Total Posts:16|Showing Posts:1-16
Jump to topic:

Is The Constitution A Living Document?

jat93
Posts: 1,440
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/11/2011 12:39:51 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
There's something I've been trying to form an opinion on and I'm not really sure where to stand. It's about constitutional interpretation.

The side that argues for a "living constitution" basically says that a) we can never know the true intentions of the founding fathers because the document is over two hundred years old and because of the constant disputes between them thus producing anything but a unanimous opinion b) the fathers intentionally vaguely phrased the constitution so that it could adapt and be interpreted loosely in years to come, and c) that it has to be a living document because societies change over time and, after all, a lot of time has passed since the creation of the constitution.

Opponents of this view argue a) the founding fathers provided a way to change the constitution (amendments) and thus never really intended for their words to be interpreted differently b) and, simply, as Justice Antonin Scalia said, "the Constitution is not a living organism; it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

It seems to me that on the one hand, the "originalist", strict interpretation of the constitution leads to too much rigidity and inflexibility; proponents often defend the constitution like a religious fundamentalist zealously upholds a literal interpretation of the Bible. On the other hand, the loose interpretation can lead to an eventual total disregard for the constitution and no real interpretation at all. After all, a loose interpretation offers no real borders to just how loosely the constitution may be interpreted. This could allow for just about any law to be stretched to be included under a vague interpretation of the words of the founding fathers.

So what's the verdict? How should we interpret the constitution?
rarugged
Posts: 172
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/11/2011 2:36:13 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I personally find the "living Constitution" doctrine just a gateway for judicial activism. What does it mean that the Constitution, a long piece of paper, evolves as societies change over time? Who determines the changing? The judges of course. It gives precedent to these judges to decide on will, rather than really on law.

Moreover, the framers of this document already had already provided for a process to amend the Constitution. If a particular phrase of the Constitution was so anachronistic to be absurd, then Congress could have the power to amend it. The framers intended for their original words to retain the same meaning throughout the ages.

Also, you have to specify what kind of originalism you are talking about. There is original "meaning" and original "intent", both rooted in the framers' minds.
If Jesus came back tomorrow, a cross would be the last thing he would want to see.
Charles0103
Posts: 523
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/11/2011 5:36:13 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/11/2011 12:39:51 PM, jat93 wrote:
There's something I've been trying to form an opinion on and I'm not really sure where to stand. It's about constitutional interpretation.

The side that argues for a "living constitution" basically says that a) we can never know the true intentions of the founding fathers because the document is over two hundred years old and because of the constant disputes between them thus producing anything but a unanimous opinion b) the fathers intentionally vaguely phrased the constitution so that it could adapt and be interpreted loosely in years to come, and c) that it has to be a living document because societies change over time and, after all, a lot of time has passed since the creation of the constitution.

Opponents of this view argue a) the founding fathers provided a way to change the constitution (amendments) and thus never really intended for their words to be interpreted differently b) and, simply, as Justice Antonin Scalia said, "the Constitution is not a living organism; it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

It seems to me that on the one hand, the "originalist", strict interpretation of the constitution leads to too much rigidity and inflexibility; proponents often defend the constitution like a religious fundamentalist zealously upholds a literal interpretation of the Bible. On the other hand, the loose interpretation can lead to an eventual total disregard for the constitution and no real interpretation at all. After all, a loose interpretation offers no real borders to just how loosely the constitution may be interpreted. This could allow for just about any law to be stretched to be included under a vague interpretation of the words of the founding fathers.

So what's the verdict? How should we interpret the constitution?

I lean towards it being a living document. 200 years ago, fully automatic weapons, hand guns that fire 30 shots without reloading, etc. didn't exist. Back then, everyone owned a fire arm; it was their way of life. Today, there is a significant number of gun owners, but not everyone in the country owns a gun. We should be able to own guns, but we should keep certain weapons off the market to keep the public safe.

