More Federalist Capers
The law professor who argued in favor of Alabama's moment-of-silence law before the U.S. Supreme Court last year has gone to court in Louisiana to force public high schools in the state to offer courses on a subject near and dear to the heart of Secretary of Education William J. Bennett--the Federalist Papers.
John S. Baker Jr., professor of constitutional law at Louisiana State University, contends in his suit that high schools in the state are ignoring a 1948 law mandating that they teach courses on the 85 political essays, which were written nearly 200 years ago by three of the nation's founding fathers--Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison.
"I teach constitutional law and I found over the years that students know very little about the Constitution," said Mr. Baker, who has filed suit against the Louisiana Department of Education in a state court.
He said he learned of the little-known statute regarding the Federalist Papers after being invited to serve on a state committee to select social-studies textbooks for public high schools.
According to Mr. Baker, if students were exposed to the thinking of the founding fathers by studying the Federalist Papers, they would understand "just how far the federal judiciary has strayed" from the founders' intentions on such matters as the relationship between government and religion and the role of the federal courts.
Several weeks ago, Secretary Bennett gained widespread attention for teaching courses on the political treatises to students in seven cities across the nation. Coincidentally, the first stop on the tour was in Shreveport, La.
"Mr. Baker? Oh, he's something of a hero around here," said Loye W. Miller, a spokesman for Mr. Bennett. According to Mr. Miller, when the Secretary first read an account of Mr. Baker's legal battle, he called several aides into his office, read the press report to them, "and chuckled."
"He was very tickled to learn of it," Mr. Miller said. "Basically, the feeling is, 'All power to him."'