Fourteen Clear Factual Errors in Richard Stengel’s Essay on the Constitution (And I Am Looking for Your Help)
On June 23, 2011, Time magazine published an essay entitled “One Document, Under Siege” (one page version, here) by Richard Stengel. I consider the publication of this article to be nothing less than a scandal. Besides the deep philosophical disagreements I have with Mr. Stengel, the piece simply fails as journalism. As I will demonstrate in this post, there were fourteen objectively verifiable errorsin Mr. Stengel’s piece, half of which could have been discovered simply by reading the Constitution itself.
I will lay out all of the false claims and evidence in a moment, but let me preview the most egregious error in the article, when Mr. Stengel wrote this:
If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn’t say so.
As one commenter wrote: “I had to read it twice to believe my eyes. Time really did say this.” And while I will prove definitively in a moment that he is wrong, I suspect every single person reading this knows it already.
The fact that this and thirteen other egregious errors appeared in Time at all is bad enough. But further, it was a cover story:
And look at the top left corner. This is their history issue.
It is also scandalous because of who wrote the piece. The author is not only the Managing Editor for Time, but he spent two years as President and CEO of the National Constitution Center. And even today, he works with the National Constitution Center’s Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution, whose stated mission is “to help both professional journalists and students interested in journalism understand constitutional issues more deeply.” That is right. He is there to help journalists understand the Constitution better.
So I will present to you fourteen clear errors Mr. Stengel has made in his article, starting with the most egregious errors. Here are the fourteen errors, in short:
- The Constitution does not limit the Federal Government.
- The Constitution is not law.
- The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment emancipated the slaves.
- The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment granted the right to vote to African Americans.
- The original Constitution declared that black people were to be counted as three-fifths of a person.
- The original, unamended Constitution prohibited women from voting.
- The Commerce Clause grants Congress the power to tax individuals based on whether they buy a product or service.
- Inter arma enim silent leges translates as “in time of war, the Constitution is silent.”
- The War Powers Act allows the president to unilaterally wage war for sixty days.
- We have only declared war five times.
- Alexander Hamilton wanted a king for America.
- Social Security is a debt within the meaning of Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Naturalization depends on your birth.
- The Obamacare mandate is a tax.
When I am done with this post, I am going to make a bleg where I ask you to try to help get out the word about this egregiously incorrect cover story. So stay tuned to the end (or jump ahead if you feel like it).
But first here, point-by-point, is proof that each one of those claims are incorrect.
False Claim #1: The Constitution does not limit the Federal Government.
Just a word for Mr. Stengel and Time magazine, this is our founding document, written by men more intelligent and relevant than you can ever hope to be. We don’t need your half-assed interpretation of it’s meaning, we know what it means and what it stands for and TRUE AMERICANS (unlike yourselves) will defend it to their last breath.
Tom in NC