Georgetown Law Professor Rosa Brooks: The Problem is the Constitution Which Enslaves Us

Georgetown University Law School Professor Rosa Brooks has drawn accolades and criticism for her appearance on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” after declaring that Americans are “slaves” to the U.S. Constitution and that the Constitution itself is now the problem for the country.

Brooks was criticizing gun rights generally and, by extension, the Second Amendment decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen: 

“I was thinking, boy, those sounds are like the sounds you hear in war zones. And there are people all over the world who have lived during armed conflicts, and when does the mortar fall on your house, when does the soldier or the tank come down the street and just kill you. We are now living in that world, too, and we have brought it on ourselves. We can’t say, oops, it’s the Russians’ fault. They shouldn’t have invaded us.

This is us. This is 100% us, and it’s because we are essentially slaves to a document that was written more than 230 years ago by a tiny group of white slave-owning men. And we cannot break out of the bondage that we have imposed on ourselves from feeling like we have to– everything by our Supreme Court is decided in reference to this ancient document which is just not serving us well. It is causing enormous problems and enormous tragedies at this point.”

Brooks is not alone in saying that the Constitution is the work of racists and is the source of many of our problems. CBS recently featured Boston University Professor Ibram X. Kendi, who proclaimed that the Second Amendment was little more than “the right to enslave.”

MSNBC commentator and the Nation’s Justice Correspondent Elie Mystal has called the U.S. Constitution “trash” and argued that we should ideally just dump it. Mystal, who also writes for Above the Law, previously stated that white, non-college-educated voters supported Republicans because they care about “using their guns on Black people and getting away with it.

It appears that the Constitution became the problem when a majority of justices dared to follow an opposing interpretation. That is not how a constitutional system works. You do not support it so long as it yields to your demands or views. It is a crisis of faith that I have previously discussed but it is most alarming when voiced by law professors.

Recently, I criticized fellow Georgetown Law Professor Josh Chafetz who supported more “aggressive” protests targeting justices “when the mob is right.” Such voices are common at Georgetown and other law schools. What is not common are conservative or libertarian voices including the voice of Professor Ilya Shapiro who was effectively forced off the faculty due to a controversial tweet.

As discussed earlier, the Madisonian democracy is based on the premise that, despite our factional divisions, the Constitution creates an interest in all groups in preserving the system. While the Constitution does not guarantee that your views will prevail in Congress or the courts, it has proven the most stable and successful democratic system in history.  We are all invested in that system which has achieved transformative changes over time in our laws and our society.

Professor Brooks is correct when she says that “This is us. This is 100% us.” It is about a common article of faith not with our government but with each other. These are the voices of the faithless. However, most Americans retain a faith in the Constitution. It is in our DNA precisely because it is about us and our common commitment to live by these constitutional principles that have long defined us.

302 thoughts on “Georgetown Law Professor Rosa Brooks: The Problem is the Constitution Which Enslaves Us”

  1. Are these lawyer violating the oath they took at the time they were admitted to the Bar? Ohio’s oath is:

    I, ____________________, hereby (swear or affirm) that I will support the Constitution and the laws of the United States and the Constitution and the laws of Ohio, and I will abide by the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.

    In my capacity as an attorney and officer of the Court, I will conduct myself with dignity and civility and show respect toward judges, court staff, clients, fellow professionals, and all other persons.

    I will honestly, faithfully, and competently discharge the duties of an attorney at law. (So help me God.)

    I can’t swear to it, but I think most states have something similar.

    Does her rant about the Constitution constitute a violation of her oath?

    1. Exactly! I think her declaration should close off any future federal appointments as she cannot take this oath:

      “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter…”

    2. It’s similar to the oath I took in California when I was admitted to the Bar in 1976. This is an effort by the Dems/libs/progressives to destroy the institutions of this country, starting with the Constitution by calling it racist, that the Founders were racist, that all the institutions of the country are racist, and anyone who disagrees with them is racist. They’ve used the word ‘Racist’ so many times that it no longer has any meaning.

      1. Bravo —- ‘they’ve used the word ‘racist’ so many times that it no longer has any meaning’

  2. What the left fails to understand, the Constitution was crafted to create a federal govt to accomplish limited enumerated powers. That structure was to assure the States, functioning well for over a century, but understanding, for the good of the group, a federal govt was needed to represent the will of the States. The Bill of Rights was added after the constitution was sent to the States for ratification. The need for the BoR was to calm the fears of the people of the states, that a federal govt, with no checks and balances would abuse the citizens. As was the norm in history. The norm for rule by royalty. The norm for Great Britain. So the BoR further barred specific actions not available to the new Federal Govt.
    All those protections to protect the people from the government.

