In Defense of the Electoral College

ELECTORAL COLLEGE

by Diane Rufino, July 4, 2019

The Electoral College seems to be a hot topic lately, right? Democrats are trying very hard to have it abolished, in favor of having the president chosen by a national popular vote rather than an electoral vote. You may have heard of this “National Popular Vote Initiative” and the efforts to push it state-by-state. The one essential reality that one must understand about this NPV Initiative is that a president can be elected simply by catering to the views and issues of just a few of our country’s largest, most densely-packed cities and ignoring the entire rest of the country. If you understand this, then you can clearly see why Democrats want to abolish the Electoral College. It is nothing more than an initiative to enrich their chances of winning presidential elections… Actually, it’s an initiative that will ensure that they win all future presidential elections.

Simply put, the NPV Initiative robs states of their sovereignty, the cornerstone of the federal Union established by the US Constitution.

Our top 25 most populous cities are (in order of greatest population): New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Austin, San Francisco, Jacksonville (FL), Indianapolis, Columbus (OH), Fort Worth, Charlotte, Detroit. Nashville, El Paso, Seattle, Memphis, Washington DC, Boston, and Denver. California has 4 cities in the top 12. Texas has 4 cities in the top 11, and 5 in the top 16. A candidate for president would only need to spend his or her time in California and Texas, and maybe include a few trips to NYC, Chicago, Philly, Phoenix, and maybe Jacksonville, Florida, to shore up the votes to tip the national popular vote in his or her favor. You will notice that most states have no cities on this list, which means that candidates can effectively ignore them and their concerns. My state of North Carolina might be ignored, but I’m quite positive that states like Alaska, Hawaii, all the southeast states, all the mid-west states (except the state of Texas and the city of Phoenix), and all the New England states will be completely ignored. And we all know that the issues of states like West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas will never be the issues of Los Angeles, San Francisco, NYC, and Philly. We know that the concerns and views of the good people of those states will never be the same as those crowded in the huge urban centers of the county.

For those who don’t know how the Electoral College works, it’s quite simple actually:

The Electoral College is made up of 538 electors who have the task of casting votes to decide the President and Vice-President of the United States. Where did this number 538 come from? The number equals the number of US House representatives (435 for the 50 states, plus 3 for the District of Columbia) and the number of US senators (100). And the break-down, or apportionment, of electors for each state follows exactly their representative in Congress. So, for example, North Carolina has 13 representatives in the US House and, just like every other state, it has 2 senators, which means that it has 15 electoral votes. California has 53 representatives in the US House with 2 senators, which means it has 55 electoral votes. Rhode Island has 2 representatives in the US House with 2 senators, and so it has 4 electoral votes. And Alaska has 1 representative in the US House with 2 senators, thus giving it a whopping 3 electoral votes.

Lesser populated states that have very small numbers of electoral votes include Delaware, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming (all have only 3 electoral votes) and New Hampshire, Hawaii, Idaho, and Maine (all having only 4 electoral votes).

You can see how the Electoral College gives a slight edge to the smaller states. In the case of Delaware, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, their electoral vote count is greatly boosted by their seats in the US Senate. In the case of New Hampshire, Hawaii, Idaho, and Maine, their electoral vote count is doubled by their seats in the US Senate. In the case of California, its seats in the Senate barely make a noticeable difference in their electoral vote count. Same for Texas, New York, and Florida.

The six states with the most electors are California (55), Texas (38), New York (29), Florida (29), Illinois (20), and Pennsylvania (20)

When voters go to the polls on Election Day, they are choosing which candidate receives their state’s electors. The candidate who receives a majority of electoral votes (270) wins the Presidency. The number 270 is comes from the total number of 538, divided in half (which is 269), plus 1 (to make it the majority). During election season, and especially Election Day evening, we are extremely focused on that number 270. Candidates strategize during campaign season on how to get to that number (and concentrate their campaigning efforts accordingly) and on Election night, we are focused on which candidate reaches the magic number as the election returns come rolling in.

