Linda Greenhouse Celebrates the Shifting Constitution, Denigrates Free-Speech Decision on Campaign Finance

Linda Greenhouse, the Times' former Supreme Court reporter and confessed liberal, describes the Constitution as a document that moves with the Times: "...the Constitution is a participant in a continual dialogue between past and present. A reading of the text that ignores that fact is...simplistic and sterile."
In her online column on Thursday, "Problems of Democracy," former Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse argued for the liberal view of the Constitution as a "living document" (albeit not in so many words) that can be adapted to the times, and came out against the Court's free-speech decision on campaign finance loathed by liberals and President Obama.

After referencing liberal law professor Laurence Tribe, author of the recent book "Invisible Constitution," she elaborated:

You don't have to believe in a "living Constitution," the object of Justice Antonin Scalia's scorn ("Go back to the good old dead Constitution," he told NPR in 2008), to recognize that, however labeled, the Constitution is a participant in a continual dialogue between past and present. A reading of the text that ignores that fact is as simplistic and sterile an exercise as my long-ago homework assignment, minus the professor's ironic goal of forcing the students to see just how little they understood. Of course, we spent the ensuing semester - and, for many, the intervening years - trying to fathom the mysteries of what had seemed so straightforward on that first night.

At the end, Greenhouse's discussion took an anti-conservative turn (Greenhouse made her hard-left views on abortion and other matters public in front of a Harvard audience in June 2006).

Last month, before the new Congress opened for business, Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and the soon-to-be chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to 150 companies and trade associations asking them to let him know about any federal regulations that they would like to see removed. Perhaps Mr. Issa was emboldened to send such a letter by the business-friendly vibrations emanating from the Supreme Court these days. It was just last January, in the Citizens United case, that the court granted corporations a robust First Amendment right, as citizens, to spend money in support of or against candidates in federal elections.

House Republicans could read the Constitution every day between now and July 4 without finding a word about corporate citizenship. Funny, but it just doesn't seem to be there. Call it a problem of democracy.