    Yet the left wants all of those protections eliminated. Trading the hard work of legislating, first at the State Level, then at the Federal, to rule by unelected Judges.

    Its just insane.

    1. Insane, perhaps. One might offer a few alternative words to describe it, such as Marxian, Lenin-ist, authoritarian/totalitarian, Stalinesque, Putin-esque as well, Idi Amin-ism, But insane by any other name is good enough for starters…..

    2. If you believe “the left wants all of those protections eliminated,” then you’re deluding yourself.

  3. Well, I must be one of those “stupid” people who can’t vote democrat. I just do not find anyone. And if there are only extremist republicans, I will not be able to vote for them either. I don’t just vote R or D. Also, our constitution is 241 years old to the “smart” Georgetown professor. I prefer living under a tried and true constitution as opposed to a new constitution written during every administration or governing group like some countries. I cannot imagine our “leaders” writing such a document in this day and age. They may have degrees and think they are intellectually “smaht” but I agree with Peggy Noonan on that one. They may be “smaht” but they lack any common sense.

  4. I love it when the radical law professor exercises her rights guaranteed under the US Constitution to denigrate that same Constitution. Oh on an unrelated note, can i get a drawing of Rosy here to put next to the word “hypocrisy” in the dictionary?

  5. Prof Turley is a man steeped in the law and in the civility of human conduct. Unfortunately, our country has reached a point where such gentility is not effective against the rage of our adversaries. Prof Turley writes that Prof Brooks is “faithless” but much more important is the fact that she holds an important teaching position, with considerable authority, from which she can teach aspiring law students to be equally faithless. She is an influencer of considerable stature and her words and attitude matter because of the authority she represents. Who in Georgetown or its Law School will publicly say that Prof Brooks does not represent either the school or the Dept and that her words are repugnant? Prof Turley’s analysis of those words are necessary but given the nature of the struggle going on in our country, insufficient.

  6. Does the Constitution pay slave reparations in Crypto or Large unmarked bills?

    1. When Egypt is held financial accountable for enslaving Hebrews and others for better than 400 years, then the subject of financial reparations in America will become viable, not until then.

  7. Rosa Brooks is welcome in Venezuela. So is President Biden who wants to buy oil from Venezuela.

    “We have chosen to be at the forefront of building a new world order and a new humanity. We chose to articulate them with all the forces that in Russia, Asia, Africa, Europe, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean believe in that path,” he said.

    In addition to emerging as multicentric, the new world order under construction will facilitate the formation of “a planet without hegemonic empires” where all countries will respect each other as equals.

    1. I can’t believe Maduro is still alive. If this were still the 1950’s or 60’s, the CIA would have taken him out long ago. Regime-change the old-fashioned way.

  8. God’s have to live. So do Constitutions. Last I checked there were amendments. The original Constitution was a starting point needing further refinement. And then more refinement after that. Jefferson’s cautions have been borne out.

    1. You are certainly correct. If you disagree with a provision in the constitution, seek an amendment. That is a far cry from seeking a ruling from a federal court that the constitution says what you want it say, or contains rights that do not exist. Our form of government allows you to amend the primary binding document if and when you gather enough citizen support to pass an amendment.

      1. “If you disagree with a provision in the constitution, seek an amendment.”

        Then pass an amendment giving government the authority to control a woman’s body, health care, future. Until then, there is no such authority — for *any* government.

        1. Sam, isn’t your solution the exact solution we have today? The only difference is the abortion provision will be in the constitution of the states, where it belongs.

  9. Professor Brooks might want to remember that the Constitution provides a platform for her to claim that “we are slaves” to the Constitution. I do not consider myself a slave and honor the Constitution.

