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Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/12/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,071 times Debate No: 14751
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




Throughout the history of the United States the interpretation of the Constitution has been debated. With the recently passed Health Care Law, the question of the federal mandate comes to the topic of the Constitution. Will the Supreme Court rule in favor of the Hamiltonian, loose interpretation of the Constitution? Or will it side with the Jeffersonian, strict interpretation? I believe it will side with the Loose view.


First of all I would like to state that times have changed since the constitution was written and so has the interpretation "strict" and "loose" have both changed since those times.
Secondly, for my part of the debate, I wil define a "strict interpretation". A strict interpretation of the constitution allows for the Federal Government to have the power to do exactly as the constituion says.

-Other wise known as the "Elastic Cluase" the constituion in Article One Section Eight states....."To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers..."
Now, although The Nessary and Proper clause is typically considered a loose interpretation aspect, considering it is listed explicitly in the constituion, it applies to my side of the debate.
My arguement Is that is the National Government sees it fit to give people in the United States then they are allowed to do so. They have not broken any laws passing this health care bill. You can't really argue that it doesn't say "Thy Governement shall give permission to dictact Universial HealthCare in the united states..." because back when it was written, health care to them was a local doctor or thier wife. The Elastic clause allows them to stict to the words of the constitution and to help people for what they see fit.
Debate Round No. 1


First I would like to thank my opponent for accepting the challenge. I would also like to state that the Elastic Clause, a.k.a. the Necessary and Proper Clause, Basket Clause, the Coefficient Clause, and the Sweeping Clause applies to my argument of a loose interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Also involved is the General Welfare Clause which is part of the Taxing and Spending Clause in Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
  • The creation of the National Bank- Alexander Hamilton argued the Necessary and Proper Clause during debate of the bank bill that was sent to George Washington during the Washington administration. Hamilton claimed that the Bank was necessary to execute the power of collecting taxes and duties and borrowing. Washington took Hamilton's side by signing the bill. The Supreme Court took Hamilton's side as well in the case of McCulloch v. Maryland 17 U.S. 4 Wheat. 316 316 (1819) Court Chief Justice John Marshall agreed stating, "We admit, as all must admit, that the powers of the Government are limited, and that its limits are not to be transcended. But we think the sound construction of the Constitution must allow to the national legislature that discretion with respect to the means by which the powers it confers are to be carried into execution which will enable that body to perform the high duties assigned to it in the manner most beneficial to the people. Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the Constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are constitutional." this case, the Necessary and Proper Clause was linked to the General Welfare clause as involving taxation and borrowing.
  • The clause was also linked to the Commerce Clause where New Deal reforms were found necessary and proper to regulating interstate commerce (Gardbaum, Steven (1996). "Rethinking Constitutional Federalism". )
  • The Supreme Court upheld a federal statute making it a crime for a farmer to produce more wheat than was allowed under price controls and production controls, even if the excess production was for the farmer's own personal consumption. The Necessary and Proper Clause was used to justify the regulation of production and consumption (Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942)]
  • The Necessary and Proper Clause was also argued in the case of Lambert v. Yellowley, 272 U.S. 581 (1926), where the Supreme Court rule the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution necessary and proper therefore establishing Prohibition.
So as we can see, the Elastic Clause has been more supportive to my argument that the Constitution is a broadly interpreted document. In terms of your argument on the Health Care Law, a.k.a. H R 4872, the federal mandate would, in my opinion, be ruled constitutional. Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment and Director of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, thinks it will be ruled constitutional as well Balkin received his Ph.D in philosophy from Cambridge University, and his A.B. and J.D. degrees from Harvard University the mandate is in the form of a tax, the U.S. Government can argue the mandate necessary and proper to execute the tax. Source that the mandate is a tax It is very unlike that the Supreme Court will undo a tradition of loose interpretation on the bill. So, my argument is that Congress shall make laws necessary and proper to execute enumerated powers. I do not want to make it look like a rant so if my opponent and hopeful voters read my sources they will find more than enough information to support my argument.



First I would like to restate my position, which, is a basic response to his Round Two reasoning. As my definition of strict states, anything that that constittuion says they can do, goes. It Word by Word states that the governemnt my use the Nessary and Proper Clause and therefore when they decide to use it, they are uding it by means of strict interpretation....

Responces to first Bullet.
-My first responce is that I explicitly stated in the first round that the "strict interpretation" of the constitution now doe not have the same meaning as it used to aka during the times when Hamilton was using it.
-Second, this bulet actually helps my side of the debate. As we can see in the quotations it keeps saying that we must do what is right and proper but we must do it within the bounds of the constitution. This means that they want to do what is right as long as they are in the bounds of the constituion

Second Bullet
-Again, This bullet falls to my side of the debate because it shows how the constituion, but using the exact words in text, are able to govern theunited states without breaking any constitutional laws.

Third Bullet
-Same argument applies to this bullet as the two before me.

Now I would like to reiderate my stances.
-First of all, we must keep in mind that times have changed since the 1700's and our interpretations have as well. But, one thing that hasn't changed is the words in the constitution. By my defintion, the anything the Constitution says the government can do and it would become a strict interpretation. By this notion, they can use the Nessary and Proper clause and it still be considered a strict interpretation because is it explicity written in the text.
-As for the healthcare bill, we must keep in mind that Hamiltion and other leaders such as him did not know of things like "universial Health care" but they anticipated things such as for the future. They made provisions for this in the constitution, aka the elastic clause.
-I would like to point out that my oppenet has not attacted my defintion and it still stands in this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I want to thank my opponent for continuing the debate.
Although health care and education have not been specifically stated in the U.S. Constitution, the interpretation of the Supreme Court has seen it to the contrary. For some reason their is a Department of Education. The General Welfare Clause has been interpreted loosely in the establishment of the department as well as the Federal Reserve. In terms of the Copyright Clause, the U.S. Supreme Court also saw the useful arts and sciences as not only applying to inventions, but all knowledge and philosophy related things, including scientific research. [1] My argument is how the Supreme Court will rule, not my personal opinion or what I want them to decide. My opponent is arguing that the U.S. Government will decide what is best is a loose interpretation, not a strict interpretation.


I would also like the thank my Opponent for thei oppertunity for debate. I still stand by all my arguements and my definition of strict interpretation.
Thanks again!
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by jrmurillo09 6 years ago
The debate will be about why I think the Supreme Court will side with the bill because of the loose interpretation. Sorry if it was not made clear.
Posted by wjmelements 6 years ago
Are you arguing for the loose view, or that the loose view will be dominant?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: I have to side that the arguments presented for the loose view seem more likely, given our government, however, given the political lean of the supreme court, the constitution may only be used to justify currently held political ideals. But anyway, CON did not do a good job making me believe that 1.8 was part of the strict holding of the constitution, so I have to hold that it falls under the loose.