Harvard Law Professor Adrian Vermeule suggests using the Chinese virus pandemic as an excuse to establish a new interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, implementing policies that do away with concepts such as “free speech ideology” and “property rights.”
Adrian Vermeule, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, recently wrote a piece for the Atlantic in which he argues that traditional interpretations of the U.S. constitution have “now outlived its utility,” and that it is now time for the government to take a more centralized role in people’s lives.
Vermeule argues that “circumstances have now changed” due to the Chinese virus pandemic, and that it is now possible to imagine “moral” constitutionalism, which he says is not “enslaved to the original meaning of the Constitution,” and is also “liberated” from the narrative of “relentless expansion of individualistic autonomy.”
The professor is advocating for a new interpretation of the U.S. constitution, which he refers to as “common-good constitutionalism.”
“Such an approach,” wrote Vermeule, “should be based on the principles that government helps direct persons, associations, and society generally toward the common good, and that strong rule in the interest of attaining the common good is entirely legitimate.”
Vermeule also scrutinizes “the libertarian assumptions central to free-speech law and free-speech ideology,” which he says is “forbidden to judge the quality and moral worth of public speech,” and therefore, should “fall under the ax.”
The law professor even goes as far as stating that “property rights and economic rights will also have to go,” because they “bar the state from enforcing duties of community and solidarity in the use and distribution of resources.”
Vermeule claims that this “global pandemic” makes for the perfect opportunity to implement such strategies that grow government, insisting that “it has become clear that a just governing order must have ample power to cope with large-scale crises of public health and well-being.”
The professor also noted that when he says the government should get involved in “health,” he is referring to that “in many senses, not only literal and physical but also metaphorical and social.”
Vermeule even acknowledges that “the central aim of the constitutional order is to promote good rule, not to ‘protect liberty’ as an end in itself,” and that one common-good principle will be “that no constitutional right to refuse vaccination exists.”
“Constitutional law will define in broad terms the authority of the state to protect the public’s health and well-being, protecting the weak from pandemics and scourges of many kinds,” wrote Vermeule.
The professor even goes on to admit that implementing such principles would require overriding “selfish” claims of individuals to private rights, and that his interpretation of constitutional law means that “rulers” should be afforded a “broad scope.”
Vermeule insists that “these principles include respect for the authority of rule and of rulers,” the “respect for the legitimate roles of public bodies and associations at all levels of government and society,” and “a candid willingness to ‘legislate morality,’” among other concepts.