  10. A fitting headline given the metastatic cancer in our country:

    American Grand Strategy: Disguising Decline
    The United States is in retreat, defeat, or stalemate everywhere, whether in the military arena or in the realm of trade and industrial production

    The Judeo-Christian perspective, the American tradition, and many other religious traditions, call on people to look inwardly, make an honest, fearless moral inventory, as espoused by the 12 Step programs that help addicts, and take the necessary steps to fix oneself. For the past several decades, starting with Bill Clinton, American presidents, and Members of Congress, have blamed everyone but themselves for the decline of our country. Donald Trump and Joe Biden are cut from the same cloth. Worse, now “adults” have a platform on the internet to call attention to themselves, their “plight”, their “grievance”, and demand renumeration, “justice” and/or reparations. These are the way of cowards. You can not fix the world until you fix yourself. Offspring (children) in their teens and 20s are largely responsible for the upward trend in violent crime: white, hispanic, black, asian, all are products of their home life. No government program, no federal law, no political party can fix America until Americans get serious about their own households. Start there. Then we can collectively fix our country.

    With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

    President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
    United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., March 4, 1865

  11. “[The Constitution] is causing enormous problems” for those of us who are the Voice of the people — and who, as that Voice, deserve total control.

    Scratch an anti-Constitutionalist, and you get a tyrant.

    1. On a small scale, just look at what a left leaning, democrat controlled city looks like and you’ll get a glimpse of her Ivory Tower lofty ideas in action.

  12. Easy fix for these intellectuals. Leave. Plenty of countries they can go to. I would rule out Sharia countries though. They have real slaves though.

    1. Harder but more patriotic fix for those who love the US: stay and try to fix the problems.

  13. Why is it that people from every part of the world are clamoring to get into this nation? It would do Americans good to spend a few years, at street level with people from all over the world in their countries, living among rank and file citizens. Not on a guided tour only, much more and with only limited communication back home so that they are given a chance to cut their ties and assimilate with the locals.

    The genius of this nation is that the individual is given the opportunity to achieve their full potential. The individual citizen is to be given the same power in the voting booth as the wealthy citizen and never to tip their hat to a leader but that the leader should be servants to the citizens. That is how it is intended. The people who forged this nation, who witnessed and understood the mechanics of tyranny, who shed blood to break its shackles, who suffered so that others could be given opportunity to reach their potential understood that at his heart, man is capable of great evil. The checks and balances are there for a good reason.

    The wheels of justice turn slowly but the construct of this nation is intended that all humans are given the opportunity for life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. This is the heart of the matter and is foundational.

    The recent Supreme Court rulings are simply returning decisions back to the legislative process. If the people decide on a thing, then it will be the law of the land. Non-elected individuals and agencies wield far too much power outside the legislative process. Let the people decide.

    1. “Non-elected individuals and agencies wield far too much power outside the legislative process.”

      Some not even in this country.

    2. What did Mohammed Ali say upon his first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa? Thnak God my Great-great grandfather got on that boat. Would anyone/someone please apprise me as to a more benovelent nation on earth than the USA has been to this planet?

  14. It’s likely that constitutional scholars (both liberal and conservative) would unanimously agree that the U.S. Constitution promotes “Freedom of Religion and Freedom From Religion” (ie: First Amendment and Article VI) and does NOT support “theocracy” (government imposes religion onto it’s citizens).

    Most constitutional scholars would also likely agree that the practices of “18th Century Redcoats” performing warrantless searches, blacklisting and guilt by association is also contrary to everything America stands for.

    So far, in the 21st Century, America has largely abandoned this unique American value. Maybe start here, with what we know is contrary to America’s constitutional rule of law and both liberals and conservatives agree with? Call out unAmerican theocratic minded officials and start obeying the 4th Amendment (ie: outlaw Cointelpro style blacklisting and warrantless domestic spying).

  15. Well, I guess with this declaration Professor Brooks precludes any future appointment in the US Government, as she can no longer truthfully take the oath:

    “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter…”

  16. “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic…”

  17. You are not a slave, at least not to the Constitution. If you do not like the second amendment, if you think it is outdated and dangerous in modern times, AMEND THE CONSTITUTION TO DO AWAY WITH IT. The Constitution is a legal framework that protects minority rights, but it allows a type of supermajority to modify its terms. This process was used on something as trivial as outlawing booze. This process could easily be used to outlaw guns too. If you don’t like guns, if you want the government to have a monopoly on violence, start doing the hard work to convince your fellow citizens across the country that guns should be outlawed. The second amendment is there and it is clear. Heller’s interpretation of it as a personal right is logical from both a grammatical and historical perspective. The Founders wanted an armed populace. If you think the Founders were wrong, they left you a roadmap. Take it.

    1. The Heller decision in my view was flawed because it confused the means with the end of the 2nd Amendment. The end was to secure a well-organised militia and thereby to preclude entire reliance on a Federal standing army to defend the country. The means to help secure this end was to prevent the Federal government from disarming the populace, which would constitute the militia.