All states except two (Nebraska and Maine) have what’s called a “winner-take-all” electoral system. In such a system, the candidate who wins the majority of votes in a state wins all of that state’s electoral votes. In Nebraska (5 electoral votes) and Maine (4 electoral votes), however, electoral votes are assigned by proportional representation, meaning that the top vote-getter in those states wins two electoral votes (for the two Senators) while the remaining electoral votes are allocated congressional district by congressional district. These rules make it possible for both candidates to receive electoral votes from Nebraska and Maine, unlike the winner-take-all system in the other 48 states.

Under the Electoral College system, a candidate who is able to pile up victories in sparsely-populated states can win the presidency without winning the popular vote by pulling out narrow victories in a few larger states (which is what Donald Trump did in 2016).

So we know how the Electoral College is comprised and we know where the magic number of 270 comes from. But how, exactly, does the Electoral College work?

The Electoral College is a very carefully considered structure that the Framers of the Constitution set up to balance the competing interests of large and small states. It prevents candidates from wining an election by focusing only on high-population urban centers (ie, the big cities) and ignoring smaller states and the more rural areas of the country (ie, what some refer to as “fly-over country”). Were it not for the Electoral College, presidential candidates could act as if many Americans don’t even exist. They know they only need a handful of states with big concentrated populations to win the election and so that is where they would not only spend most of their time in those states (and particular, in their big, populous cities) but the issues of those populations would become the issues that define the candidate’s campaign and would become the focus of his or her attention. Candidates would ignore the issues and concerns of those in “fly-over country”). As we all know, people in “flyover country” don’t get enough attention as it is, but without the Electoral College, they’d be completely at the mercy of the majority.

The United States is not a democracy (although it has some democratic elements); our system is a republic. Our Founders specifically and intentionally chose our system to be a republic rather than a democracy because a democracy is essentially “mob rule.” Benjamin Franklin described it as “two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner.” Our Founders extended that same mentality to the presidency (not allowing the office of the president to be subject to pure democracy). They didn’t want to subject the election of our Chief Executive to the inherent dangers of what James Madison called “the tyranny of the majority.” And so, just as they did in designing our government system to be a republic, they established the Electoral College as a system carefully balanced to safeguard the rights of both the majority and the minority. To explain it as Franklin may have described it: “What the wolves want matters, but so does what the sheep wants. The Electoral College ensures that no one winds up on the menu.”

Again, under the Electoral College system, the number of each state’s electors is tied exactly to the size of its congressional delegation; that is, the total number of its representatives in the US Congress (both the House + the Senate). Because each state — regardless of how many voters live there — gets two electors for each of its senators, the Electoral College gives an extra edge to less populous rural states which have long been Republican strongholds. The Democrats’ strength in the urban centers is concentrated in relatively few states, giving them a smaller Electoral College base. And this brings me to the initiative, as mentioned in the first paragraph, on the part of progressives (Democrats) to abolish the Electoral College altogether.

There is a well-financed effort by liberals/progressives/Democrats to do away with the Electoral College and to do exactly the opposite of what our Founding Fathers and the Framers of the US Constitution sought strenuously to avoid – which was to subject the office of the country’s highest executive office to the tyranny of the majority. Our Founders were keen to realize that the majority of voters, even back then, are uninformed, unintelligent, and unfit to cast a responsible vote for the individual to hold the extremely critical office of President of the United States. This is the National Popular Vote (MPV) Initiative.

Rather than amend the Constitution to change the way we elect our president, which is the lawful, constitutional way to change the Constitution, the MVP approach would involve an end-run around the Constitution, which is the method-of-choice of liberals, progressives, and Democrats. [We see this in the aggressive manner in which progressives seek to advance their (often unconstitutional) agenda by going to liberal federal courts]. The NVP movement asks states to sign a contract to award its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, rather than to the winner of the state’s popular vote. This is why I wrote earlier that the NVP Initiative robs states of their sovereignty.

