of the legislatures of the states. It determines the curriculumnand student assignments of their public schools, the rules ofnproceedings in their criminal courts, the speed limits onntheir highways, and the number of parking spaces for thenhandicapped in their public and private buildings. Wenobserve the strange spectacle of legislatures required to passnlaws according to specifications drawn up by federal judgesnand federal bureaucrats, which, of course, is not lawmakingnat all. The states may have larger budgets and do morenthings than ever before, but their constitutional authoritynhas never been lower.nIn the perspective of American history or of the Founders,nthis is an absolutely amazing development, a revolutionnconsummated entirely since I960, which has had lessnimpact on the public consciousness than the Super Bowl ornMichael Jackson. (Because, I think, the predominant strainnin the national character has become utilitarian^it caresnonly for ends and does not care how they arenaccomplished—the idea of principles simply doesn’t exist.nThis may be good or bad, but it is utterly incompatible withnthe Constitution.)nThe appeal to federally guaranteed individual rights asnthe chief [evolutionary] feature of the Constitution isnessentially antidemocratic. It takes the Constitution awaynfrom the people, whose Constitution it is, and gives it intonthe keeping of an elite class that considers itself the masternof mysteries that no majority, either state or federal, canntamper with. It is not the dead hand of the past (“a relicnfrom the past”) that the advocates of an evolutionarynConstitution fear. What they fear is the restraining hand ofnconsensus, that is, of democracy.nAn evolutionary Constitution implies a path of evolution,neither inevitable or actively pursued. But who is tondiscern the path? The Supreme Court of the later 19thncentury thought the path was illuminated by HerbertnSpencer; more recently egalitarian social democracy hasnbeen the beacon. In either case we have a guardian class ofnsavants privileged to lead the way. The status of such mennrests not on talents or public services but on claims tonspecial revelation. In other words, they are not republicanndelegates of the people but priestiy oracles—what thenFounders would have immediately seen to be clever usurpers,nand to us hardly distinguishable from the vanguard ofnthe proletariat.nIt is true that majorities can be wrong and that minoritiesnhave indefeasible rights enshrined within the spirit of thenConstitution. But make no mistake, our elitist interpretersnand molders of the Constitution are not talking about thenrights of minorities to be defended and to defend themselves.nThey are talking about the rights of a minority,nthemselves, to rule, to be the sovereign, the ultimatenauthority. And this is not a theory, but a fact.nIt is a curious truth that those who claim rationality, thenliberals, with their permanent revolution and reliance onnthe supposedly objective spirit and findings of social science,nalways resort to the most irrational view of thenConstitution—on the one hand to a mystical and disembodiednappeal beyond the letter, and on the other to thenmost petty and deceitful manipulations of the plain sense.nOne of the most obvious results of this is to remove thenConstitution from the people and have it perform as a covernfor elitism.nBut in fact, the Constitution, properly considered, doesnnot give any rights at all. The most essential point of anwritten constitution is that it is a limitation of government.nThe people establish institutions and give up to themncertain powers, and no more. The government is notnpresumed to give the people their rights; and indeed the Billnof Rights is cast in a negative form: “The Congress shallnmake no law …” That is, our rights are not a grant fromnthe federal government, and the chief duty of the federalngovernment is to refrain from interfering with them andnleave to our real communities their day-to-day definitionnand application. By this analysis, all that the I4th Amendmentn”intended” was to make the freed men citizens.nThere is a certain liberal spirit, genuinely American andnlegitimately derived from Jefferson, which says that thenearth belongs to the living generation, which must be freento make its own arrangements. But our current evolutionistsnrepresent the exact opposite of this spirit—they representnnot a forthright amendment by popular consent (which cannbe completely compatible with the spirit of traditions andninstitutions) but an essentially rigid and disguised manipulationnof the existing Constitution.nI have said that the appeal over the Constitution to thenhigher law is pervasive. For example, I have before me anReader’s Digest (Sept. 1987) containing the reflections ofnthe ex-Chief Justice Burger on how our Constitution shouldnbe viewed and celebrated. It is impossible to imaginenanything more “mainstream.” I set aside the silliness of thentide, “The Birth of a True Nation.” (Was the United Statesnan “untrue” nation before the Constitution?) I quote thenblurb, which is not the language of Burger but is annot-unfair representation of his sentiments expressed on thisnand other occasions; “Two centuries ago in Philadelphia,none of the most extraordinary events in all human historynoccurred, and America—and the world—were therebyntransformed.”nThe framing of the Constitution was a remarkable event,nbut I will have to reflect a little on the invention of thenwheel and the appearance of Jesus before conceding “one ofnthe most extraordinary events in all human history.”nFurther, the Constitution was not a unique event but a partnof a series of events which ought to be understood not as “anmiracle at Philadelphia” (to quote the title of a popularnwork—one does not know whether the pseudo-religion ornthe pseudo-history is more odious), but rather as a realisticnhuman achievement. Every clause of the Digest’s statementnis, in fact, either a falsehood or a gross exaggeration.nAmerica was not transformed by the Constitution, exceptnin a limited sense that a new governmental machinery wasnlaunched at the highest level. It remained the same society,nessentially, as it had the year before. The Constitution didnnot create republicanism, which had already been creatednby the people of the States as the first step in the Revolution.nIt did not create the idea of the written constitution, whichnalso had already been done by the states, which is why JohnnAdams wrote his A Defence of the Constitutions of thenUnited States.nBut we have here not only America transformed but alsonthe worldl Now it is true that the Founders sometimesnappealed to Mankind. However, they did not deal innnnDECEMBER 1987 / 13n