, defeatist of monarchy. this, you know the constitution is reticent about presidential duties be on conducting diplomacy, making appointments and nominations, commanding military forces as commerce creates, and taking care that was her faithfully executed. if george washington had not been waiting in the wings, the constitutional convention might have devised a different presidential office. and if virginia's presidential office would not -- ratifying convention has subject of the constitution as it nearly did, softworks of the presidential office would not have received washington's stamp, because he would not have been a citizen to the united states. jefferson discontinued the practice of presidents delivered in person, state of union addresses to congress. he considered the scene
monarchical, therefore offensive. today's spectacle state of the union addresses, with the two parties congressional delegations bringing a poor rush approval or pouting, we owe significantly to woodrow wilson who restarted the tradition of presidents delivering the state of the union addresses in person to congress. madison was so wary of presidential power and so committed to congressional supremacy and sovereignty, he discontinued the practice of his previous president, jefferson, of lobbying legislators over dinner.
medicines successor james monroe -- munro totally subscribe to the doctrine of congressional supremacy, and to the idea that presidents existed to execute the will of -- he was utterly silent as president on the burning issue of his day, the admission of maturity -- missouri to the union and the status of slavery in louisiana territory. however, in his 1933 inaugural address, franklin roosevelt called for a temporary departure from the normal balance between executive and legislative authority. 84 years later, the temporary departure has produced the following reality. visitors to utah, senator mckinley's office, see displayed two piles of paper. one is a few inches tall, it contains about 800 pages. it is all the laws congress passed in a particular year. the other pile is 11 feet tall. it contains 80,000 pages. those contain all the regulations proposed and adopted in one year by executive
agencies. logically, executive power is secondary. having as its defining duty, the execution of the results of legislature's primary power. until the late 1920's, the election of the president was doubly and direct. he was elected by presidential electors, who in turn were elected by the state legislators. madison warned in federalist 10, enlightened statesmen will not always be of the helm, but hamilton in federalist 60 it predicted the constant probability that the presidency being occupied the characters preeminent for ability and virtue. hamilton was assuming that people would have the virtue to appreciate virtue.
[laughter] that assumption is to say no assumption is to say no more, complicated by modern communications technologies, which have served the inflation of the presidency. in the summer of 1901, president mckinley of his canton ohio home was approached by a photographer. he site is cigar, saying, we must not let the amount of this country see their president smoking. good grief. [laughter] this was defeatist of the pernicious idea that presidents are and should be our moral tutors. him and theodore roosevelt, whose presidency was the fittest of the modern presidency, was the first president filmed by a movie camera. his cousin used radio to make the presidency intimate with the public. television is enslaved to cameras. they are superficial
newsgathering instruments, television needs something to point cameras at. television therefore needs presidents to simplify this need. twitter might have been invented for a who became president because he can say everything he knows about everything and 140 characters. [laughter] [applause] president grant had a staff of three. president cleveland answered the white house doorbell himself. soon there was an arms race, that the executive was bound to win. the political scientist james q wilson noticed institution in rivalrous relationships with each other, to resemble each other. wilson's dear friend and mine, patrivalrous relationships withn law of emulation.
he noted that in 1902, theodore roosevelt built the west wing of the white house. presidential staffs consisted of 3-4 people. they were in the white house living room. in 19 of three, the house of -- 1903 the house of representatives built its cell phone office building. the senate followed suit next year. the presidency would thrive as a rhetorical presidency. presidents would eclipse congress by being leaders. the term leader appears 12 times in the federalist papers. 11 times disparagingly. the founders believe that presidential appeals to the manipulation of public opinion, would be in anti-constitutional preemption of the liberating processes.
