An extra hour in the ballpit! Alriiight!
I CAN HEAR HER
Let me fucking tell you how much I hate orginalism.
It is so obvious that the Constitution of the United States was written in such a way to be able to evolve with a changing society (because the framers weren’t idiots and knew that it wasn’t going to stay 1787 forever) that it astounds me that anyone (especially a SUPREME COURT JUSTICE) would think otherwise. To me, it’s not even up for debate. The Constitution was, is, and always will be a living document.
The original meaning theory, which is closely related to textualism, is the view that interpretation of a written constitution or law should be based on what reasonable persons living at the time of its adoption would have declared the ordinary meaning of the text to be.
In what world is this even acceptable? In what world is what “reasonable persons” thought in 1787 relevant to today or pretty much any year after 1865?
Furthermore, there is no single “original” intent or “original” meaning. The Constitution was hashed out by 55 guys who all had very different opinions on EVERYTHING and I’m willing to bet every single one of them would have interpreted the Constitution’s meaning in different ways.
Not to mention the document itself is very inconsistent in terms of brevity and clarity. There are portions of it that are very straight forward and/or succinct and there are others where it is incredibly vague and/or long winded. It was essentially written on the basis that 1. The average person should have rights and power to make decisions in their own governance BUT 2. The average person is unreasonable and can’t always be trusted to make the right decisions. Neither of these aspects would be necessary if it was mean to be a rigid set of rules frozen in time. Times change and people change. The unreasonable person of 1787 isn’t the same as the unreasonable person of 1890, or 1950, or 2014 .
ALSO, IT’S FUCKING AMENDABLE.
Why would you make a framework for a system of government AMENDABLE if you meant for it to be taken literally, with ZERO deviation, for the next 368746248270 years?
At the end of the day I firmly believe that the majority of the framers believed in progress, equality, and liberty but they were also cowards. We can see this in their compromise on slavery. Don’t think for one second that across the board (legal) equality didn’t cross at least one person’s mind for even just a minute. But they didn’t do it because they were afraid. So they left it open for later generations to fix (and they knew they were doing this).
And this is the crux of the problem: They did not create a government of perfect liberty and equality. They created a government that aspired to perfect liberty and equality. This is where the conflict began almost immediately. There was, and is, a disconnect between what people (politicians, average citizens, everyone) perceive the US government to be. It has been a work in progress from the very beginning but the general consensus seems to be the opposite. Many Americans seem to think that the framers birthed a fully formed, fully functional system of government over a few hot summer days in the late 18th century. But they didn’t. And they knew they didn’t. Hell, the Supreme Court didn’t even have a real job until John Marshall decided to give it something to do in 1803 (because even REASONABLE PERSONS back then had no idea how to interpret article III section 1).
Ultimately the entire cultural attitude in the US toward its government’s history needs to change before SO MANY of the problems caused by it can be addressed. We need to stop glorifying the founders and framers and hanging on their every word. We need to stop pretending that the late 1700’s were “the good old days” when everyone’s rights were paramount to anything else. We need to stop romanticizing these “sacred” documents like they are the word of the Lord and Washington will smite you for regulating firearms.
Listen, I’m the first to admit I get choked up every time I hear the Declaration of Independence read aloud. I’m very passionate about this period in US history and there are many aspects of it that I find inspiring. And that’s what it should be. Inspiring. It should inspire people to live up to the leaps taken then in the name of equality and freedom so that those goals can finally be reached.