A Letter to the Editor: On President Obama’s Constitutionalism

September 3, 2013

A letter to the Editor



Barack Obama, upon announcing his plan to consult Congress about an armed intervention by this Country in Syria, observed that he is “mindful that [he is] the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.” This use by him of “the world’s oldest” is rather curious and perhaps instructive.

He, as a former constitutional law professor, exhibits in such language the tendency, both of all too many of our legal scholars and of most of our judiciary, to ignore the authoritative guidance still provided us by an even older “constitutional democracy,” the British system upon which the republican Framers of the Constitution of 1787 very much depended.

That was, and continues to be, a political system in which the ultimate supremacy of Parliament is always taken for granted, something that David Cameron was dramatically reminded of recently when the House of Commons vetoed an armed intervention by Britain in Syria. Such legislative supremacy obviously governs the judiciary as well as the executive in the British system, which it was originally intended to do as well in the United States, something that it is still prudent to insist upon in this Country.

George Anastaplo
Professor of Law
Loyola University Chicago
Telephone: (312) 915-7146


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