Is the Fourteenth Amendment Illegitimate?

One of NewsReal’s regular commenters, the Inquisitor, seems to think so:

…the 14th Amendment is not the law of the land as it “… was never constitutionally proposed to the states by Congress and never constitutionally ratified by the states.”

I must admit I’ve never heard this one before, but it smells like more of the same old neo-Confederate revisionism that libertarians and paleoconservatives just can’t get enough of.  And sure enough, Inquisitor cites Kevin Gutzman’s Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution as his source.  I haven’t read Gutzman, but PIG series is known for being pretty hit & miss when it comes to American history and constitutional theory.

Against my better judgment about how to productively use my time, I decided to see what I could find about this startling constitutional revelation.  I found an article by Gene Healy at the dubious LewRockwell.com, entitled “The Squalid Fourteenth Amendment.”  That should do it.

As the legally reconstituted Southern states were busy ratifying the anti-slavery Thirteenth Amendment, the Republican-dominated Congress refused to seat Southern representatives and Senators. This allowed the remaining, rump Congress to propose the Fourteenth Amendment, consistent with Article V’s requirement of a 2/3 majority for sending a proposed amendment to the states. Never mind that Congress also clearly violated that Article’s provision that “no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”

The Constitution also says that “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation,” and that “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress…enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or engage in War, unless actually invaded.”  Oh, so now the rebels should get the protection of the Constitution they tried to withdraw from? You try to break apart the country in the name of “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man,” and you have no right to expect to be welcomed back into the Union immediately.

Though the Northern states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, it was decisively rejected by the Southern and border states, failing to secure the 3/4 of the states necessary for ratification under Article V. The Radical Republicans responded with the Reconstruction Act of 1867, which virtually expelled the Southern states from the Union and placed them under martial law. To end military rule, the Southern states were required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. As one Republican described the situation: “the people of the South have rejected the constitutional amendment and therefore we will march upon them and force them to adopt it at the point of the bayonet.”

President Andrew Johnson saw the Reconstruction Act as “absolute despotism,” a “bill of attainder against 9,000,000 people.” […] The rump Republican Congress overrode Johnson’s veto and enacted statutes that shrank both the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction and the Court itself – just in case the judicial branch got any funny ideas of its own about constitutionalism. Jackboot on its neck, the South ratified, but not before New Jersey and Ohio, aghast at Republican tyranny, rescinded their previous ratifications of the mendment. Even with the fictional consent of the Southern states, the republicans needed New Jersey and Ohio to put the amendment over the top. No matter; by joint resolution, Congress declared the amendment valid. Thus it – you’ll excuse the phrasing– “passed into law.”

The Constitution requires “three fourths of the several states” to ratify amendments.  In 1868, the Union had 37 states, requiring 28 states to ratify the 14th Amendment.  By 1868, it had thirty ratifications, meaning that New Jersey and Ohio’s withdrawals would bring the number down to…28.  (And for what it’s worth, since then, every state which originally rejected the 14th Amendment has reversed its decision.)

Once again, paleo-libertarians appear to fare little better with American history than the Left.

Ground Zero: Taking Back the Schools, UPDATE: Latham Wins!

UPDATE: Chalk one up for the good guys—Mr. Latham has his job back!

Newsbusters and Fox News have the scoop (video from this morning’s Fox & Friends interview here) on Tim Latham, a high school social studies teacher who contends he’s been let go from his job merely for being a conservative.  Latham’s crimes:

– Not showing Barack Obama’s inauguration in class—never mind that he never has, and says he never would, shown video of any presidential inauguration.  Good to know that kneeling before Zod is now part of the job description.

– Having an overly-patriotic website, which states his goal to get students “to love your country, live the experiences of those who came before — to truly love the American way of life,” links to hotbeds of right-wing extremism like…uh, West Point and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and stories about terrorist attacks (which he was forced to remove).  Weird…it’s as if he thinks he’s teaching American kids or something…

– Putting a McCain-Palin bumper sticker on his car.  Doesn’t he realize that Sarah Palin is Potemkin symbolism?

His students love him and have gone to bat for him, and even the liberal kids insist he never forced his views on them.  School officials have reportedly admitted that they violated union procedures for firing teachers, and his colleagues have berated him for supporting “that woman” (hmm, that phrase sounds familiar…).  There’s nothing wrong with trying to instill honest patriotism in students—in fact, that’s precisely what a social studies teacher should do.

As far as I can tell, this is straight-up ideological persecution.  Public schools around the country are firmly in the grip of the Left—left-wing indoctrination and persecution are commonplace, and often take forms far more sinister than “to love your country.”

Make no mistake, this stuff goes on at our very own Fond du Lac High School, too.  Four of my five social studies teachers were very good and very fair, but one was a rabid antiwar, anti-Scott McCallum propagandists.  My AP English teacher had a reputation as a bitter left-wing fanatic, whose rants about Vietnam, George Bush, religion, and more would leave our class days behind schedule.  I know of a science teacher who told his students not to trust Fox News, and of another English teacher who railed against Bush (the same teacher who complained to school administration that I once uttered the phrase “God Bless America” on the intercom—which the principal later lied about).