As you can see, the NVP Initiative seeks to fundamentally change the system by which we elect our president – from a more state-centered approach to a pure national approach. Such a fundamental change to a system expressly laid out in the Constitution MUST be made by a constitutional amendment. The well-financed liberal individuals and groups behind NVP know that they will never be successful with a constitutional amendment and that’s why they’ve come up with this “end-run on the Constitution” approach.

The unique design feature of our American government system is the separation of government powers among equal sovereigns (federalism, dual sovereignty) established by the US Constitution. The union so created by the Constitution (which is a “compact” or agreement among the states) is characterized as a federation of states (a consortium of states, if you will). This system, which is a decentralized government system, was intentionally designed as such. As the 10th Amendment restates, the federal government is delegated with certain limited and clearly-defined tasks to carry out on behalf of all the states while the overwhelming majority of government functions resides with and is reserved to the individual states. The election of the president of the United States, the chief executive that must equally represent and be concerned with each state, was also designed to be a decentralized process.

As I mentioned earlier, the NVP Initiative robs states of their sovereignty – their inherent sovereign right to carry out government functions reserved to them under the Constitution and again (restated) by the Tenth Amendment. A key benefit or key feature of the Electoral College is that it decentralizes control of our presidential elections. We are not a consolidated nation of people but rather a federation of 50 states which are allowed to govern those who reside within its borders. Currently, a presidential election is really 51 separate elections – one in each state and one in the District of Columbia (thanks to the 23rd Amendment). These 51 separate processes exist side-by-side and in harmony with one another. So, a vote cast in Texas can never affect the award of electors in California.

The NVP Initiative would disrupt this delicate balance. It would throw all voters in the United States into one national election pool. We would be changing the nature of our system from one of a federation (a loosely-held consortium of states, held together by the Constitution and assent to the powers delegated to the federal government) to one of complete consolidation into a borderless, stateless country. Under the NVP Initiative, a vote cast in Texas would allows affect the allocation of electors in California. Remember, every state has its own election laws, election rules (such as rules for early voting, for registering to vote, to determine qualifications to vote, allowing or disallowing felons to vote, and for triggering a re-count), election codes, and election practices. Some states take election fraud and voter fraud seriously and take steps to prevent such while others completely look the other way. Some states allow for ballot harvesting and others do not. Some tolerate organized election tampering schemes (such as multiple voting, voting using the identification of a deceased person or someone who had moved away, or voting by illegals by giving them fake identification), while others do not. Because states play by different rules, the NVP Initiative allows the national popular vote to be diluted, distorted, manipulated, tainted, etc by these different rules.

To look at the parade of horribles that can result from the NVP Initiative, go to this Prager U video (“Popular Vote v. The Electoral College” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXnjGD7j2B0 ).

A week ago, I posted a piece about the Electoral College titled “Rejection of the Electoral College is the Surest Path to the Destruction of This Country” in Beaufort County Now (BCN). Essentially, the piece addressed an interview with an expert on the Electoral College who explained why it is important and the goals it furthers. Many comments showed that people understand the role of the Electoral College and respect it. Stan Deatherage, publisher of BCN, also engaged in the dialogue, showing his understanding of the process. One lady, however, apparently tried to cast doubt on the Electoral College by listing presidents and politicians who have supported abolishing it in favor of a national popular vote. I will simply call her “Susan.” I wanted to include her comment and include my response to her.

SUSAN: In 1969, The U.S. House of Representatives voted for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin. It was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, and then-Senator Bob Dole.

Past presidential candidates with a public record of support, before November 2016, for the National Popular Vote bill that would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes: Bob Barr (Libertarian- GA), U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN).

Rich Bolen, a Constitutional scholar, attorney at law, and Republican Party Chairman for Lexington County, South Carolina, wrote: “A Conservative Case for National Popular Vote: Why I support a state-based plan to reform the Electoral College.”

