Salon needs a Constitutional law class

May 6, 2022

By Tim Worstall

Salon thinks that if Roe v Wade goes then so will public education. Which is both very odd and also a marker of how little Salon knows about the American constitutional settlement. But that’s what they’re running with:

Life after Roe: Republicans are already targeting the right to a public education. Following Alito’s reasoning on Roe, public schools aren’t in the Constitution — and Republicans are now salivating…

Salon seems to believe  that Republicans are just evil types who would do anything.  But then, we expect that from Salon. What does shock us, as with so many media outlets now, is the ignorance of the way the American political settlement works. Quite seriously, ignorance:

The far-right Supreme Court has already elevated the claim that rights not explicitly named in the Constitution aren’t real. Now they may have an opportunity to declare that children do not have a right to education and states do not have an obligation to provide it.

There are a lot of things not in the Constitution that happen every day. That a concept, or right,  is not specified in the Constitution doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen. It just means that it’s not in the Constitution. Federal emission standards are not in the Constitution, but they exist.  That abortion – Roe v Wade – or public education so-called “rights” are not in the Constitution, they can still happen, as the last century has shown.

The Constitution also gives us a list of things governments can’t do to us – that Bill of Rights. It also give a list of things the federal government can do  – those enumerated powers. Everything else is, the Constitution says, left to the States or the people.

Which brings us to public education. It’s usually some mix of city or county level government with the state level subsidizing and/or regulating. School boards are elected positions. We have a system that organizes schools with nary a mention of the Constitution.  This will not change just because the Supreme Court changes its view on the right to privacy.

The Constitution isn’t about education or a federal power. Those are left to states and the people. So, we organize it, vote on it, pay for it, as we organize ourselves. That’s what the constitutional settlement is – the states or the people.

Salon is ranked 71 among media outlets for law and government. It gets some 8 million visits a month from people presumably seeking information on those subjects. It’s something of a pity that readers are not actually getting it correct.

There was a time when we all assumed that the American media knew something about the American system as they presented their reporting.

Perhaps that’s an assumption we should now abandon.


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