Editorial

The U.S. Constitution: A Living Document?

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The Constitution: Living or Static.
Original Intent and Originalism.
HOW WE KNOW THE FOUNDING FATHERS INTENDED THE CONSTITUTION BE A LIVING, NOT STATIC DOCUMENT.

united-states-constitution
The Constitution

The Constitution, Original Intent and Originalism
A brief Treatise

 

Declaration:

The U.S. Constitution is a living document, voluntarily constrained only by thoughtful and considered judgment, not blind-adherence to what can only be called educated divining of “Original Intent”.

ARGUMENT:

In the wake of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, much has been made of his firm, indefatigable embrace of what is called “Originalism”, defined as a principle of interpretation that views the Constitution’s meaning as fixed as of the time of enactment.

This is particularly embraced by political conservatives and a number of past and present Supreme Court Justices, especially late Justice Scalia. It may be reasonably argued that even he was not an absolute adherent to ‘Originalism’.

I contend that the term, Originalism is inappropriately interchangeably used with the doctrine of adherence to ‘Original Intent.’ It is not unreasonable to conclude that the Founding Fathers reasonably expected, hoped for, and intended the textual specificity of the Constitution be a lasting guide, yet not stone tablets.

Disagreement has long existed amongst learned students of the Constitution as to whether it is either a static or living document. My writing here, as a thinking lay person, not as a legal scholar, is that the matter was settled in the writing of the Constitution itself by the oft referred to and revered ‘Founding Fathers’.

My ‘brief’, if you will, as set forth below need not be and is not lengthy; and the soundness of its assertions discernible by employment of simple reading and comprehension, a modicum of dispassion, and a tad of logic.

It is clear that while the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution be a bold and textual document exemplifying profound principles—even those not fully lived out by the Founding Fathers themselves at the time of its writing—they also designed and created it to be a living, rather than a static document.

OFFER OF PROOF:

This is made clear by at least one simple and unassailable fact: the Constitution, i.e. Article V, provides for amendments, unlimited by number or scope, and without specifying that said amendments be constrained by ‘Original Intent.’ Example of the latter: obviously the meaning of The Preamble’s “All men” clearly did not refer to women, blacks and other non-whites.

By contrast, for adherents to Judeo-Christian teachings, the Ten Commandments was delivered with no such provision for amendments, and is therefore a very clear example of a static document.

SUMMARY:

In summary, the U.S. Constitution is a living document, voluntarily constrained only by thoughtful and considered judgment, not blind-adherence to what can only be called educated divining of “Original Intent”.

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Gene Cartwright, author

Gene Cartwright,
Author, Inventor, Past Oprah guest, past Pulitzer-nominee
GeneCartwright.com (all books on author site are autographed and included eBook version.)

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