Rand Paul’s 1792 Constitutional Utopia?

September 15th, 2014

The Washington Post has a lengthy profile of Rand Paul, cataloguing his various changing positions on policies. One of the quotations, from an anonymous “friend,” focuses on what Paul’s “utopia” would be:

“I think that Rand has a picture of what a utopia would look like,” the friend added. “And he’s very realistic about how long it would take to get there.”

So what is that utopia, in Paul’s mind? His friend said it would look like 1792, with the government that existed just after the Constitution was ratified.

“You’d have a smaller federal government, where the presidency is probably the weakest branch; you’d have a robust Congress, led by the House of Representatives,” the friend said. “You’d probably have a heck of a lot less taxes.”

The friend said that in Paul’s ideal world, unlike in the real 1792, there would not be slavery.

1792, huh? I suspect this friend doesn’t know Paul as closely as Paul knows the Constitution, for the Junior Senator from Kentucky–a student of Randy Barnett’s–has a deep and profound respect for the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868.

During his drone filibuster, Paul cited at great length Barnett’s work, which focus not just on the 1789 Constituiton, or the 1791 Constitution, but the complete Constitution with the Reconstruction amendments. (Yes, this would cover slavery). Here he waxes on the Privilege or Immunities Clause–serious stuff:

Last year and the last couple years we had two cases on gun rights, the second amendment. These are called Heller and McDonald. Both of them I think can be seen as – once again an expansion of the Fourth Amendment to say, your privileges and immunities, which are part of the Fourth Amendment, include the Second Amendment and they include certain rights. In fact, I think any power or any right not given up to the government or limited by the enumerated powers is yours. So when they say the privileges and immunities of the Fourth Amendment, I believe that means everything else. What does that mean? It means I believe in a very circumscribed view for government.

I’ve been impressed by Paul’s grasp of constitutional law–particularly for a non-lawyer.