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Judicial Originalism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/20/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 393 times Debate No: 118327
Debate Rounds (4)
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Judicial Originalism-
In the context of United States constitutional interpretation, Originalism is a way to interpret the Constitution's meaning as stable from the time of enactment, Which can be changed only by the steps set out in Article Five.

Please use the first argument to accept. I have provided a definition so that we have a common understanding of the term.


I believe that the constitution not only should evolve with time but is mandated to do so. Beyond amendments it's important to understand the meaning behind the words of the constitution. First, Allow me to say I am generally leaning on the right rather than the left, In that most of my views are more conservative rather than liberal. I believe that every American has the right to own firearms and beyond that the general public is responsible when it comes to gun ownership. That being said I understand that there are exceptions to that which help to host national tragedies.
Debate Round No. 1


I am also definitely more left than right too, But the point of implementing judicial originalism is that it completely removes political bias from the bench while at the same time respecting the constitution.

The main contention with the issue most people have is that the document is almost 250 years old. Why should we take a document that old seriously? Thus they label the constitution a "living, Breathing document". This allows people to speculate what the founding fathers must have meant, And by doing this, Judges can morph the constitution into anything want. I firmly believe it is egregious to have these unelected people legislating from the bench; their job, Ordained by the constitution, Is to interpret the constitution, Not rewrite it.

There is also the notion that the document is not relevant because it is so antique. That is why the founding fathers put article 5 in the constitution, So we can amend it according to our times. Treating the constitution as a "living, Breathing document" is just a way to bypass this and make the law what you feel is right.

Thank you for the opportunity to debate you.


There is simply no way to remove bias from the bench. There will always be some level of preference when it comes with dealings from the wig.

While it is true that the constitution is over 200 years old I feel that it should be seen as a living document. That is however not to say that a judge can just make up whatever they want they constitution to be that is a little far fetched. There are laws sitting that are unconstitutional despite being set laws. For example in North Carolina's legislation of the N. C consitution Sec. 8

"Sec. 8. Disqualifications for office.
The following persons shall be disqualified for office:
First, Any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God. "

Meaning that literally if you do not conform to the idea that their is one deity despite the freedom of religion guaranteed by the U. S Constitution you can be denied a position in a federally recognized seat of authority.

This is just an example of why certain documentation needs to be looked at through the light of today's society. Creating legislation sometimes takes too long for some and for others can never come fast enough. Times change and it changes typically faster than legislation can keep up with so it's up to judges to help set the precedent by interpreting the law. You yourself have even confirmed that is part of their job, To interpret the constitution, Not re-write it.

Article 5 is to help the government have the power to change the law by its definition by adding an amendment. The latter is to help on an individual basis and perform a function in judging whether or not something should or shouldn't be considered illegal.
Debate Round No. 2


If you are being technical, Yes, People will always have some bias, But undoubtably the best way to combat this is looking at the literal definition of the words in the constitution. The idea that we can best judge the meaning of the constitution by ruling the way we feel the constitution should be interpreted as is subjective by its very definition, And once we start to do this, The limits of what we "feel" it means expand to the point where it becomes less about the actual interpretation of the constitution and more about what we want it to mean.

The latest example of this would be in 2008 Supreme Court case, District of Columbia v. Heller.

The gist of the case is that Washington D. C. Instituted a handgun ban effectively removing the right of private citizens to own firearms. A police officer wanted to keep his work gun in his house between shifts for self-defense, But he was not allowed to do this because of this handgun ban. The ban went to the D. C. District Court and was upheld. Thankfully the court ruled in favor of the officer but only by one vote. The dissenting opinion of the supreme court, Courtesy of justices who believe the living, Breathing document philosophy, Wrote that the second amendment did not guarantee the right to bear arms to the private citizen [Source 1]. No honest reading of the second amendment could lead to this conclusion. Without a non-governmental militia, The U. S. Would not even exist, And because of this, The founding fathers guaranteed the right to bear arms. All documents at the time suggest the purpose is to arm private individuals. We were literally one justice believing that the constitution was a living, Breathing document from not having a second amendment.

As for your example on religion, You would be incorrect.

Cornell law says, "The First Amendment's Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law 'respecting an establishment of religion' This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, But also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, Or non-religion over religion" [Source 2]. That is favoring a religion over another; therefore, It is blatantly unconstitutional.

As for your assertion that the amendment process is much too arduous, Did you know that Congress looks passes roughly 750 bills per year? There are only 2 substantial difference between the process of making bills and amendments.

1. 2/3 support of both chambers needed for amendments rather than 1/2 support for a bill

2. States could actually take it upon themselves by calling a constitutional convention and pass an amendment with 3/4

The process is almost exactly the same except it gives more opportunities to pass an amendment, At the expense of a higher support. If an aspect of the constitution was so clearly so outdated, It would have no problem being changed. A majority of the Supreme Court is being used to bypass the traditional constitutional canal which the founding fathers would have viewed as a direct exploitation of the judicial branch, And this is a large cause of the major political divide of our time.

The idea that judges can sit on the court and rule that abortion should be legal is preposterous. Setting political differences aside, Where the hell in the constitution does it say anything about the right to an abortion? If there were laws regarding abortion rather than mere precedent, There be less riots and (idiotic) Stop Kavanaugh attempts. The founding fathers, In all their wisdom, Knew that the United States is not a culturally homogenous place. The constitution was difficult enough to ratify in the first place. They knew the notion that the constitution could be changed with a simple majority of anyone, Nonetheless a majority of unelected officials, Would be dangerously divisive, And they were absolutely right. These landmark decisions and passages need to have more support in order to maintain peace; it is just the world we live in.

Every time judges refer to the constitution as a living, Breathing document, What they really mean is that either:

They want more power over the constitution

Or they want to rationalize methods to impose their political ideologies on all Americans

Both are equally dangerous.

I just have one question:
You "feel" the constitution should be regarded as a living document; how can you assure justices do not "feel" large portions of the bill of rights should not apply?

Source 1:
https://www. Law. Cornell. Edu/supct/html/07-290. ZD1. Html
Source 2:
https://www. Law. Cornell. Edu/wex/establishment_clause


Cannibal_Rio forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Jsgraz forfeited this round.


Cannibal_Rio forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con ff half of the rounds. This is poor conduct.

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