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Posts Tagged ‘Menken Rocks’

1930 OWHolmes

Certainly the one who did the most damage to the federalist character of the Republic.  I came across H.L. Mencken’s criticism of Holmes, and it put me in mind of a Reeses’ cup.  The combo of Mencken’s wit, scorn, and insight is the chocolate paired perfectly against Holmes’ rhetorical peanut butter.  You know, if peanut butter were made of illogical hogwash.

Mencken is exactly right to suggest that Holmes deference to legislative will incorrectly supposes that the legislature is the voice of the people.

The weak spot in his reasoning, if I may presume to suggest such a thing, was his tacit assumption that the voice of the legislature was the voice of the people. There is, in fact, no reason for confusing the people and the legislature: the two, in these later years, are quite distinct. The legislature, like the executive, has ceased, save indirectly, to be even the creature of the people: it is the creature, in the main, of pressure groups, and most of them, it must be manifest, are of dubious wisdom and even more dubious honesty. Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle- a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.

And that was written in 1930.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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