That's really one example. I'll go into more depth if anyone wants to. In terms of progressivism, Thomas Jefferson once said, "There ought to be a revolution every hundred years..." and James Madison said, "Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."
"And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." Jesus in Luke 11:9-10
lewis20
Posts: 5,093
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/11/2011 6:07:41 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
It's not a living document.
We can change it when we find we need to, we can even throw it out and draft a new one of we want to.
When American's decide every possible government action is justified under the general welfare clause or that inaction can be regulated under the interstate commerce act, then there's not really a point in having a Constitution is there?
"If you are a racist I will attack you with the north"- Abraham Lincoln

"Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material" - Leviticus 19 19

"War is a racket" - Smedley Butler
rarugged
Posts: 172
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/11/2011 6:19:15 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/11/2011 5:36:13 PM, Charles0103 wrote:
At 6/11/2011 12:39:51 PM, jat93 wrote:
There's something I've been trying to form an opinion on and I'm not really sure where to stand. It's about constitutional interpretation.

The side that argues for a "living constitution" basically says that a) we can never know the true intentions of the founding fathers because the document is over two hundred years old and because of the constant disputes between them thus producing anything but a unanimous opinion b) the fathers intentionally vaguely phrased the constitution so that it could adapt and be interpreted loosely in years to come, and c) that it has to be a living document because societies change over time and, after all, a lot of time has passed since the creation of the constitution.

Opponents of this view argue a) the founding fathers provided a way to change the constitution (amendments) and thus never really intended for their words to be interpreted differently b) and, simply, as Justice Antonin Scalia said, "the Constitution is not a living organism; it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

It seems to me that on the one hand, the "originalist", strict interpretation of the constitution leads to too much rigidity and inflexibility; proponents often defend the constitution like a religious fundamentalist zealously upholds a literal interpretation of the Bible. On the other hand, the loose interpretation can lead to an eventual total disregard for the constitution and no real interpretation at all. After all, a loose interpretation offers no real borders to just how loosely the constitution may be interpreted. This could allow for just about any law to be stretched to be included under a vague interpretation of the words of the founding fathers.

So what's the verdict? How should we interpret the constitution?

I lean towards it being a living document. 200 years ago, fully automatic weapons, hand guns that fire 30 shots without reloading, etc. didn't exist. Back then, everyone owned a fire arm; it was their way of life. Today, there is a significant number of gun owners, but not everyone in the country owns a gun. We should be able to own guns, but we should keep certain weapons off the market to keep the public safe.

That's really one example. I'll go into more depth if anyone wants to. In terms of progressivism, Thomas Jefferson once said, "There ought to be a revolution every hundred years..." and James Madison said, "Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."

How does it matter whether back then they had rifles and now we have machine guns? The principle is the same: we should be allowed to own firearms.

If it's easier for "criminals" to purchase machine guns, it's also easier for the "defender" to purchase one. There's no difference. Back then, rifles were the state-of-the-art weapon, capable of doing great harm, yet the framers still decided that possession of a firearm is a Constitutional right.

Principle-wise, nothing has changed.
If Jesus came back tomorrow, a cross would be the last thing he would want to see.
Charles0103
Posts: 523
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/12/2011 9:50:25 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/11/2011 6:19:15 PM, rarugged wrote:
At 6/11/2011 5:36:13 PM, Charles0103 wrote:
At 6/11/2011 12:39:51 PM, jat93 wrote:
There's something I've been trying to form an opinion on and I'm not really sure where to stand. It's about constitutional interpretation.

The side that argues for a "living constitution" basically says that a) we can never know the true intentions of the founding fathers because the document is over two hundred years old and because of the constant disputes between them thus producing anything but a unanimous opinion b) the fathers intentionally vaguely phrased the constitution so that it could adapt and be interpreted loosely in years to come, and c) that it has to be a living document because societies change over time and, after all, a lot of time has passed since the creation of the constitution.

Opponents of this view argue a) the founding fathers provided a way to change the constitution (amendments) and thus never really intended for their words to be interpreted differently b) and, simply, as Justice Antonin Scalia said, "the Constitution is not a living organism; it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

It seems to me that on the one hand, the "originalist", strict interpretation of the constitution leads to too much rigidity and inflexibility; proponents often defend the constitution like a religious fundamentalist zealously upholds a literal interpretation of the Bible. On the other hand, the loose interpretation can lead to an eventual total disregard for the constitution and no real interpretation at all. After all, a loose interpretation offers no real borders to just how loosely the constitution may be interpreted. This could allow for just about any law to be stretched to be included under a vague interpretation of the words of the founding fathers.

So what's the verdict? How should we interpret the constitution?

