Saturday, June 28, 2008

Olbermann's Constitutional Unoriginalism.

The worst journalist in the world weighed in the other day on Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia won the "worst person in the world" honor on Keith Olbermann's joke of a news show. What was Scalia's offense? Upholding the right of Americans to keep and bear arms. You know, the one that's right there in the Second Amendment.

It's inevitable in arguments over the meaning of the Second Amendment that the person who wants to disarm Americans will mock "original intent" or "strict construction" by saying something like what Olbermann says in his rant about Scalia:
"Despite years of fog created by the NRA and right-wing organizations, that isn‘t very complicated; for the purposes of forming a state militia, you‘re entitled to keep and bear arms. Obviously, those would have to be the kind of use in arms since 1791, when the Bill of Rights was passed, the musket, the wheel-lock, the flint lock, the 13th century Chinese hand canon. Stuff like that." (Here, scroll down.)
Of course, Olbermann's point is a stupid one.

Americans' right to travel embedded in the Privileges and Immunities Clause (here) is not limited to interstate travel on foot, horseback, carriage, or sailboat. Americans' right to petition their government for redress of grievances is not limited to sending notes by messenger to their elected representatives. The United States Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce is not limited to goods that travel by wagon, barge, or sailboat. Finally, Americans' freedom of speech is not limited to publishing pamphlets on hand-operated printing presses or standing on a soapbox in a local park and ranting at passersby. Although come to think of it, Olbermann's phony news show, and especially his very special comments, are the television equivalents of a crazy person standing on a soapbox in a local park ranting at passersby.

Today's worst constitutional scholar in the world: Keith Olbermann.


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