An ongoing discussion of politics, law, pop culture, and fine draperies.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

In case you're still wondering who Skowronek is ...

I finally figured out how to post documents, like unpublished papers, on here.

Here is a paper I wrote for my 3L (third year of law school) seminar, which turned out to be one of my favorite classes in school.

Anyway, the paper focused on CERCLA -- the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compesnation and Liabilty Act of 1980 -- as an example of what happens when proponents of a prevailing Constitutional regime realize that they are about to lose everything and yet they still haven't enacted all of the legislation they deem vital. Such was the case in 1979-80, when the Democratic majorities in both Houses couldn't reach consensus with President Carter over how punitive and how comprehensive their toxic waste regulation law should look. As Carter's reelection prospects began to appear worse and worse, the Congressional Democrats scrambled to get ANYTHING passed in time for Carter to sign it (Reagan vowed a veto).

I mention it now because I borrow HEAVILY from the guy I seem to be citing more and more in my pieces on Al Gore's presidential prospects for the 2008 election. The guy, Professor Stephen Skowronek, casts all presidents' success in light of their a). relationship to the prevailing regime, and b). the resilience/public opinion of that prevailing regime in the time leading up to the election.

Here is moreabout the text.

In particular, note in Gore's context:

- the last "Reconstructive President," Reagan, came to the fore in the 1970s, which "... yielded “a sectarian politics,” whose 'liberalism was on the defensive, [yet whose] organizing impulses it had unleashed continued unabated.'"

- "... a president’s ability to exact a lasting impact on American constitutional understanding depends more upon the contexts of the time in which he ascends than on any individual qualities he brings to the office."

- "Skowronek suggests that 'the American presidency has proven itself most effectively politically as an instrument of negation.'"

Anyway, I will leave it at this, ask you to ponder, consider, ruminate, etc. And Comment. There is much more to discuss on this point ...


Anonymous Timmy B said...

One of the things I took away from my class on Consitutional law was how profoundly the Court's and (to an even greater extent) the President relies on public opinion to interpret the Constitution. I have been around Conservatives my whole life and Conservatives tend to cannonize rules and laws. I hadn't realized how much the law says what the people says it says.

It is here where I see a new "Reconstructive president" emerging. The absolute horrid mess that is the Federal Government is galvanizing the already 55% of the country opposed to conservative ideology. If the Republicans can screw up Roe v Wade before the 2008 election (thanks South Dakots "Christians"), the Republicans will experience a Goldwater-esque defeat. It will be the final defeat of the unholy colaition between the gilded class and the polyester class.

The new President will have the oppotunity to create a new governing coalition based upon conservative excess (hello, TR) and a reflection of a new understanding of what the law says.

The institutions of this country, despite the damage since 2000, are quite strong. An agent of change harnessing the popular will would be very welcome.

9:44 AM


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