Thursday, August 18, 2005

Constitutional "originalists"

President Bush has appointed John Roberts to be the next Justice of the Supreme Court. He has selected Roberts because Bush believes Roberts has the same judicial philosophy as his model justices, Scalia and Thomas. He wants an "originalist" who will make decisions based on the Constitution as it was originally written.

Allen Snyder writes about what all this "original" talk means in terms of how cases should be decided:

1) Strict Constructionist: The Constitution means today what its words and phrases meant when they were first written down by those who drafted and ratified it.

2) Original Intent: Interpretation should be consistent with what it was originally intended to mean by those who drafted and ratified it.

3) Original Meaning: Interpretation of the Constitution should be based on what it would commonly have been understood to mean by reasonable persons living at the time of its ratification.

Then Snyder cites Article II, Section I of the US Constitution wherein the qualifications and manner of election for the President are laid out including the Presidential Oath of Office:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: - "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Something's missing isn't it? No, this is exactly as written in the Constitution. But what does every president say when he takes the oath? " help me God."

So how do we interpret Article II, Section I according to the "originalists?" Either:

1) "Say the Oath as printed -- if we wanted God in there, we'd have put him in there."

2) "Say the Oath as printed -- if we wanted God in there, we'd have put him in there."

3) "Say the Oath as printed -- if we wanted God in there, we'd have put him in there."

Why no objection from the "originalists" to the inclusion of "So help me God"? Because being a Constitutional preservationist, strict constructionist, or originalists has nothing to do with interpreting the Constitution. From Snyder:

It's about turning back the clock on defending the rights of individuals, women, minorities, and the environment . . . It's about doing away with regulations that provide for a safe workplace, eliminating limits on pollution and the defiling of the natural landscape, ending affirmative action, ending campaign finance limits, allowing prayer and bible crap in public schools, posting the ten commandments, bringing back discrimination and segregation, criminalizing homosexuality, and reducing the power of the legislative branch while exalting that of the executive.

Because none of that stuff is in the Constitution, is it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...


All this constrictionist, virginal intent, not a living document crap, pisses me off.

Please tell me if I am wrong here…if it is not a living document, stricties, explain the AMENDMENTS to me, especially the 18th and 21rst? No you can’t…yes you can…

Anyway thanks for the post

10:12 AM, August 19, 2005  
Blogger curtis said...

My thoughts

11:27 PM, August 19, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so I was just reading our Declaration of Independence...

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

I'm just saying....When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another

(yea I have posted this at a few other sites)

5:22 AM, August 25, 2005  

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