Constitutional Longevity. Was Religiosity...

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Mon Jun 15 04:58:26 PDT 1998

Therea re some inaccuracies here. Before the civil war, the US was an agrarian republic, not a capitalistr state dominated by corporations. The Supreme Court before the war was a far more limited institution, having used uits power to invalidate a federal law exactly twice in the anre-bellum period (Marbury and Dred Scott). In that period the Court was hardly a recationary institution as it became under the Lochner-era leadership, with aggressive use of the 14th Amendment to attack progressive-era state legislation.

Checks and abalances and seperation of powers are doctrines that apply within the relation of the branches of the federal government. Far from being a natioanl rerligion I do not think they were particularly important until the 'teens, when the rise of the administrative state began to raise questions that involved them. And they are not reactioonary doctrines, or even particularly conservative.


On Mon, 15 Jun 1998 Dhlazare at wrote:

> The Constitution changed as a consequence of the Civil War, yet didn't change.
> The slave system was eradicated, the untrammeled sweep of big capital was
> assured, and national unity was guaranteed. Otherwise, once Reconstruction
> was jettisoned, the postwar period very much represented a reversion to the
> status quo ante. States' rights were once more in the ascendant, checks and
> balances and separation of powers etc. were once more the national religion.
> No const'l amendments were adopted between 1870 and 1913, and the Supreme
> Court assumed its historic role as guardian of the most outmoded
> constitutional values. The Civil War amendments were meanwhile gutted.
> Despite the 13th amendment abolishing slavery, blacks were thrust back into a
> state of slave-like peonage. The civil rights protected by the 14th amendment
> were whittled down to next to nothing. Despite the 15th amendment
> guaranteeing the right to vote, blacks were disenfranchised en masse. Rather
> than discontinuity, this suggests a massive effort at putting continuity back
> together. The effort was so successful that most people forgot that any break
> occurred.

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