 

MY RESPONSE: Stan, I’m glad you get it and understand WHY the Electoral College was the system our founders came up with to honor our particular government system. We are a federation, and NOT a consolidated union. This fact, this reality, is lost on most of the people we talk to. Ms. Anthony, I think this point is also lost on you as well. I don’t mean that with any disrespect at all. You aren’t really making a point, other than to point out what others have supported. The 1960’s was a time of great social upheaval and rebellion against everything that had been accepted for most of our history. When Andrew Jackson and then Abraham Lincoln wanted to change the character of this country and mold it into something that was politically more advantageous, they first worked very hard to unmoor our country from its foundations. They began to re-characterize the nature of the US Constitution and the nature of our federal union. Once government benefitted from their deception and once it grew into a more aggressive and dominating beast, it took over education and began teaching/indoctrinating our children in the lessons that would continue to dissociate our national values and the foundations required to secure a limited federal government and liberty from our collective understanding of our country’s identity. Then politicians came along, such as Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, LBJ, Nixon, Clinton, Bush, and Obama who saw the federal government in a different light than our Founders did and the States who debated and eventually ratified the Constitution did. They ignored the original responsibility of the government, which was simply to abide by the limited responsibilities in the Constitution and to leave all the rest of governing responsibilities to the individual states. Rather, they saw the federal government as the solution to EVERY PROBLEM. They saw it as a government of greatly consolidated functions; they saw the federal government as the one supreme government that knows best and is able to govern best. FDR tried hard to enshrine a “Second Bill of Rights” which, he explained, would help overcome the inherent evil of our American system which produces inequality by providing new rights such the right to a job, to food, to clothing, to recreation, to a home, to healthcare, and to a good education, as well as the freedom from the “fear” of unemployment, aging, sickness, and unfair competition. Teddy Roosevelt articulated the precursor to this Second Bill of Rights. But all of the presidents mentioned above latched onto this “new set of rights” and used their administrations to further them in one way or another. All ignored their oaths to the Constitution. They also needed to unchain or unmoor founding principles and institutions from our collective understanding of what our country was founded on and what is needed to ensure her longevity and the longevity of the individual rights of ALL citizens of the US. That is what the abolition of the Electoral College is all about. It’s a political movement, not a righteous movement. It’s goal is to further a political goal – the election of Democrats for president. It is not the goal of our founders which was always the maintaining of the federal government as a “common government” for all states, to represent their interests equally. (In fact the movement to abolish the Electoral College would make absolutely sure that the government and the president does not represent each state equally. The point I am trying to make is that the presidents and president hopefuls you mention, whether they had a “D” or a “R” after their name, were ALL progressive presidents. Not a single one of them had any respect for the system of government that was given to us and that, at its core (because the Constitution is essentially unchanged) is STILL IN PLACE. The Electoral College is a key foundational element of that system. Our government system does NOT exist to benefit any political elite. It doesn’t exist to benefit any political party. It doesn’t even exist to benefit the federal government over the state governments. It doesn’t exist to destroy the federal nature of our union (because certainly that would favor and benefit the federal government). It exists to maintain the STATUS QUO – to maintain the vital and critical relationship between the federal government and the States (ie, federalism, sovereign v. sovereign, dual sovereignty). Why? It is this relationship that was intended to be the last and most important of all the Checks and Balances on the government in DC. Checks and balances exist and are essential in order to prevent any unconstitutional laws, policies, executive actions, and even court rulings from being enforced on We the People. To allow such is the very definition of tyranny and government abuse. Anyone who favors or supports any changes to our system which undermines the very goals of our system (to maintain a limited government, to prevent government tyranny, and to preserve and protect our inalienable and other liberty rights) needs to have his or her head examined. Our country was founded on the notion of liberty and our system was chosen because it was deemed best to secure liberty the longest and most effectively. Any person who favors such changes as to erode our founding goals, I would argue, does not deserve to live in this country and is unfit to help secure the blessings of liberty to subsequent generations – “to the generations to come and millions yet unborn.”

 

Do NOT fall for the deceptions of the National Popular Vote Initiative. Again, a group of wealthy progressive individuals and groups are behind this movement for one reason only – to ensure the election of Democratic presidents. If this wasn’t the likely goal, why else would this group invest their money and push this initiative so strongly? Our Founding Fathers were far more intuitive and intelligent than those who are trying to run or influence the country now. Our Founding Fathers’ motives were far more benign and non-politically motivated than those who are behind this initiative. Respect them. Support them and Reject the arguments of the NVP movement.

