Government Shutdown: Not the Constitution’s Fault

Blogging for Oxford University Press, Associate Professor of Government Elvin Lim writes that modern commentators are wrong to blame the Constitution for government’s failures, such as the recent government shutdown. In fact, he writes, the Constitution was designed to prevent a small faction, like the modern-day Tea Party, from exerting too much control over the workings of government.

Writes Lim: “So when President Barack Obama proclaimed that ‘one faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn’t get to shut down the entire government just to refight the results of an election,’ he was on very firm constitutional ground, and pointedly — I think also consciously — using ‘faction’ exactly as the framers intended it in the eighteenth-century sense. Today’s self-proclaimed ‘originalists’ are picking and choosing what part of history to affirm. ‘Faction’ and ‘partisanship’ were foul words to the framers, for precisely the reasons we are experiencing today. President Obama has no obligation, under the original meaning and intent of the Constitution, to negotiate with a faction; indeed he in on good ground to try to rein it in.”