I lean towards it being a living document. 200 years ago, fully automatic weapons, hand guns that fire 30 shots without reloading, etc. didn't exist. Back then, everyone owned a fire arm; it was their way of life. Today, there is a significant number of gun owners, but not everyone in the country owns a gun. We should be able to own guns, but we should keep certain weapons off the market to keep the public safe.

That's really one example. I'll go into more depth if anyone wants to. In terms of progressivism, Thomas Jefferson once said, "There ought to be a revolution every hundred years..." and James Madison said, "Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."

How does it matter whether back then they had rifles and now we have machine guns? The principle is the same: we should be allowed to own firearms.

If it's easier for "criminals" to purchase machine guns, it's also easier for the "defender" to purchase one. There's no difference. Back then, rifles were the state-of-the-art weapon, capable of doing great harm, yet the framers still decided that possession of a firearm is a Constitutional right.

Principle-wise, nothing has changed.

I was using that as an example. Our way of life has changed. Guns were a necessity back then. Today, not every family has one. Guns of today are far more dangerous than they were in that period. Most of the time, they either misfired or missed altogether.

My point is that since guns and society have changed, it's the government's job to keep the public safe. Should we ban all guns? No. But I doubt you're going to need a fully automatic rifle just in case 50 fully armed men might break into your house.

They also put that in so that people could rebel against the government. Today, what's a bunch of rednecks with shotguns against the US army? You can't seceede anymore.

Either way, many of the framers did intend for the Constitution to change and adjust to the times.
"And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." Jesus in Luke 11:9-10
rarugged
Posts: 172
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/12/2011 3:03:55 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/12/2011 9:50:25 AM, Charles0103 wrote:
At 6/11/2011 6:19:15 PM, rarugged wrote:
At 6/11/2011 5:36:13 PM, Charles0103 wrote:
At 6/11/2011 12:39:51 PM, jat93 wrote:
There's something I've been trying to form an opinion on and I'm not really sure where to stand. It's about constitutional interpretation.

The side that argues for a "living constitution" basically says that a) we can never know the true intentions of the founding fathers because the document is over two hundred years old and because of the constant disputes between them thus producing anything but a unanimous opinion b) the fathers intentionally vaguely phrased the constitution so that it could adapt and be interpreted loosely in years to come, and c) that it has to be a living document because societies change over time and, after all, a lot of time has passed since the creation of the constitution.

Opponents of this view argue a) the founding fathers provided a way to change the constitution (amendments) and thus never really intended for their words to be interpreted differently b) and, simply, as Justice Antonin Scalia said, "the Constitution is not a living organism; it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

It seems to me that on the one hand, the "originalist", strict interpretation of the constitution leads to too much rigidity and inflexibility; proponents often defend the constitution like a religious fundamentalist zealously upholds a literal interpretation of the Bible. On the other hand, the loose interpretation can lead to an eventual total disregard for the constitution and no real interpretation at all. After all, a loose interpretation offers no real borders to just how loosely the constitution may be interpreted. This could allow for just about any law to be stretched to be included under a vague interpretation of the words of the founding fathers.

So what's the verdict? How should we interpret the constitution?

I lean towards it being a living document. 200 years ago, fully automatic weapons, hand guns that fire 30 shots without reloading, etc. didn't exist. Back then, everyone owned a fire arm; it was their way of life. Today, there is a significant number of gun owners, but not everyone in the country owns a gun. We should be able to own guns, but we should keep certain weapons off the market to keep the public safe.

That's really one example. I'll go into more depth if anyone wants to. In terms of progressivism, Thomas Jefferson once said, "There ought to be a revolution every hundred years..." and James Madison said, "Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."

How does it matter whether back then they had rifles and now we have machine guns? The principle is the same: we should be allowed to own firearms.

If it's easier for "criminals" to purchase machine guns, it's also easier for the "defender" to purchase one. There's no difference. Back then, rifles were the state-of-the-art weapon, capable of doing great harm, yet the framers still decided that possession of a firearm is a Constitutional right.

Principle-wise, nothing has changed.

I was using that as an example. Our way of life has changed. Guns were a necessity back then. Today, not every family has one. Guns of today are far more dangerous than they were in that period. Most of the time, they either misfired or missed altogether.

My point is that since guns and society have changed, it's the government's job to keep the public safe. Should we ban all guns? No. But I doubt you're going to need a fully automatic rifle just in case 50 fully armed men might break into your house.

