The Instigator
AbandonedSpring
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
Ameliamk1
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points

The constitution should be interpreted based on what it would mean if it was written today.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Ameliamk1
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/18/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,000 times Debate No: 63481
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (3)

 

AbandonedSpring

Pro

The constitution should be interpreted based upon an instrumentalists point of view because as times change, so should how the government functions. Pro believes that the constitution should be seen as if it were written today. Con believes that the constitution should be interpreted exactly as it would have been when it was written in 1787.

1 round: Acceptance
2 round: Arguments
3 round: rebuttals
4 round: conclusions
Ameliamk1

Con

As per the rules, I accept. Good luck to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 1
AbandonedSpring

Pro

And good luck to you too!

Now, I would like to begin this debate by stating that when the constitution was written in 1787, there was no crystal ball that would show the future of America. As a matter of fact, I am will to bet that the founding fathers would not even be able to comprehend the advancements of today, and therefore, the constitution ought to be interpreted as time goes on.

Not to mention the hypocrisy the founding fathers stood for.

For example, Thomas Jefferson, a great man who drafted in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. " That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, " That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends"

As times advance, we have to stop looking at a bunch of rich, educated, white men that wrote an important document a couple hundred years ago, and we have to realize, they did not have all the answers. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we get rid of the constitution, I would fight to the death to defend it again, but, as it turns out, most high-praised documents are open for interpretation, whether we like it or not.

An example of this is the bible. Many versus within the bible can be taken several different ways. The versus of the bible do not only mean one thing. They could mean a multitude of things. It just depends on the time period they are being read from.

Just like so many other great documents, taken out of context. The constitution was written with the intention to be a solution to the issues to the times of its birth, and therefore it is something that has to change along with today's trends and times.

Thank you, and I have some questions.

Do you feel like it would be okay to change the constitution under any circumstance?

If so, who do you believe should have to power to change the constitution? EX. executive, legislative, or judicial branch?
Ameliamk1

Con

Ameliamk1 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
AbandonedSpring

Pro

Vote pro because I am equipped to answer questions placed in front of me!
Ameliamk1

Con

I apologize for my failure to post last round. The time to post was far less then I had anticipated, and I neglected to ensure that it was indeed the three days I am used to. As a result, I gladly concede the conduct point to my opponent, but would ask my arguments be considered regardless.

Constitution: Universal Law

The primary contention my opponent operates on in his case is that the Constitution is not eternal; it can be and has been outdated, and should be replaced by a modern alternatives. This is patently, by its very meaning, false. The definition of "Constitution" is "a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed." (1) The very concept of a Constitution amounts to a groundwork of a legal system that does not change, hence why the Constitution of the United States is so vague. Laws are meant to adapt, but a Constitution holds the basic tenants which laws shall not ever break.

The reason the Ten Commandments could never be instilled into a society is because they attempt to take matters that should be legal issues, and turn them into a Constitution. Times may change; in the 1700s, Tories and Christian oppressors were the threats, and now it has become Fascists and Islamic Extremists. But the Constituion holds true. Free speech will not be restricted, and in this way, the Constitution is eternal. Because ultimately the Constituon will adapt, due to it being not a series of laws, but a series of rules laws must be based on.

So, I must ask. Which of the 27 amendments in our noble consitution would my opponent see "re-interpreted"? Which article no longer holds true in the modern world? Free speech? Trial by jury? No restriction on voting rights? I challenge my opponent to raise a single grievance with an amendment that can be resolved simply by recontextualizing the writing. The Constitution simply need not change.

However, were there ever to be a legitimate complaint against a section of the document, there are processes which which it could be solved. For example, by very heavy majority, it is technically possible to have amendments eliminated, added, or altered by popular vote or congress. But to suggest that the solution is merely to interpret the Constitution differently to somehow adhere universal rules to the contemporary world is puerile. The Constitution is interpreted as to constrain the abuses of law-makers and the flaws in the political system. Opening it up to any theory or analyzation will result in chaos, and whomever makes those decisions holds uncontrollable and irreconcible power,

I have few characters remaining, so I will leave my rebuttals here. Good luck to my opponent in future rounds, and I apologize once again.

