Our 'Constitutional Moment'

Seth Lipsky is a lifelong conservative journalist, former editor of the now shuttered New York Sun, and currently a contributing editor at the Wall Street Journal.

In this interview with the Journal's James Taranto, Lipsky offers a trenchant analysis of where America stands today:

Seth Lipsky has a knack for seeing the bright side of things. A nearly 20-year veteran of this newspaper, including its editorial page, he cheerfully acknowledges the obvious: This is far from a golden age of free-market conservatism. Of President Obama, he tells me over lunch, "I sense that he has a very leftist, socialist-oriented worldview."

Yet this makes Mr. Lipsky anything but grim: "I for one find this very exciting. . . . We're just at a great moment."

Why? Because, he says, "America is in what I call a constitutional moment." Mr. Obama's efforts to expand government power raise basic questions about the constitutional limits of that power. "The enumerated-powers argument is enormous," Mr. Lipsky says. "It's just enormous, the ground that is open for contest here. . . . Right now, we're at a moment where we're not going to be able to turn to either the Congress or the executive branch for help on this." He believes "the only defense now, the only tool we have now, is the Constitution. That's why I call it a constitutional moment, as opposed to a political moment."

Lipsky's enthusiasm for the Constitution goes back a ways - back to his days when he would fire off memos to the editorial department urging them to use our founding document in their writing:

"For years I've been sending memos to people who worked for me-desk editors, reporters, editorial writers-constantly trying to raise their consciousness about the usefulness of the Constitution in editorial work," he says. "Usually these memos that I would send would be simple memos, like, 'Where the hell does the Congress get the power to do that?' or, 'The New York Sun will not carry a dispatch about the Second Amendment which does not quote Justice Story as saying the Second Amendment is the palladium of our liberties.'"

It would be useful if there were several dozen Lipsky's in the newsrooms of America right about now. In fact, it would be great if Lipsky could set up shop at the US Capitol and send his missives about the Constitution to a few Congressmen as well.

Hat Tip: Mark Fitzgibbons