I’ve long insisted that the constitution was not meant as a brain buster. It’s written in plain English, to the level of understanding of an average person. John Derbyshire got a great email from a reader who agrees.
To this day, I’m amazed at all the seemingly bright students in my class that never seemed to “get it.” I am convinced they made things more complicated than they needed to be because of an expectation that things had to be difficult. Indeed, I think it is a hallmark of lawyers to make things more complicated than they need to be — part of it probably to create a mystique that gives more apparent legitimacy to the profession and part out of a preening intellectualism, and I think it has long been this way with attorneys. But I think with the modern legal profession there is something more sinister going on. The “complexity” of the law (specifically of constitutional law) is in far too many instances merely a smoke screen for those that would use the law to achieve political ends for which our legal system was not intended and for which there would be no popular support. If Justice Blackman had stated in his Roe v. Wade opinion that “there is clearly no right to an abortion protected by the Constitution, but a majority of us justices feel there ought to be,” clearly that ruling would have no political legitimacy. Hence, we get double speak like “unenumerated penumbras” designed, I believe, to make the layman throw up his hands and say “this stuff is too complicated for me…but if the experts say there’s a right to an abortion in the Constitution they must be right. Heck, they went to law school!”