And even when teachers aren’t pushing an agenda, textbooks often offer a flawed, biased view of American history and politics.  Some examples:

American Civics, Constitution Edition (1987) accepts the fatuous concept of the living Constitution as a given, characterizes the “Necessary & Proper” clause in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution as “allow[ing] Congress to take many actions not named in the Constitution,” never mentioning the substantial dispute over its nature early in our history, warns that “Many of [the problems in America’s schools] are caused by lack of money,” and makes no mention of the Federalist Papers.

America’s History, Fourth Edition (2000, Bedford/St. Martin’s) presents then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s healthcare plan as a mild, market-based solution to healthcare reform (no), wildly mischaracterizes Sen. Joe McCarthy as a lying demagogue (no), dismisses Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative as unrealistic (no), and outrageously asserts that Anita Hill’s accusations against Clarence Thomas were ignored only because there weren’t enough women in the Senate (no).

The American Pageant, Twelfth Edition (2001), the history book used in Fond du Lac High School’s AP US History courses during the 05/06 school year, also engages in vicious McCarthy revisionism, going so far as to impugn McCarthy’s military record as “trumped up,” characterizes one of Osama bin Laden’s grievances as America’s “support for Israel’s hostility to Palestinian nationalism,” adds a note into the text of the Second Amendment (“the right of the people to keep and bear arms [i.e., for military purposes] shall not be infringed”), and downplays the religiosity of the Framers, leaving their beliefs on religion’s societal importance unmentioned.

In Vindicating Lincoln, Hillsdale College Political Science Professor Thomas Krannawitter writes:

I recently led a civic education workshop for middle and high school teachers during which I presented the different views of the Framers of the Constitution offered by Abraham Lincoln [who said the Framers believed slavery to be evil and wanted to end it] and Chief Justice Roger Taney [who said they never meant for the Declaration of Independence to include blacks, whom they saw as little more than property…] After analyzing numerous original source documents from Lincoln, Taney, and the Founders, one of the teachers raised his hand in exasperation, explaining that for twenty-five years he had been teaching American government, and all along he had unknowingly been teaching Taney’s view of the Founding, not Lincoln’s.  He went on to explain that he had not taught Lincoln’s view because he had never encountered it, that all the American history and government textbooks simply parroted Taney’s groundless description of the Founders, and that he felt cheated by his own (mis)education.

There is some evidence that leftist thinking is even embedded into the training of modern teachers—the 1993 edition of School & Society, a textbook for teacher education, paints a grim picture of a country in which the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer (one can just imagine what other goodies lie inside).

The Left’s stranglehold on education is going almost completely unchallenged, which is one of the Right’s greatest failings, and nothing less than a dereliction of duty by federal, state, and local Republican parties.  No attempt to truly advance conservative ideas or repair the damage the Left has done to this country will be complete without a full-blown offensive to restore integrity, accuracy, and fair-mindedness to the schools.  Millions of children are being taught to accept at face value false premises about our form of government, historical falsehoods presented as fact, a laundry list of supposed sins tarnishing the image of their country, and other core tenets of liberalism.  As documented by David Limbaugh and Jay Sekulow & Keith Fournier, bigotry towards students’ mild, benign religious expression is commonplace.

Morally, this situation is intolerable, and demands a vigorous opposition.  But conservatives also need to realize that any effort to make the conservative case in the media or during campaigns will be at a major disadvantage as long as major portions of its audience are receiving that message through the prism of their miseducation.  Converts to the Right will be won from time to time, but many more will unwittingly adopt and internalize tenets of the Left through their taxpayer-funded miseducation.

Conservatives need to watch their school districts with a fine toothed comb.  Pay attention to what your kids encounter.  Follow the school board meetings, whether in person or on local public access television.  Go to your schools’ libraries, and see what books are and aren’t there, and in what proportion (find out if your district keeps their libraries’ catalogs computerized).  Examine the textbooks used in class every chance you get (such as when new ones are up for adoption—the FdL School District has announced that community members can review a group of new books, including 5 social studies texts, until June 22).  Whenever cause for concern arises, pursue it, offer your support to those involved, demand answers from the officials, and raise awareness however you can—newspaper letters, emails, townhall meetings, you name it.  Pay attention to what kids are saying on RateMyTeachers.com, and don’t be afraid to contribute.

In a future post, I will create a list of key falsehoods and omissions in class curriculums, and other school practices, that parents, students, and other concerned citizens should watch out for.

Granted, taking a stand against liberal indoctrination is a guaranteed way to incur the wrath of the establishment, demonized as obsessed, petty, hateful, on a vendetta to destroy education itself, with no consideration “for the children.”  It takes courage and fortitude to withstand one of the Left’s trademark intimidation campaigns.  It’s a lot to ask of any individual, which is why organizations like local GOPs ought to take the lead.  We need parties brave enough to risk the invective and take up this fight and citizens who will urge their parties to take action.  If local Republican establishments cannot be spurred to action, we need concerned citizens willing to make this stand on their own.  Making enemies is never easy, but those who want to heal this country, advance conservatism, or restore the power and credibility of the Republican Party have no choice.