there was until this century a common law of presidential rhetoric. presidents spoke infrequently. washington averaged three public speeches here. adams, one. jefferson, five. medicine, president during a war -- madison, who is president during a war the burn down his house, gave none. until the 20th century, presidents communicated early with the legislature, not the people, and communicated in written messages suitable for deliberative reasoning. then, modern technologies have -- of transportation and indication give presidency capacities. woodrow wilson supplied a theory progressive and populist for using those capacities. presidents, he said, should engage in what he called, interpretation, meaning the discovery of what is in the hearts of the masses or what would be in their hearts if the
masses were sensible. [laughter] soon, presidents were everywhere, moving about bike where road and airplane. they were on the air the radio and television. america was on its way to today's notion of the president as, tribune of the people. constant auditory of the nations psyche, molder of public opinion. they hope of progressives was by making it popular, even charismatic president, the focus of the nation's political consciousness, the public would be content to be governed by detached, disinterested, and anonymous experts, who because they were obedient to presidents, would be cloaked in derivative democratic legitimacy. i have often thought that the most important 20th-century decision was about where to
locate princeton's graduate college. college is located where it is, away from the main campus, rather than on the main campus the university's president, where woodrow wilson, wanted to be. wilson, disappointed, had one of his tantrums, resigned from princeton, went into politics, and ruined the 20th century. [laughter] again, i simplify and exaggerate somewhat. wilson was the first president to criticize the american founding, which he did thoroughly. he rejected the essence of the founders philosophy, the doctrine of natural rights. and rejected the crux of the constitutional provision for protecting those rights. separation of powers. regarding natural rights, he urged americans not to read the declaration of independence
's first two paragraphs. he dismisses fourth of july. he understood that the natural rights doctrine entailed limited government. an idea he considered this an 18th-century anachronism. he considered the separation of powers intolerable in modern condition, which he thought demanded a large and nimble government responses to the presidents will. antonin scalia wrote, if you want aspirations you can read the declaration of independence. there is no such philosophizing in the constitution. which is a practical and pragmatic charter of government. i respectfully dissent. are we to conclude that philosophy is impractical and on
-- un-pragmatic. granted there is no philosophizing in the constitution until we put it there. but construing the constitution is a charter of government for a nation whose purpose is defined by the declaration. justice scalia said, the whole theory of democracy is that majority rules. that's the whole theory of it. well, if that is the whole theory of democracy, democratic theory is not very interesting. what then is interesting, is what should begin after this theory is accepted. what should begin his reflection about the institutional and cultural measures necessary to increase the likelihood that majorities will be reasonable. and about what things should be protected by a judiciary is beyond the reach of majorities. populism seeks to reverse this, given majority world priority over liberty.
and overwrites. -- over rights. and overdue process when the conflict with majority impulses. democracy in mistrust should always be graded. american constitutional lesson and judicial review amount to institutionalized distrust. the temperature of american politics is high today in part because of the stakes are high. we are not just arguing about the scope and competence of government, we are also arguing about which of two visions will prevail. that of james madison of 1771 or woodrow wilson in 1879. the essential drama of democracy
derives from the inherent tension between the natural rights of the individual and the constructed rights of the community to make such laws as the majority deems necessary. natural rights are affirmed by the constitution. majority rule circumscribed and modulated is constructed by the constitution. a declaration is not just chronologically prior to the constitution, it is logically prior. as timothy sandefur has written, the declaration is the constitution's conscience. the declaration sets the framework for reading the constitution. as abraham lincoln said, the constitution is the frame of silver for the apple of gold which is the declaration. silver is valuable and frames
serve an important function but gold is more valuable. it is therefore a matter of constitutionally important symbolism that the constitutional convention met in the room in which the declaration of independence was debated and endorsed. the constitution affected a course correction from the articles of confederation but did not effect a rupture with the nation's fundamental purpose and destiny. the constitution continues what the declaration began. it is not true that the majority is always wrong. it is true that the majority often is wrong and that the majority often has a right to
get its way even when wrong. the challenge which is especially difficult when populist fevers are raging is to determine the borders of that right and to have those borders policed by a non-majority institution, they judiciary. jefferson's first inaugural address he said, though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, it must be reasonable that the minority possess their equal rights which equal law must protect and to violate would be oppression. two years later, the cousin john marshall buttressed this principle. in marbury v madison, he established judicial review.
this practice exercised with vigor is a billboard against the essence of populism, the believe that the majority should have their way. alexander beckel preoccupied with the county majoritarian dilemma called the supreme court a deviant institution because with judicial review it circumscribes the right of majorities to have their way. judged on when it -- has a better understanding. he correctly says that the u.s. constitution is irrefutably framed in prescription, it declares an emphatic no. government undertakings even if majorities desire them. judicial review should annoy populists because it needs preventing any contemporary majority from overturning
yesterday super majority, the one that ratified the constitution. federal judges are accountable to know current constituency but when construing the constitution they are about to be faithful to the constituency of those who ratified it. this is how the constitution constitutes a polity. madison was born a subject of george the second. he died of citizen of the republic during the presidency of the first important populist andrew jackson. his only complaint against big government is that it is not throwing his weight around on their behalf should heed the words of jackson as he wrote in his greatest paper.
in his message explaining the veto of the reauthorization of the bank of the united states he wrote, if government would confine itself to equal protection and as heaven does the rains shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing, but it is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. just so, today's populace need to have a jacksonian epiphanny. they need to realize that big government, meaning the administrative state that permeates and micro manages american life, is inherently regressive. that is, it inevitably and constantly redistributes wealth upward. it is the wealthy, after all, the wealthy, the confident, the articulate, and the well
can understand the administrative states and can work its many gears and pulleys as they pursue their rent seeking. there is a reason why five of america's 10 richest counties surround washington like piglets around a lactating sow. [laughter] sentimentalists about democracy generally insist the inadequacies result because voters' views are sensible but ignored. it is, however, more often the case that democracy produces unfortunate results because voters' views are foolish but honored. often the problem is not that government is unresponsive but that it is too responsive. and usually, it responds not to majorities in any meaningful sense, but to small, compact,
intense, factions. am i too gloomy? well, the philosopher said, it is characteristic of political philosophers that they take a somber view of the human condition. they deal in darkness. madison certainly did. populists do not. the language of populism flatters its adherents. they are virtuous because they are many. because they are many, they are not of the elite. and all social problems are results of elite failures or connive anss. madison knew better. madison knew the question is never the -- whether elites shall govern, rather, it is which elites shall govern. so he knew the problem of democracy is to get consent to government by worthy elite.