(1) http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 3
AbandonedSpring

Pro

To begin, I will jump straight into rebuttals, seeing as to how you already know my argument.

Aright, now I will begin by defining "constitution", and citing a source.

Constitution:"the system of beliefs and laws by which a country, state, or organization is governed"
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

My definition stands because I have a source, and he does not. For all I know, he could have just made up this definition because it suited his argument perfectly.

therfore, that entire argument is irrelevant because the definition does not uphold your argument.

"But the Constituion holds true. Free speech will not be restricted, and in this way, the Constitution is eternal. Because ultimately the Constituon will adapt, due to it being not a series of laws, but a series of rules laws must be based on."

Clearly you misunderstand. I am not looking to change the bill of rights. Or, and amendments for that matter. I am talking about the things that constitution says about the branches of government. Amendments are only changed by other amendments. Issues like the Electoral college need to be fixed.

Have you done extensive research on the electoral college? If not, check out the link below.
http://www.fairvote.org...

The electoral college is in the constitution. It ensures that we do not have a fair vote. Of course, it was ingenious at the time! Since all people couldn't get there responses to D.C. in time, this was used. However, as times changed, we now CAN get all our votes to D.C.. Therefor, the electoral college must be removed as times change, effectively changing the constitution as times change.

"So, I must ask. Which of the 27 amendments in our noble consitution would my opponent see "re-interpreted"? Which article no longer holds true in the modern world? Free speech? Trial by jury? No restriction on voting rights? I challenge my opponent to raise a single grievance with an amendment that can be resolved simply by recontextualizing the writing. The Constitution simply need not change."

In this selection, you just took my argument out of context. Like I said earlier, the amendments are here to stay! They provide us liberties which are guaranteed to us simply because we are American.

next, "However, were there ever to be a legitimate complaint against a section of the document, there are processes which which it could be solved. For example, by very heavy majority, it is technically possible to have amendments eliminated, added, or altered by popular vote or congress."

The fact that you said "technically" surprised me. You make it sound like it's never been done, when in fact, it has been done 17 times.

Things will always be up for interpretation. Which is probably why the majority of the constitution was so vague- it was made to be interpreted!

Thanks, I am finished.
Ameliamk1

Con

I thank my opponent for his response, though I must find it slightly lazy that he uses more characters quoting me than actually stating his case.

"My definition stands because I have a source, and he does not."

Dear friend, the little (1) after the definition signifies that the source consulted resides at the end of the round, which it certainly does. The exact definition is somewhat irrelevant, because regardless it is well known how the Constitution is utilized, even if technically a constitution is more abstract.

The Electoral College

Given the rarity of actually response to challenges, my opponent admirably rises to mine, citing an example of the discrepancy in the Constitution, namely the broken behemoth of a voting system in the United States. While this is a good example, my opponent does not explain how "interpreting the Constitution based on what it would mean if it was written today" would solve the problem. Most polemical passages or amendments can be fixed by alterations or additions to the Constitution, rather than this bizzare idea of a re-interpretation.

In this debate, my adversary posseses the right concept, but the wrong proposition. Perhaps there are changes or deletions worth making to the Constitution, but that involves actual adjustment. The idea that we should decide what the Founder's would have meant had they lived today, I'm sorry to say, is quite farcical.

My opponent goes as far as to say "the amendments are here to stay"! Good to hear. So Pro would have the wording of the founders kept, but simply change their meaning. I will let the readers judge this point.

Made to be Interpreted?

The other claim of Pro's worth rebutting is arguing that since the Constituion is rather vague, it is meant to be liberally analyzed. Well, whenever a court of any kind hears a case that holds Constitutional jurisdiction, the judge or jury must consider the words as the founder's intended,not how they would interpret it had they written it. This seems a common sense measure, given that if any politician or legal potentate had authority on the meaning of the Constitution, the results would no doubt be disastrous. At best, one could argue that the Constitution was meant to contain a small portion of wiggle room. But free-interpretation? I think not.


In conclusion, the difference between changing something and re-interpreting it is a massive distinction, and in this case, not only was the Constitution not meant to be hurled around by sinister powers, but allowing this to happen holds unconscionable circumstances.

