“I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.”
–Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Well, human nature being what it is, certain principles will never change. I’d perhaps do some translation, updating, perhaps even tightening — and other tweaking if I were to be charged with the task of drafting a new constitution for the Egyptians or even some extraterrestrial alien race. Ambition always needs to be checked against ambition, as Madison, et. al, recognized. But I’d look first to our Constitution as a model.
Beware above all, the man who says, “Give me supreme power but for a short time; and I can set the world aright.” Twenty-first Century Man, or any other race, whether here in the US or in Egypt or elsewhere, will eternally have to recon with this immutable iron fact.
The immediate flame of sudden passion, represented by Congress, should ever be checked by the more deliberative Senate. And to check both of them, some body of scholars, represented by a supreme judiciary, insulated from popular passion, is needed to keep the other two branches tethered to terra firma and Law.
Our Founders have already done the background research.
So you know, regardless of the context, I’d simply ask Justice Ginsberg what would cause her to utter such words without irony or at least without qualification. I don’t care if we were talking about a race of Martians. As for me, I’d look first at our Constitution as a model, for the reasons outlined above, and then I’d ask if the hypothetical race under discussion has somehow managed to transcend human vice and folly — and if therefore they have learned pure disinterested altruism. For without that, the whole damned lot of them will desperately and always need watchdogs aplenty.
Which is my entire point.
Sorry to mention the hypothetical drafting of a Constitution for extra-terrestrials. Just a Newt Gingrich brain fart.