Lecture on the Structural Constitution

Courtesy of Noelia Veras and Theresa Whitfield

By Noelia Veras and Theresa Whitfield

Executive Vice President Leonardo Leo of the Federalist Society visited Catholic University last Wednesday to speak about the need to adhere to the structural constitution and how this adherence transpires in the judicial branch today.

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies aims to preserve freedom and uphold the separation of powers found in the Constitution. Leo’s talk specifically focused on their belief that the judicial branch should be objective about the law.

The event was held in the Columbus School of Law Slowinski Courtroom at 5 p.m. Approximately 50 people attended, and the vast majority of them were graduate students and professionals. President Garvey was in attendance and introduced the speaker, Leonard Leo.

Leo prefaced his lecture by emphasizing the role of the constitution in preserving freedom and preventing anarchy 232 years ago. He explained that the U.S. Constitution is a gift from the Founding Fathers, which enabled the prosperity of America. Leo also clarifies that the structural constitution is: the separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, and enumerated powers. Essentially, he says that the structural constitution encompasses the built-in restraints of government powers.

According to Leo, adherence to the structural constitution had been disappearing across all branches of the government for multiple decades. He explained that since the 1930s the federal courts have stopped enforcing the separation of powers. The courts have since expanded their powers in ways that are not listed in the Constitution causing the federal bureaucracy to gain a powerful and, according to Leo, unhealthy grip over the states.

“The structural constitution is incompatible with the structure of government that  has been built over the past 80+ years,” remarked Leo.

This movement towards being aware and conscious of the structural constitution is one which Leo says is extremely recent. Leo makes it especially important for the judicial branch since he believe the last line of defense is the federal judiciary. He says that it was not until about a decade ago that Supreme Court justices really began to place more value on the structural constitution.

He attributes the shift to four figures in American politics. These figures were former Supreme Court judge nominee Robert Bork, former attorney general Edwin Meese, former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and the final figure is justice Clarence Thomas. The four figures challenged the law and each aimed and continue to aim to reverse the wrongs of government and emphasize the need for the structural constitution and the importance of checks and balances.

“I think we’ve come to an extraordinary moment in the history of our republic,” said Leo. “After years of neglect the constitution is on the verge of regaining the respect of our nation’s courts. Few developments are more important to our people’s freedom, and our country’s future”

To the audience, Leo’s talk at face value seemed partisan. One of the questions posed by an audience member asked why adherence to the structural constitution is a priority only for conservatives when it should be a priority for both sides. He explained that at its core, the structural constitution is made to be unbiased.

Overall, Leo highlights the nature of the constitution and the new way in which the government is moving. The ultimate truth Leo seeks to tell is that people deserve freedom and a lack of censorship. With the concepts of the structural constitution and people implementing government control, according to Leo, people experience more freedom and fairness.

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