progressives and the day's pop nite lass -- populace have more in common than either can acknowledge. to understand their similarities and shared aversion to madisonian principles, consider professor randy barnett's distinction between the republican constitution and the democratic constitution. the debate between the meaning of the first -- the debate concerns the meaning of the first three words of the constitution's preamble "we the people." those who embrace the democratic constitution believe that we the people is a collective entity. those who embrace the republican constitution think of we the people as individuals . the democratic constitution is a device for giving power and priority to the will of a collective, the majority of the people. any principle or practice such as judicial review that impedes
the swift, unmediated transmission of the will of the majority into policy is presumptively illegitimate. and the only individual rights that are legally enforcible are rights affirmed by the majority explicitly. in sharp contrast, the republican constitution is a device for limiting government. this includes limiting government's translation of majority desires into laws and policies when those conflict with the government's primary business of securing the natural rights of individuals. barnett believes that, today's politics -- those who favor the republican constitution take their bearings from john loch believing that individual liberty is america's principle. those who favor the democratic
constitution take their bearings from thomas hobbs, giving highest priority to government having sufficient power to pursue whatever social ends the majority desires, even if the rights of the individual must be abridged. progressives and populists think america's fundamental dedication is to a process, majority decision making. madisonians think america's fundamental dedication is to a condition, liberty. progressives and populists rally around the right of the majority to have its way. today's madisonians stress rigorous judicial protection of individual rights especially those of private property and the freedom of contract that define and protect the zone of sovereignty within which people are free to do as they please.
in his first inaugural, lincoln addressing himself to my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, expressed a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people. note the nuance. confidence must be patient because the justice of the people can be counted on only ultimately. populism does not deal in nuances. madison did and madisonians do. they know what happens only ultimately leaves a lot of time for institutions and processes to refine and, if necessary, to stymie the will of the majority. so, madison said, in republican government the majority, however composed, ultimately gives the law. in language strikingly similar to that which justice jackson used in the 20th century,
madison wrote, along with the principle of liberty, the constitution embodies the principle of self-restraint. a people of resolve to put certain rules out of the reach of temporary impulses, springing from passion or caprice, and to make the rules the permanent expression of their calm thought and deliberate purpose. i believe that madison, properly understood, is the founder of american conservativism, properly understood. and that populism is everything conservativism is not. you've heard quite enough from me. i am standing between you and the reception where there will be adult beverages. [laughter] and adult conversation, perhaps about, among other things, that interesting contemporary topic, deference.
thank you very much. [applause] >> you've just heard, ladies and gentlemen, from a prophet of constitutionalism. thank you so much, george will, for beautifully discussing the tension this commission has been created to discuss between populist majority and constitutionalist. george will quoted from thomas jefferson who said that to be rightful the majority rule must be reasonable. today is thomas jefferson's birthday. fred levy chose jefferson's birthday as freedom day. on this, our third annual freedom day, it's so important to remember jefferson's galvanizing words in his first
inaugural, we are all republicans. we are all federalists. and that is what we've learned during this commission today, that people of different parties -- republicans and democrats -- are ewing around this commitment -- uniting around this commitment to constitutionalism, which is a cause for hope. but we have much important work to do over the next two years together. this is my call to action to all of you. you have to educate yourself about these complicated historical press dents. we need to learn about the constitutional history and you need to go to the interactive constitution and choose a different clause every day and read it and learn the debates on both sides because there is much to learn. i'm a law professor and i do not know these clauses as i should and you need to know them as well. then you need to go and you need to read books about history, listen to podcasts. you need to think hard about the cultural and institutional changes that are undermining
the foundations of our constitutional democracy and then we will reconvene through the course of the next years and we will continue to debate and then we will publish our findings and we will, together, preserve the beautiful document that unites us. ladies and gentlemen, it is so meaningful, such an honor that this extraordinary group of thought leaders of such different perspective has united here today for this period, this afternoon and evening of conversation. it does show us civil dialogue from people who disagree discussing constitutional values face to face is the essence of what unites us as americans and together we can preserve the beautiful constitution of the united states of america. thank you so much. [applause]
xxx >> c-span's "washington journal" live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up friday morning, columnist and radio show hosts from around the country share their thoughts on president trump's term to date and the 115th congress. we'll also get your reaction. join the conversation with your phone calls, e-mails, facebook comments, and tweets. be sure to watch c-span's "washington journal" live at 7:00 a.m. eastern sunday morning. join the discussion. this afternoon president trump announced the united states would withdraw from the paris climate accord and looked to renegotiate the agreement. it aimed to prevent the global temperature from rising by two