Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Peter Bronson, Constitutional Law Scholar

With the election over, we can turn our attention to this blog's favorite pastime: exposing the foolishness of Peter Bronson.

Yesterday, Mr. Bronson published an essay on his most recent trip to Gettysburg. I'm not sure what his point was (civil war is bad?). This little nugget, though, caught my attention (emphasis mine):
The South's cause was tainted by the slavery they relied on to produce 60 percent of America's exports and 75 percent of the world's cotton. But their reading of the Constitution was correct: The states delegated powers to the federal government, and they had a right to file for divorce if the domestic abuse was intolerable.

So, Peter Bronson believes that the Constitution gives states the right to secede? Wow. Maybe the Alaskan Independence Party will invite him to introduce Sarah Palin at its next convention.

I pulled open my Constitution, looking for a Secession Clause. I didn't find one. And guys like Bronson believe that the only rights guaranteed by the Constitution are those specifically enumerated therein. So why does he believe in such a right?

What's more, Bronson's position--that there is a right of secession--was squarely repudiated by the Supreme Court. In Texas v. White, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase (near and dear to the hearts of Cincinnatians) held that Texas--which was once a sovereign republic--had no right to secede. Chase wrote:
The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war, and received definite form and character and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these, the Union was solemnly declared to "be perpetual." And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained "to form a more perfect Union." It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?

I'm not sure what prompted Bronson's miniature states' rights tirade. Perhaps he was thinking that if Obama won, he could lead Ohio to secede from the United States. But it'd be nice if someone at the Enquirer would "fact-check" Bronson once in a while before going to print.

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