They also put that in so that people could rebel against the government. Today, what's a bunch of rednecks with shotguns against the US army? You can't seceede anymore.

Either way, many of the framers did intend for the Constitution to change and adjust to the times.

Rifles were as powerful back then as machine guns are as powerful today.

And please, the framers did not give people guns so they can have revolutions. Yes, they imagined it would deter authoritarian rule, but it was primarily an influence from the English Bill of Rights' principle of self-defense.

Your last comment makes no sense. If indeed this "right to bear arms" is out of place within our society, just amend the Constitution.

Don't tell policymakers and judges to ignore the text just because they personally feel like it's incongruous with the time.
If Jesus came back tomorrow, a cross would be the last thing he would want to see.
mongeese
Posts: 5,387
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/12/2011 3:17:44 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
The Second Amendment only says that people must have a right to bear arms. It doesn't say that they can bear any arms. It doesn't take a living-document approach to decide that people don't need machine guns or bazookas to protect themselves.
Fabian_CH
Posts: 232
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/12/2011 3:47:10 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
The Constitution is a living document insofar as it provides for a procedure to change and amend it - for better or for worse.

Any assertion beyond that is complete nonsense.
"What are we doing? Do we want to feed a starved humanity in order to let it live? Or do we want to strangle its life in order to feed it?"
- Andrei Taganov, We The Living (Ayn Rand)
Greyparrot
Posts: 14,251
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/12/2011 8:59:46 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I agree with Lewis. If the constitution is a living document, the it's pulse went dead the moment the interstate commerce clause gave the right of the government to take away our liberty and pursuit of happiness for the sake of prolonging life.
quarterexchange
Posts: 1,549
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/12/2011 9:04:18 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/12/2011 9:50:25 AM, Charles0103 wrote:
At 6/11/2011 6:19:15 PM, rarugged wrote:
At 6/11/2011 5:36:13 PM, Charles0103 wrote:
At 6/11/2011 12:39:51 PM, jat93 wrote:
There's something I've been trying to form an opinion on and I'm not really sure where to stand. It's about constitutional interpretation.

The side that argues for a "living constitution" basically says that a) we can never know the true intentions of the founding fathers because the document is over two hundred years old and because of the constant disputes between them thus producing anything but a unanimous opinion b) the fathers intentionally vaguely phrased the constitution so that it could adapt and be interpreted loosely in years to come, and c) that it has to be a living document because societies change over time and, after all, a lot of time has passed since the creation of the constitution.

Opponents of this view argue a) the founding fathers provided a way to change the constitution (amendments) and thus never really intended for their words to be interpreted differently b) and, simply, as Justice Antonin Scalia said, "the Constitution is not a living organism; it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

It seems to me that on the one hand, the "originalist", strict interpretation of the constitution leads to too much rigidity and inflexibility; proponents often defend the constitution like a religious fundamentalist zealously upholds a literal interpretation of the Bible. On the other hand, the loose interpretation can lead to an eventual total disregard for the constitution and no real interpretation at all. After all, a loose interpretation offers no real borders to just how loosely the constitution may be interpreted. This could allow for just about any law to be stretched to be included under a vague interpretation of the words of the founding fathers.

So what's the verdict? How should we interpret the constitution?

I lean towards it being a living document. 200 years ago, fully automatic weapons, hand guns that fire 30 shots without reloading, etc. didn't exist. Back then, everyone owned a fire arm; it was their way of life. Today, there is a significant number of gun owners, but not everyone in the country owns a gun. We should be able to own guns, but we should keep certain weapons off the market to keep the public safe.

That's really one example. I'll go into more depth if anyone wants to. In terms of progressivism, Thomas Jefferson once said, "There ought to be a revolution every hundred years..." and James Madison said, "Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."

How does it matter whether back then they had rifles and now we have machine guns? The principle is the same: we should be allowed to own firearms.

If it's easier for "criminals" to purchase machine guns, it's also easier for the "defender" to purchase one. There's no difference. Back then, rifles were the state-of-the-art weapon, capable of doing great harm, yet the framers still decided that possession of a firearm is a Constitutional right.

Principle-wise, nothing has changed.

I was using that as an example. Our way of life has changed. Guns were a necessity back then. Today, not every family has one. Guns of today are far more dangerous than they were in that period. Most of the time, they either misfired or missed altogether.