To learn more about the Electoral College, I suggest watching the three short Prager U instructional videos listed below in my references section.

 

References:

Edwin J. Feulner, “Preventing “The Tyranny of the Majority” Heritage Foundation, March 7, 2018. Referenced at: https://www.heritage.org/conservatism/commentary/preventing-the-tyranny-the-majority

Diane Rufino, “Rejection of the Electoral College is the Surest Path to the Destruction of This Country,” Beaufort County Now, July 1, 2019. Referenced at: https://beaufortcountynow.com/post/32758/rejection-of-the-electoral-college-is-the-surest-path-to-the-destruction-of-this-country.html

Bill Moyers, “The Electoral College Explained,” November 10, 2016. Referenced at:   https://billmoyers.com/story/electoral-college-explained/

Distribution of Electoral Votes – https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/allocation.html   [Note that the 23rd Amendment gave the District of Columbia 3 electoral votes and thus is treated like a state for the purposes of the Electoral College].

Prager U, “Do You Understand the Electoral College,” YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6s7jB6-GoU

Prager U, “Three Reasons Why We Need the Electoral College,” YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K80msVnqaHE

Prager U, “Popular Vote v. The Electoral College (including the National Popular Vote Initiative, or NPV Initiative),” YouTube video – – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXnjGD7j2B0

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Rejection of the Electoral College is the Surest Path to the Destruction of This Country

ELECTORAL COLLEGE - sign

by Traci Griggs (NC Family Policy Matters, April 18, 2019), with an intro by Diane Rufino, May 28, 2019

Rejection of the Electoral College is the Surest Path to the Destruction of this Country.

It seems fewer and fewer Americans understand and appreciate our very unique system of government. For example, how many times have you heard someone refer to our country as a “democracy” ? Our Founders, as I’m sure we Tea Partiers know, intentionally rejected such a system of government in favor of a constitutional republic. And how many times recently have we heard Democrats and Progressives push to abolish the Electoral System, citing that such a system is not democratic? We should recognize this movement for what it truly is – the surest way to wrangle our country from its conservative moorings and to head quickly on the path to overbearing big government and socialism (massive re-distribution of wealth). It is the surest way to put our government in the hands of those who devalue freedom (because only a person who doesn’t value freedom or who doesn’t care to live free wants government to take care of him) and hence to pursue policies to limit it to everyone.

America’s Founding Fathers designed very specific guidelines for our system of government and protected them by placing them in the U.S. Constitution.

Dr. Adam Carrington, an assistant professor of Politics at Hillsdale College Graduate School of Statesmanship, was interviewed by Ms. Traci Griggs, Director of Communications at the NC Family Policy Council, on its show Family Policy Matters to talk about the Electoral College and what will happen if states dare to break from this critical tradition. To be clear, the Electoral College is so very vital to the ideal of our country being a “union” of states premised on the notion that the government serves each state and each state’s interests equally.

The topic of the interview (the podcast in available) is “The Dangers of Breaking From Our Constitution.”

TRACI GRIGGS: Let’s start with a topic that seems to be popping up a lot lately. There is somewhat of a groundswell among some to do away with the Electoral College. Before we discuss whether or not that’s a good thing, it might be very helpful if you would give us a quick history lesson on the Electoral College—what is it, how does it work and why did the Founding Fathers think it was so important to include it in our Constitution?

ADAM CARRINGTON: That’s a great place to start. What it is, is simply the way we choose the President of the United States. How it’s set up is that each state in the United States is given electoral votes, which are equal to how many Congressmen it has; if you have 14 House members, two Senators, you’d have 16 electoral votes. We now have 538 of those total distributed through the United States and the District of Columbia. Each state then selects electors who meet together to choose the president. That’s the same as the number of electoral votes they have, and whatever candidate gets a majority of those electoral votes across the country wins the presidency. That’s why people are always talking about 270 now. That’s 50 percent plus one of all of the electoral votes across all the states in the country.

