Harvard prof with $4 million home imagines future without yours
A constitutional law professor who teaches at Harvard says the COVID-19 pandemic provides a great opportunity for America: Replace the U.S. Constitution with a more “common-good” document and a more powerful government to enforce it.
Writing in The Atlantic, Harvard Professor Adrian Vermeule says the U.S. Constitution has “outlived its utility” and now the time has come for government to claim a more centralized role in people’s lives.
In the scholarly article, Professor Vermeule writes:
As for the structure and distribution of authority within government, common-good constitutionalism will favor a powerful presidency ruling over a powerful bureaucracy, the latter acting through principles of administrative law’s inner morality with a view to promoting solidarity and subsidiarity. The bureaucracy will be seen not as an enemy, but as the strong hand of legitimate rule.
It’s not clear from the article why this new self-described government “bureacracy” will not be seen as the “enemy” of the public nor what happens to people who do hold such a view of government’s “inner morality.” But there are some estimates about past results in history.
Elsewhere in the article, the professor imagines this newly realized American society would mean “Libertarian” concepts such as property rights and economic rights “will also have to go, insofar as they bar the state from enforcing duties of community and solidarity in the use and distribution of resources.”
A footnote to the article states it is part of “The Battle for the Constitution,” an ongoing project of The Atlantic that invites debate on the topic.
“He’s actually saying some things that I think are really, really scary,” observes civil liberty attorney John Whitehead, “like doing away with property rights, redistributing resources by the government.”
If the Harvard professor ever gives up his own property, he would be surrendering a nice accommodation: the professor lives in a 4,078-square-foot, five-bedroom home in Cambridge with an assessed value of $4.7 million, the City of Cambridge website shows.
Whitehead, a longtime advocate for constitutional liberties, and his Rutherford Institute often represent clients in cases where 4th Amendment rights are threatened by a bullying police officer, for example, or a school administrator has punished a child for exercising his 1st Amendment rights.
During the current pandemic, Whitehead is witnessing some of his worst fears being discussed — mandatory contract tracing, tip lines for snitching on neighbors, and screening checkpoints — in the name of public safety.
“As long as ‘we the people’ continue to allow the government to trample our rights in the so-called name of national security,” Whitehead writes, “things will get worse, not better.”
OneNewsNow reported this week that the health director for Ventura County, California announced COVID-19-posititive people would be removed from their homes if there are not enough bathrooms to keep family members separate.
“I’m telling you,” Whitehead tells OneNewsNow, “they’re using this coronavirus pandemic situation to push their agenda and it’s one of the most dangerous agendas I’ve seen in recent years.”
Regarding the professor’s open call for more government and less freedom, Whitehead says he was alarmed by the communist-sounding demands. It is even more alarming, he adds, that such beliefs are likely being taught to impressionable law students at the Ivy League school.
“If you don’t have property rights,” Whitehead warns, “that means you are the property of the government.”