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Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence (American Ideals & Institutions) Hardcover – January 1, 2009
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Unlike other commentators on judicial tyranny, Watson shows how the roots of extra-constitutional judicial activism lie in the infiltration of America by alien progressivist philosophies during the late nineteenth century, and he shows how those ideas have inexorably developed in our jurisprudence since that time.
As Watson explains, the Founders had great faith in both revealed and rational truths that transcended time and place. They understood the Constitution to be a limited document that was consonant with, and supported, the morally ordered universe of human affairs. Today's view, in contrast, is not simply that we have an interpretable Constitution, but that we have a Constitution which must be interpreted in light of "historically situated," continually evolving notions of the individual, the state, and society. This understanding is in a considerable amount of tension with the earlier constitutionalism of limited and dispersed powers serving the "laws of nature and nature's God." Yet this modern "evolutionary" approach to the Constitution has been embraced by the judicial appointees of both Democratic and Republican presidents for a century or more.Read more ›
watson states that "One can find universals, liberals principle embedded thoughout founders of the USA, an one find geninely conservative principles." What he does not note is that the former are palsied versions of the former.
On . p. 81, Watson showed how the natural rights theory of Locke
to the economic liberalism of Adam Smith, to the utilitarianism of Bentham, and the move from individualist to collectivist liberalism.
He quoted Woodrow Wilson as saying : "there is no danger in power, if only it is not irresponsible". The rest of the 20th and 21st centure has refuted our most idealist President.
He seems to approve of the thought of William James, that "if God works for us--if religious belief is effective in guiding our action
giving us comfort-then pragmatism can't deny it." But of course, the retort to all pragmatists is, including Pontius Pilate is, ' is it true or not.
With those caveats, the rest of the book is fine.