My point is that since guns and society have changed, it's the government's job to keep the public safe. Should we ban all guns? No. But I doubt you're going to need a fully automatic rifle just in case 50 fully armed men might break into your house.

They also put that in so that people could rebel against the government. Today, what's a bunch of rednecks with shotguns against the US army? You can't seceede anymore.

Either way, many of the framers did intend for the Constitution to change and adjust to the times.

Back then the citizens of the U.S. had muskets and rifles, which were the standard firearms weapons used in the U.S. military. Since standard firearms in the U.S. military consist of assault rifles then the people should be allowed to have assault rifles.
The 2nd amendment was not designed for home defense or hunting, it was designed to oppose a tyrannical government.
I don't discriminate....I hate everybody.
mongeese
Posts: 5,387
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/12/2011 9:55:28 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/12/2011 9:09:46 PM, Greyparrot wrote:
Do you think the Civil War taught us we were not ready for that responsibility?

Not ready for the responsibility? We let our government grow large enough to squash a secession movement, the likes of which would have been celebrated in the Revolutionary War (and was celebrated as such at the time).
Charles0103
Posts: 523
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/13/2011 8:16:46 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/12/2011 9:04:18 PM, quarterexchange wrote:
At 6/12/2011 9:50:25 AM, Charles0103 wrote:
At 6/11/2011 6:19:15 PM, rarugged wrote:
At 6/11/2011 5:36:13 PM, Charles0103 wrote:
At 6/11/2011 12:39:51 PM, jat93 wrote:
There's something I've been trying to form an opinion on and I'm not really sure where to stand. It's about constitutional interpretation.

The side that argues for a "living constitution" basically says that a) we can never know the true intentions of the founding fathers because the document is over two hundred years old and because of the constant disputes between them thus producing anything but a unanimous opinion b) the fathers intentionally vaguely phrased the constitution so that it could adapt and be interpreted loosely in years to come, and c) that it has to be a living document because societies change over time and, after all, a lot of time has passed since the creation of the constitution.

Opponents of this view argue a) the founding fathers provided a way to change the constitution (amendments) and thus never really intended for their words to be interpreted differently b) and, simply, as Justice Antonin Scalia said, "the Constitution is not a living organism; it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

It seems to me that on the one hand, the "originalist", strict interpretation of the constitution leads to too much rigidity and inflexibility; proponents often defend the constitution like a religious fundamentalist zealously upholds a literal interpretation of the Bible. On the other hand, the loose interpretation can lead to an eventual total disregard for the constitution and no real interpretation at all. After all, a loose interpretation offers no real borders to just how loosely the constitution may be interpreted. This could allow for just about any law to be stretched to be included under a vague interpretation of the words of the founding fathers.

So what's the verdict? How should we interpret the constitution?

I lean towards it being a living document. 200 years ago, fully automatic weapons, hand guns that fire 30 shots without reloading, etc. didn't exist. Back then, everyone owned a fire arm; it was their way of life. Today, there is a significant number of gun owners, but not everyone in the country owns a gun. We should be able to own guns, but we should keep certain weapons off the market to keep the public safe.

That's really one example. I'll go into more depth if anyone wants to. In terms of progressivism, Thomas Jefferson once said, "There ought to be a revolution every hundred years..." and James Madison said, "Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."

How does it matter whether back then they had rifles and now we have machine guns? The principle is the same: we should be allowed to own firearms.

If it's easier for "criminals" to purchase machine guns, it's also easier for the "defender" to purchase one. There's no difference. Back then, rifles were the state-of-the-art weapon, capable of doing great harm, yet the framers still decided that possession of a firearm is a Constitutional right.

Principle-wise, nothing has changed.

I was using that as an example. Our way of life has changed. Guns were a necessity back then. Today, not every family has one. Guns of today are far more dangerous than they were in that period. Most of the time, they either misfired or missed altogether.

My point is that since guns and society have changed, it's the government's job to keep the public safe. Should we ban all guns? No. But I doubt you're going to need a fully automatic rifle just in case 50 fully armed men might break into your house.

They also put that in so that people could rebel against the government. Today, what's a bunch of rednecks with shotguns against the US army? You can't seceede anymore.

Either way, many of the framers did intend for the Constitution to change and adjust to the times.

