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Critic of Democrats need refresher on U.S. Constitution | READER COMMENTARY

While documents like the Magna Carta and the Constitution's direct predecessor, the U.S. Articles of Confederation, are cited as the key influences for the U.S. Constitution, early colonizers may have also drawn inspiration from Indigenous government structures. File.
While documents like the Magna Carta and the Constitution's direct predecessor, the U.S. Articles of Confederation, are cited as the key influences for the U.S. Constitution, early colonizers may have also drawn inspiration from Indigenous government structures. File. (Dreamstime/TNS)

In his recent commentary, “The Democratic Party is often violent, divisive and hypocritical; if it doesn’t change, Trump will be back” (Nov. 20), Ronald Boone misunderstands several important aspects the United States Constitution and our democratic institutions. He complains that the Democrats ignore the Constitution by their talk of eliminating the Electoral College, packing the Supreme Court and the U.S. Senate.

The Constitution contains provisions for doing these very things. There is nothing unconstitutional about doing them. Adding states such as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia promotes democracy by giving those who are subject to our laws a voice in making them. Opposing the Electoral College, which is elevating the loser of the popular vote to the presidency is not undemocratic or unconstitutional. That’s what amendments are for. And packing the Supreme Court? In 2016, the Republican Senate refused to consider a Supreme Court nominee from the president of the opposing party eight months before the next election. Then in 2020, this same Senate rushed a nominee from the president of their party onto the court while people were in the process of voting. This shows that it is the Republicans, not the Democrats, who are attacking our democratic intuitions and traditions.

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Republicans are gaming the Electoral College and delegitimizing both the Senate and the Supreme Court by their manipulation of the Constitution in order to gain and solidify power in the hands of one party — another complaint of Mr. Boone’s. The Republican-held Senate further eroded its own legitimacy and that of the presidency by refusing to remove from office a president from their own party who some of them agreed — while voting to acquit him ― was guilty. Democracy is fragile. It relies on a willingness to compromise, to see the other side as opponents to be debated, not enemies to be destroyed. Mr. Boone complains that there are Democrats in the streets and in the media and elsewhere who do this while the examples cited above show that the Republicans in positions of great power are doing this — as a matter of government policy and democratic procedure.

And as far as legitimizing their tactics by arguing that they are constitutional, which they are, I remind Mr. Boone and others of the great Judge Learned Hand’s immortal words from his “Spirit of Liberty” speech: “I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes... Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.”

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Thomas Bayard Williams, Baltimore

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