William Jacobson on Citizens United, the Second Amendment, and more

William Jacobson, founder of the blog Photo: Photo used with permission of William Jacobson

FLORIDA, February 1, 2013 — Since it went online during late 2008, Legal Insurrection has established itself as a unique legal blog. With a focus on current events, and analyzation of these from a distinctively center-right perspective, it attracts no small number of readers. 

Aside from being a law professor at Cornell University, William Jacobson is the man behind Legal Insurrection. He explains his views about the economy, Citizens United, the Second Amendment, the legalization of gay marriage, and the idea of our Constitution being a living document.

He also tells us about what sort of freedom he believes the Constitution provides for, as well as a bit about his career.    


Joseph F. Cotto: America remains caught in the Great Recession’s clutches. What role should the government play in helping our country reclaim its economic vitality?

William Jacobson: I don’t agree that we are caught in the “Great Recession’s clutches.” The recession ended statistically in June 2009, before Obama’s policies took effect. We are in the clutches of the Great Failed Recovery due to Obama’s policies. The best thing the government can do is get out of the way and stop passing more laws and regulations which make it more difficult and costly to start new businesses and hire employees.
Cotto: Due to the Citizens United ruling, millions of Americans have become nervous about the influence which money plays in politics. Do you share these concerns? Or is Citizens United merely formalizing what has gone on under the table, so to speak, for generations? 

Jacobson: Money always has played a large role in politics. It simply was a question of how the system was played. Unions were and remain a huge force. Citizens United stated simply that individuals can come together to act, whether in the form of corporations or unions, jointly. That did change some of the election regulatory program, but it didn’t change anything in principle. The Democrats who are complaining are doing so only because it leveled the playing field.  
Cotto: The Second Amendment can be interpreted in many different ways. What are your views on the subject? 

Jacobson: That’s a pretty broad question. I think the Supreme Court in the Heller case got it right.

Cotto: Gay marriage is a highly contentious topic. During the years ahead, do you expect to see it legalized across the nation?

Jacobson: Unless the Supreme Court rules that the right for two people of the same sex to marry is a constitutional requirement, I expect more state-by-state initiatives and legislation. I don’t see the 30+ states that have enshrined the traditional definition of marriage in their constitutions and laws as changing, so the states will continue to be split.

Cotto: The debate over whether or not the Constitution is a living document seems to know no bounds. In a modern, pluralistic society such as ours, what would you say is the most practical method of interpreting our Constitution?

Jacobson: Look to the plain wording and original intent. Trying to divine some living notion simply is politics.

Cotto: The term “freedom” means different things to as many people. What sort of freedom would you say that the Constitution provides?

Jacobson: The Constitution gurantees against infringement of certain rights. To look at it as providing rights, in the absence of express wording to that effect, simply subsitutes the political process for the constitutional process.

Cotto: Tell us a bit about your life and career.

Jacobson: I am a clinical professor. What that means is that I not only teach a class I help supervise students learn through “clinical” work including representation of live clients. Prior to joining Cornell in 2007 I was in private practice for over 20 years in the field of investor and employment rights, mostly in the securities industry.

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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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