And why was it included? Why didn’t we do another system? In some ways it was a compromise at the Constitutional Convention between legislative selection—having Congress select the president, and popular vote—having the people do it as a whole. And what it was seen as was the best of both of those and avoiding the worst of both of those, that it would include like popular election, the consent of the people, and like Congress, a special body selected by the people with the character and knowledge to make an informed decision. And that’s why they thought it was so important to pick the chief executive of the United States, for those reasons.

TRACI GRIGGS: People complain that the Electoral College undermines the idea of “one person, one vote.” It really does do that, doesn’t it?

ADAM CARRINGTON: It does in the strict sense, but I think if we’re going to take the wisdom of the Founders as a whole, we’ll see many other structures in the Constitution do that too. Ex: the Senate, lifetime appointment of judges. But the Founders thought that there was more to a good and just regime than “one person, one vote.” They wanted consent of the governed, but they wanted consent for the purpose of protecting everyone’s equal natural rights, and they understood that all human beings are fallible and a majority can be tyrannical and bad, just like one or a few people can be. So what they wanted to do was respect consent of the governed, but channel that decision so that it was reasonable, and channel it in such a way so that when the people choose, they choose in the best way possible. Just like we often constrained the way we choose to make our choices better, that’s what they tried to do with this system, because it wasn’t just what choice we made, it’s how we made that choice that mattered to them.

TRACI GRIGGS: Interestingly, about a dozen states have passed laws that would give their Electoral College votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote. So that’s regardless of how their particular state voted. Now those laws can’t go into effect unless enough states pass similar laws, but give us some perspective on just how dramatic a change that would be for American elections.

ADAM CARRINGTON: I think it would change fundamentally how we look at the elections for president and how states, or campaigns look at them as well. There’d be a massive change first in campaigning. There’d be less of a focus on states, much more of a focus on population centers or media markets, getting out your kind of voter or wherever they are, and to some degree, ignoring voters that aren’t in your camp and others, and more therefore a focus on those questions. I think from other people looking at these elections, not just the campaigners, there would be the elimination of something we spend so much time looking at, which our state polls, maybe we would have regional polls, but I think the bigger focus would be on where are the big population centers going? What are they doing? It would nationalize the campaign and eliminate the state centric focus of it in a way that we’ve never seen given Electoral College’s focus on the states.

TRACI GRIGGS: Would you consider this to be a good change or bad change?

ADAM CARRINGTON: I think that there are a lot of drawbacks to it because I think that the nature of a more state-centered campaign actually forces candidates much more to appeal to broader arrays of voters. Now, people complain that they only campaign in swing states, but those swing states force them to appeal to voters within those states and other places that are less like them than, I think, they would if they had to just run up vote totals nationally. I think it creates a kind of moderating influence that makes the different candidates less partisan and more conducive to the public good. We often say we’re too partisan now. I think that would be much worse if we had just a pure national popular vote.

TRACI GRIGGS: Okay, let’s switch gears and talk a little bit about our courts. From your understanding of history, do you feel like it is getting tougher for our judicial nominees these days? Are they being more unfairly scrutinized or attacked today than they were in previous years?

ADAM CARRINGTON: I think two things have happened that both result in saying yes to that. One, I think the importance of the courts has skyrocketed as other branches, such as Congress, have abdicated a lot of power as there’ve been more battles between the Executive and the Judiciary. I think that has caused the courts to be seen as much more important than they were in the past. The other is that so much of our lives are now recorded and able to be scrutinized. Much less of our lives are secret and much less of a public person’s life is secret. And when you put those two together, I think yes, judges today—and potential Supreme Court Justices—are under much more scrutiny than in the past.

TRACI GRIGGS: Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has decided to employ the “nuclear option,” he says, to dramatically reduce the amount of debate time for many judicial nominees. Do you feel this would damage the integrity of this process? What effect would it have?

