Is the Constitution Dead?

July 05, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

 

Supreme court

Justice Antonin Scalia has a habit of considering the intent of our Founding Fathers as he interprets the Constitution during a case. Many folks, particularly the liberal progressives who feel hampered by that pesky document, scoff at him and label him an "originalist". Heck, the NY Times even published an article describing what America would look like today if we followed Justice Scalia's originalism: we'd still have public floggings, slavery, death penalty for children and the mentally retarded.

Folks say the Constitution is outdated. We can't possibly judge today's situations based on 18th century values - values have changed. True, values HAVE changed, which explains much of the decline in the fabric of America. But to be more accurate, it's not the values that have changed - we still SHOULD be striving for equality, independence, liberty. It's the methods by which we live those values that has changed.

Yes, life has changed. Instead of Pony Express we have cell phones. Instead of horse trails we have an interstate system. Instead of going to town to visit the whore house, you can now bring your hooker right to your computer screen. But when a law is written into the Constitution, that law has a purpose. A changing language should never change that purpose, but unfortunately that's what has happened on a grand and escalating scale.

But if the law says a black man should only count as 3/5's of a person, how can we abide by that law? Ah, this is where the progressives get lost. No one (no, not even the originalists) believes the Constitution is fixed forever. Our Founding Fathers were smart enough to know that things change, and that they may have made mistakes in their laws. That's exactly why they gave us an amendment process. When a constitutional law no longer applies, you amend it. You NEVER take the "living document" approach and simply ignore it. And you NEVER circumvent the law simply by issuing a presidential executive order, as was recently done.

So Justice Scalia always tries to evaluate a case based on the intent of the law. One might think that leaves the door open for personal opinion, but just the opposite is true. There are stacks of historical records in which the Founding Fathers described their intent in writing each and every word of the Constitution. Scalia describes those documents in his opinions. However, once you move away from original intent, you do indeed open up the interpretation to your own political bent. That is obvious from the recent Obamacare decision, in which 4 democratic judges voted for and 4 republican judges voted against. Judge Roberts was the only one who didn't follow suit.

One of the primary purposes of the Constitution was to limit the powers of the central government that the Constitution created. When you put a wild animal in a cage, that animal will continually try to scratch his way out. Over time, that's exactly what our government has done - scratched away at those limitations. We have now gotten to the point where we have redefined those limiting words to make them quite harmless. The "Commerce Clause" and the "General Welfare" are now like a jail without a door.

How did we get here? The American public has sat by and watched as their liberties have been taken away one by one. They've watched as their constitutional protections have eroded away.  In fact, they've encouraged this erosion in return for government promises and handouts. But all promises have prices, and we are now starting to pay the piper. 


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