Back then the citizens of the U.S. had muskets and rifles, which were the standard firearms weapons used in the U.S. military. Since standard firearms in the U.S. military consist of assault rifles then the people should be allowed to have assault rifles.
The 2nd amendment was not designed for home defense or hunting, it was designed to oppose a tyrannical government.

People don't hunt that much, and I doubt you could overthrow the United States of America. Good luck, bud.
"And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." Jesus in Luke 11:9-10
lewis20
Posts: 5,093
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/13/2011 2:58:40 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/13/2011 8:16:46 AM, Charles0103 wrote:
People don't hunt that much, and I doubt you could overthrow the United States of America. Good luck, bud.

There are a lot of people who hunt.
"If you are a racist I will attack you with the north"- Abraham Lincoln

"Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material" - Leviticus 19 19

"War is a racket" - Smedley Butler
rarugged
Posts: 172
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
6/13/2011 3:58:11 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/12/2011 9:04:18 PM, quarterexchange wrote:
At 6/12/2011 9:50:25 AM, Charles0103 wrote:
At 6/11/2011 6:19:15 PM, rarugged wrote:
At 6/11/2011 5:36:13 PM, Charles0103 wrote:
At 6/11/2011 12:39:51 PM, jat93 wrote:
There's something I've been trying to form an opinion on and I'm not really sure where to stand. It's about constitutional interpretation.

The side that argues for a "living constitution" basically says that a) we can never know the true intentions of the founding fathers because the document is over two hundred years old and because of the constant disputes between them thus producing anything but a unanimous opinion b) the fathers intentionally vaguely phrased the constitution so that it could adapt and be interpreted loosely in years to come, and c) that it has to be a living document because societies change over time and, after all, a lot of time has passed since the creation of the constitution.

Opponents of this view argue a) the founding fathers provided a way to change the constitution (amendments) and thus never really intended for their words to be interpreted differently b) and, simply, as Justice Antonin Scalia said, "the Constitution is not a living organism; it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

It seems to me that on the one hand, the "originalist", strict interpretation of the constitution leads to too much rigidity and inflexibility; proponents often defend the constitution like a religious fundamentalist zealously upholds a literal interpretation of the Bible. On the other hand, the loose interpretation can lead to an eventual total disregard for the constitution and no real interpretation at all. After all, a loose interpretation offers no real borders to just how loosely the constitution may be interpreted. This could allow for just about any law to be stretched to be included under a vague interpretation of the words of the founding fathers.

So what's the verdict? How should we interpret the constitution?

I lean towards it being a living document. 200 years ago, fully automatic weapons, hand guns that fire 30 shots without reloading, etc. didn't exist. Back then, everyone owned a fire arm; it was their way of life. Today, there is a significant number of gun owners, but not everyone in the country owns a gun. We should be able to own guns, but we should keep certain weapons off the market to keep the public safe.

That's really one example. I'll go into more depth if anyone wants to. In terms of progressivism, Thomas Jefferson once said, "There ought to be a revolution every hundred years..." and James Madison said, "Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."

How does it matter whether back then they had rifles and now we have machine guns? The principle is the same: we should be allowed to own firearms.

If it's easier for "criminals" to purchase machine guns, it's also easier for the "defender" to purchase one. There's no difference. Back then, rifles were the state-of-the-art weapon, capable of doing great harm, yet the framers still decided that possession of a firearm is a Constitutional right.

Principle-wise, nothing has changed.

I was using that as an example. Our way of life has changed. Guns were a necessity back then. Today, not every family has one. Guns of today are far more dangerous than they were in that period. Most of the time, they either misfired or missed altogether.

My point is that since guns and society have changed, it's the government's job to keep the public safe. Should we ban all guns? No. But I doubt you're going to need a fully automatic rifle just in case 50 fully armed men might break into your house.

They also put that in so that people could rebel against the government. Today, what's a bunch of rednecks with shotguns against the US army? You can't seceede anymore.

Either way, many of the framers did intend for the Constitution to change and adjust to the times.

Back then the citizens of the U.S. had muskets and rifles, which were the standard firearms weapons used in the U.S. military. Since standard firearms in the U.S. military consist of assault rifles then the people should be allowed to have assault rifles.
The 2nd amendment was not designed for home defense or hunting, it was designed to oppose a tyrannical government.

The 1st amendment wasn't intentioned to let people burn flags, yet people do under its protection.
If Jesus came back tomorrow, a cross would be the last thing he would want to see.