ADAM CARRINGTON: I think if it was done out of any other context, it would be—the Senate should be a place where there should be extra protections for debate—but it doesn’t come without a context. I think that context really shows that it’s more of a result of a damaged process, not a damaging of the process. Debate is meant to deliberate and refine one’s choice. Really, what it’s being used for now is obstruction and to stop the process. And I think if we could restore the original purpose of having unlimited debate, which is to have good deliberation and a good process for making choices for judges, then we shouldn’t have those limits. But as long as it’s going to be used, by really both sides when they’re in the minority, to obstruct, I think that steps need to be taken to make sure that the debate has an endpoint, so the purpose of a real debate is fulfilled, which is to choose in the end.

TRACI GRIGGS: You mentioned that we put a lot more emphasis on our Supreme Court Justices right now, and some have suggested that the next president of the United States might move to increase the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Many people may not realize that number is not set in stone. So why do we have nine justices?

ADAM CARRINGTON: Really, tradition. We originally only had six and we’ve had nine since 1869. It changed a lot between the founding in 1869, and I think there were a couple reasons we’ve kept that. One is the uneven number allows every case to have a definitive decision. You don’t have ties. I think that number was seen as reasonable, that nine justices is a good amount to divide up the workload of opinion writing and research. Also, that it wasn’t so big that the judges couldn’t deliberate and discuss together how they interpret the law. But I think also it’s where it is now because more and more people came to see changing the court regularly as too nakedly partisan for a court you want to be above partisanship and apply the law in a neutral way, regardless of who the litigants are, regardless of what the judge’s opinions are. The more you move the numbers of the Court around, the more that institution is seen as something much more nakedly political then the Constitution imagined it to be.

TRACI GRIGGS: So how much concern do you have that some of the brightest shining stars in politics seem to have very little understanding of the Constitution, of basic economics, international relations, and yet have a huge following. Is this a concern to you going forward in politics and in our nation?

ADAM CARRINGTON: Certainly! And it’s not just because it’s my job to hopefully teach people that are better informed on this. But it’s the idea that if we believe that this document is on one hand, our governing document and on the second, that it’s a wise governing document, then for people who are supposed to be elected under it and supposed to follow it, to not do so is doubly bad. It’s bad because it means we are not really following the rule of law of our supreme law of the land. And it also means that we’re not following the wisest path that the Founders set out, and following some lesser path. And I think that it shows a kind of illiteracy, not just among those who are being elected, but sadly among a number of people that are electing, that right standards of the justice and process the Constitution sets up is not front and center and not something that’s disqualifying when our elected officials show ignorance of it.

TRACI GRIGGS: For those of us who are listening and who may think to themselves either: I forgotten a lot of things, or I was never taught very well all these principles from our Constitution and by our Founding Fathers, what kind of suggestions would you have for people listening who might want to—at whatever age they are—learn some things so that they can go forward with this wisdom that you mentioned.

ADAM CARRINGTON: I would make a couple suggestions. One is just read the Constitution for yourself. It was written as a document of the people, by the people, for the people, and so don’t be intimidated by it. You can understand it as an American citizen. Second, I would point to actually there’s lots of resources online for reading what the Founders thought. Read something like the Federalist Papers. They were written to defend the Constitution. They were written as op-eds for newspapers. So they are, again, meant for the people to understand and discuss. And then third, I’d point to where I work, Hillsdale College. We have an array of online courses that are free, where our goal is civic education, including a U.S. Constitution course, where we strive to make available ways that citizens can educate themselves. So I would say, every American should take this very seriously. Whatever else their career path, that they are a citizen all the time. There are these resources out there that would allow us to exercise our sovereignty as the sovereign people in a much more full and informed way.

TRACI GRIGGS: Excellent. I would highly recommend your Constitution 101 online course. That’s a very good resource. I know from personal experience.

Dr. Carrington, thank you so much for being with us on Family Policy Matters today, and for all that you do to educate future generations of American citizens to know and understand the uniqueness of this great country.

ADAM CARRINGTON: Thank you. It’s humbling to do it, and an honor and pleasure too.

 

Reference:  https://www.ncfamily.org/the-dangers-of-breaking-from-our-constitution/