I enjoyed this debate highly, and best of luck to my opponent in voting and in future debates.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Pfalcon1318 2 years ago
Pfalcon1318
Now, the resolution is a pretty lofty one. "Based on what it would mean if it was written today" doesn't really give much to go on. Not to sure how to interpret it, and since PRO gave no real explanation, I can only go with the best explanation I can muster. With that in mind, it seems that CON really misunderstood the basis of the debate. To say "the constitution" seems, at least to me, to refer to the US constitution. Both debaters provide poor definitions in light of this, but since CON's argument rests on the definition that was supplied, CON's positive arguments are highly unconvincing.

PRO's arguments relate to the context of the constitution. The fact that the Founding Fathers weren't really aware of what would be going on centuries down the road. I really didn't see any reason offered as to why we should then reinterpret the Constitution. Considering PRO really gave me no idea of what that would even entail, I can't take any of PRO's arguments. A one-round forfeit isn't enough to warrant conduct, and neither debater really made use of sources within their arguments. Arguments to CON.
Posted by StarHunter 2 years ago
StarHunter
Interpreted as written. There is plenty of learned commentary to explain the meaning of the Constitution as reflected by the context in which the Framers wrote it. People are just too lazy to make the effort to read about the history and comments.
Posted by AbandonedSpring 2 years ago
AbandonedSpring
if you don't have anything to back up your argument, then its just an opinion. And assertion.
Posted by IndianaFrank 2 years ago
IndianaFrank
Both points of view are wrong. The constitution should be interpreted as it is written not as everyone who reads it decides to interpreted...
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
cheyennebodie
The constitution says all men are created equal meaning mankind. Not just males. Any idiot can see that.They were adherents to the bible. And the bible means the male man and the female man, or the man with a womb,wo-man.
Posted by AbandonedSpring 2 years ago
AbandonedSpring
When a topic is vague, it allows for an interesting argument. My opponent will be able to craft witty comeback, that will ultimately shape this debate into an intelligent conversation. And either way, I'm talking about the constitution as a whole. Not just sections of it.
Posted by LubricantSanta 2 years ago
LubricantSanta
I understand your point but is too vague. For example, "All men are created equal". Today we see that as sexist, and we believe the founding fathers said it with both sexist and racist intentions. Should we interpret that phrase as how we believe would be the ideal meaning, as in "all people are created equal", or how most of us see it, "all males/white males are created equal"?
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
cheyennebodie
That is hogwash. Then why not write a new constitution? Instead you people make a mockery of the constitution. Ignoring it like you do is corrupt.All you want to do is get away with what the constitution says you cannot do.Or do things the constitution forbids.
Posted by TheodoretheMan 2 years ago
TheodoretheMan
I won't debate you, but I like the way you think. You understand that the constitution (obviously) wasn't written in today's time, rendering certain phrases in it irrelevant. But if we convert these phrases into modern day terms, it would be much more understandable, and the people would hopefully understand, and realize what has been so wrong with the government. Very nice, keep it up.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Sojourner 2 years ago
Sojourner
AbandonedSpringAmeliamk1Tied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con rightly pointed out that the constitution was written so that it could be amended making it a dynamic document applicable to modern society.
Vote Placed by Pfalcon1318 2 years ago
Pfalcon1318
AbandonedSpringAmeliamk1Tied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by republicofdhar 2 years ago
republicofdhar
AbandonedSpringAmeliamk1Tied
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Total points awarded:34 
Reasons for voting decision: A very interesting and intelligent debate topic. Pro had some interesting arguments; he said that the founding fathers could not have predicted the future of America and therefore the Constitution they wrote should be reinterpreted as time passes. Con rightly pointed out that the Constitution forms fundamental principles of law, it is the supreme law of the land, and hence is not subject to reinterpretation. While I think both arguments were sound, Con rebutted Pro's arguments better. The debate could have been enhanced by a more in-depth discussion on the role of the legislative and judiciary, who pass and interpret laws. Conduct goes to Pro for Con's forfeit. S&G to Con because Pro's arguments took a lot of effort to discern. Sources to Pro for his one source; I'm awarding him this because I think there was need and opportunity for many more sources on both sides. I think there was potential for a far more robust debate, but well done nonetheless. Very illuminating.