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Amendments Debate Flares

Publication Date: 
August 22, 2010
Charleston Gazette
Kathleen Hennessey

Dean Larry Kramer, author of The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review is quoted on constitutional law and the Tea Party political movement. Kathleen Hennessey filed this story with the Charleston Gazette:

When Republican leaders in Congress started talking about revisiting the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the United States, the discussion appeared to many to be election-season maneuvering.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was hearing from constituents who wanted Republicans to take a tough stance against illegal immigration. GOP House Leader John A. Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a congressional hearing on the matter.


"The intellectual positions are not new. What's new is there's a nascent political movement willing to take these up contrary to settled law," said Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer, author of "The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review." "But one of the great things about constitutional law is nothing is ever settled."


"Turning [Senate elections] back over to state legislatures, it is an anti-democratic movement, which is really unusual in politics," said Stanford's Kramer.


The problem with cleaving to the Founding Fathers' approach, Kramer said, was that so many of their best-laid plans went awry.

"Really, nearly all their major assumptions were wrong," he said. "The separation of powers didn't work the way they thought it would. The assumptions about federalism didn't pan out," he said, forcing pragmatic adaptations.