The Faith of a Liberal: Selected Essays by Morris R. Cohen

By Morris R. Cohen | Go to book overview

19
CONSTITUTIONAL AND NATURAL RIGHTS IN 1789 AND SINCE

ALL PEOPLES have pious fictions and sacrosanct expressions which make free thought and honest speech seem improper. This is true even among people noted for their progress in science and technology. Thus Japanese engineers or military commanders must always speak of their successful achievements as due to the virtue of the Emperor, and our sober British cousin must attribute everything to the pleasure of His Majesty, the King. The King is always pleased to sign the appropriation bills, though he would lose his job if he did not. And woe to the Chancellor of the Exchequer who should wish to allude to the latter fact realistically! Can it be that we too in the United States have such fictions? Men who dare to call the Emperor naked when he has no clothes have been pointing out that time-honored national dogmas in regard to our constitutional system are full of logical fallacies and historical errors. It is therefore the business of scholars or those engaged in weighing evidence to examine these issues critically, regardless of the fact that for doing so they may be called unpatriotic by ignorant men in popularly influential positions.


The Constitution and the Will of the People

It has become customary to assert that our constitutional law is the solemn will of the people expressed in the written Con-

____________________
Published in National Lawyers Guild Quarterly, Vol. 1, p. 92 ( 1938).

-175-

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