by the federal government, rendered property insecure andrntransferred the wealth of one class of society involuntarily to another,rnwhile creating a vast national bureaucracy which seeks tornsustain itself by maintaining the mechanism of wealth transferrnand a high level of taxation. The 17th Amendment, by mandatingrnthe direct election of senators, removed an essentialrncheck on democracy and led to an upper house moved more byrnopinion polls than constitutional obligations, as we saw mostrnvividly in the recent travesty of the Senate trial on PresidentrnClinton’s impeachment charges. The informal practice byrnwhich the Electoral College has become dominated by the nationalrnparties has led to a circumvention of the indirect schemernfor presidential election, as presidential candidates are nowrnpicked through an increasingly demagogic state primary electionrnprocess instead of through the reasoned deliberation of speciallyrnchosen, nonpartisan electors.rnRather than picking public officials as a result of their reputationrnfor wisdom and virtue, as the Framers hoped, we pickrnthem on the basis of their telegenic qualities, their appeal to ourrnspecial interests, or the ingenuity of their campaigns, whichrnpander to our baser instincts. This is not a new problem, ofrncourse: The formation of national factions and a press capablernof supporting such campaigns have been with us since the turnrnof the 18th century. But it is only in recent years that the legalrnand constitutional supports which protected us from ourselvesrnand our officials have very nearly collapsed under the combinedrnweight of a misguided Supreme Court, an overly activernlegislature, and a venal executive.rnThe Supreme Court’s abandonment of constitutional safeguardsrnis a well-known story, but one still worth reviewingrnfor the light it casts on the dismantling of the Framers’ design inrnthe other branches. The story begins with the replacement ofrnthe “Nine Old Men” on the pre-New Deal Supreme Courtrnwith lawyers and polihcians active in the New Deal and in post-rnNew Deal Democratic politics. Before the New Deal, thernCourt’s vision of constitutional and private law was a conservativernone, and it was not unusual, even, for members of thernSupreme Court to declare that ours was a Christian country, tornpermit prayer in the public schools, and to allow the enforcement,rnby law, of a morality of cooperation and deference. Therntheoretical rights of the individual were much less importantrnthan the security of the commrmit}-. The Bill of Rights was usedrnto restrain the federal government, as it was intended to do, andrnstate and local governments enjoyed the freedom to function,rnin Justice Brandeis’s famous phrase, as “social laboratories”rnworking out divergent recipes for community and social solidarity.rnPerhaps carried away by the grander schemes of the nationalrngovernment under the New Deal, and appalled by what theyrnperceived to be the failure of state and local governments to improvernthe lot of black Americans, the justices of the SupremernCourt, from the 1930’s on, broadened the powers of the federalrngovernment by ignoring prior constitutional restraints and allowingrnindividuals greater freedom to assert newly created constitutionalrnrights. The process began before the Warren Court,rnbut with the ascendance of Earl Warren it accelerated; state andrnlocal governments were soon told by the Supreme Court how tornconduct their schools, their police procedures, and even therncomposition and work of their legislatures.rnThe Bill of Rights, through the dubious “incorporation” doctrine,rnwas read into the 14th Amendment and turned againstrnthe state and local governments it was supposed to have aided.rnThe democratic, secular, and highly individualistic vision ofrnthe Warren Court survived the Burger and Rehnquist courts,rnreaching its apotheosis in the “mystery passage” oi Planned ParenthoodrnV. Casey. In that notorious case, a plurality of thernCourt, refusing to recognize that it had no legitimate businessrnin prohibiting the states from solving the difficult problem ofrnabortion on their own, reaffirmed that the right to seek an abortionrnwas embedded in the Constitution because “At the heart ofrnliberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, ofrnmeaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of hiunan life.”rnThis purported “right” seems to endorse individualism onlyrnfor its own sake, and its expression by the Court indicates it hasrnforgotten the wisdom of Coethe and the Greeks, that meaningrnin life arises only from our relationship with others. It is no surprise,rnthen, that the Court has too often allowed the supports forrnthe building of stable communities at the local and state level tornerode, and, unfortimately, the record of the federal legislatiirernhas not been much better.rnCongress has not been without its recent successes, such asrnthe defeat of the Clinton health-care initiative and the enactmentrnof the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, arnbadly needed law which made it more difficult to file frivolousrnlawsiuts against corporations and their officers and directorsrn(and the only substantive measure Congress has managed tornpass over President Clinton’s veto). But many other congressionalrnmeasures have driven wedges between American citizens,rnbetween employers and employees, and between corporationsrnand their constituencies. Many of the recent civil rightsrnand voting laws have led as much to expensive litigation, arbitraryrnadministrative enforcement, and racially and ethnically divisivernpolitics as they have to more participation in the politicalrnprocess or the binlding of stable communities. When thernEqual Employment Opportunity Commission believes it isrnwise to compel Hooters Restaurant to hire males as waiters inrnplace of the eponymically endowed Hooters girls, things haverngone too far.rnMuch of the hope of revivingrnAmerican ideals of cooperationrnand virtue may he inrnthe law of corporations and ofrnbusiness enterprise.rnThe federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a measurernpassed and, surprisingly, not vetoed during the Bush administiation,rnis typical of nanny-state legislation, which all butrnobliterates the discretion traditionally permitted by the law ofrncontract. The ADA requires businesses involved in interstaterncommerce not to discriminate in hiring those with disabilitiesrnwho, with “reasonable” accommodation by the employer, canrndo the jobs for which they have applied. Such “reasonable” accommodationrncan include forced flexible work schedules, additionalrnconstruction or eqitipment, and many other measuresrn16/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn