Sep 17, 2013
05:51 AM
The Connecticut Story

It Was Gingrich vs. Amar, At Yale

It Was Gingrich vs. Amar, At Yale

Arnold Gold

Newt Gingrich (left) debates with Yale University professor of law and political science Akhil Reed Amar (right) on the topic, "What are the lessons of the Constitution?"

NEW HAVEN >> Conservative icon Newt Gingrich headlined a semantics showdown at Yale Monday night, debating the lessons of the U.S. Constitution with a respected Yale professor.

It had the vibe of a podium-based prize fight.

Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, argued that the framers of the Constitution fashioned a document that would establish order without a dictatorship and keep judges from having too much power.

“The founding fathers didn’t like judges and didn’t trust judges,” Gingrich said, bemoaning what he sees as today’s “idolatry” of the U.S. Supreme Court and politicians who “hide behind judges” when they can’t pass legislation on their own.

Yale’s Akhil Reed Amar, a lauded Constitutional law scholar, countered that the history of the Constitution is a history of greater national, liberal and egalitarian government.

“The Constitution is not a one-off event,” Amar said. “It’s an intergenerational project.”

The William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale organized the event, which kicked off a series of debates named in honor of the old political TV show, “Firing Line.” Buckley, the late author and National Review founder, was the host of that program.

Gingrich and Amar sparred on everything from the Second Amendment to the president’s authority under the War Powers Act, with side trips into NSA snooping and the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The most heated exchange came during debate over the U.S. Supreme Court’s striking down of portions of the Voting Rights Act.

“There are some members of your party who don’t seem so enthusiastic about the right to vote,” Amar said, asserting that some states are making it harder for citizens to cast their vote.

“I am fascinated with the left’s passion about the Voting Rights Act,” Gingrich replied. He argued that Democrats have shown no interest in developing an efficient mechanism that guarantees ballots are being cast by eligible voters.

For the full article, visit New Haven Register online.


It Was Gingrich vs. Amar, At Yale

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