      This end is no longer of relevance, and in any event to the extent it retains relevance is little served by any right to bear arms in self defence. In fact, the precise weapons that would be useful in defence of the country are now excluded under Heller as “dangerous and unusual.”

      So, in my view, once the means ceased to be tied to the end the 2nd Amendment was intended to serve, it became a dead letter.

      That having been said, the idea that the 2nd Amendment as interpreted by Heller as a right to bear arms in self defence is somehow racist is absurd. As Heller, McDonald and Bruen make clear, before and after reconstruction the right of blacks to bear arms in self defence against southern militias and vigilante groups was often cited by the progressives of the day as being essential. Justice Thomas in particular was excoriating in his criticism of Cruickshank, which decided the other way. And as the black neighbourhoods of Democrat-run cities continue to be mired in gun violence, the ability of the majority of law-abiding blacks to arm themselves in self defence is arguably of even greater significance than ever.

      1. Your statement “The end was to secure a well-organised militia and thereby to preclude entire reliance on a Federal standing army to defend the country” is mistaken. That phrase “well-organized” is synonymous with “well-trained”. If there is a flaw in our current set of laws, it is that typically no training is required to bear arms. I would gladly accept a training stipulation to gun ownership, which would ensure gun owners knew how to handle their firearms and also provide a mechanism for weeding out the nutters and criminals who should not bear arms.

        1. Still has nothing to do with the militia. Training may be a good idea as a condition to gun ownership, but this is disconnected to staffing a militia which is no longer relevant so it ceases in my view to be connected to the Constitution.

      2. It is not Heller that confused “means” and “ends.” It was the Constitution. The first phrased “well regulated militia” stated the reason the right existed, but the second phrase “the right of the people” clearly and unmistakably created a personal right. Just because you (or 5 justices for that matter) deem the need for a militia to be over does not extinguish that personal right. The only way to extinguish that personal right is to amend the Constitution. You cannot wish it away by referencing changing times or even emanations or penumbras. Convince the legislatures of three fourths of the several states that things need to change.

        1. I disagree. First of all, the Constitution did not create the right; it pre-existed the Constitution, as Heller says. Secondly, the reason the right was constitutionalised was to preserve the militia; once that reason ceased to have any force, the right should no longer be protected by the Constitution.

          Gun ownership would then be subject to Federal legislation to the extent permitted by the commerce clause, and to state legislation. Just like abortion. Those who want a different rule could amend the Constitution to delete the militia concept and add self- defence and other lawful purposes.

          It took more than 200 years for the Supreme Court to discover a personal right of self-defence in the 2nd Amendment.

    2. The Dems/libs/progressives don’t want to amend the Constitution because they think it’s too hard. Article 5 provides, “ The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

      It takes two-thirds of both houses to amend it, or two-thirds of the State legislatures calling for a Convention for proposing Amendments, and the amendments proposed by the Convention require three-fourths vote of the states for ratification.

      The Dems/libs/progressives can’t get the two-thirds vote Freon each house, nor the two-thirds of the state legislatures to call for a convention, let alone three-quarters of the states to approve their proposals.

      If they can’t get their way, they would rather destroy it.

  18. Wasn’t it the main issue two years ago that President was accused of not abiding by the Constitution?? Miralced never endm do they??

    1. All Presidents have a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution while in office. Trump is still being accused of acting contrary to his oath and perhaps will be indicted for some of his actions.

      The First Amendment protects most — but not all — speech, including criticizing the Constitution. There is a difference between speech criticizing the Constitution and acting contrary to the Constitution, especially for those who have a sworn duty to uphold it.

    2. Trump was accused of violating the Constitution by crazies. He did not violate the Constitution.

      Biden has been accused of violating the Constitution and not following the law. Both are true. The immigration laws are not being followed and there is an invasion from the south affecting the American people. Biden should be impeached for his lack of action on the border.

  19. I agree with Turley only for the reason of stability. One never knows where revolution (such as is suggested by those who would ditch the Constitution) will lead. See the French Revolution of 1789 and the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. Hopefully, a new class of Justices will return the law to rationality. But, unfortunately, not for a looong time.

    1. If you read the Roe decision, you will see that the decision overturning Roe returned the law to rationality.

      1. If you read the dissent in Dobbs, you will see that it did not.

            1. Wrong.

              As usual, absent proof and argument. Just foolish talk that leads nowhere.

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