It is a written Constitution that we are interpreting
rs at robertsheridan.com
Tue Sep 21 07:28:33 PDT 2010
In other words no one need apply to interpret the Constitution except
you, for you're about the only one I've ever heard of who takes such
an...not to say idiosyncratic, position (with respect for the effort).
The Framers wrote the damn thing for the likes of me and the rest of us
to use and I doubt they expected us to consult more than the text.
There are no footnotes referring to sources and methods. This is our
hobby. They certainly didn't expect us to psychoanalyze them. As for
Shakespeare, the guy made a living out of creating ambiguity, see H.
Amlet. A masterpiece of one confused guy by a very clever guy. Harold
Bloom still can't figure him out, so he's raised him to the godhead of
fictional characters, which is what I think the Originalists tend to do
about the Text, claiming to have some special insight that the rest of
us are, admittedly, incapable of doing. Seeking Original Meaning is
perhaps the biggest expenditure, not to say waste, of time I've ever
heard of, other than trying to define "reason" or which political party
is always right.
As I understand it from somewhere, the Framers wrote as simply and
clearly as they could so that ordinary folk wouldn't have a great deal
of difficulty understanding what they were trying to get across, which
is why the guy on the bus gets the same one vote as any of us here do.
Amazing, isn't it, that we only get one vote after all the discussion of
the Constitution we've done? Reminds me of the complaint of Tex in
"Catch-22" who thought that Good Ol' Boys like him deserved more votes
than say, blacks. Where is Joseph Heller when we need him...?
On 9/21/2010 6:22 AM, Jon Roland wrote:
> Yes, but written in the idiomatic legal English of 1787, which is a
> foreign language to people today. To understand it, as to understand
> any foreign language, one must immerse oneself in the culture of the
> time and place it was used. The assurance that one has done that comes
> when one can reliably predict the next words and style of authors on a
> topic. One has to be able to think, speak, and write in their words
> with their style. Try writing a play in the English of Shakespeare and
> you will get a sense of it.
> The Founders expected future generations to use the same common law
> rules of construction they used, which are very different from the
> rules of construction that evolved later. Power delegations were
> always to be interpreted strictly and narrowly, regardless of whether
> a word like "expressly" was redundantly used for emphasis. "General
> welfare" was not an additional delegation of power, but a restriction
> on other delegated powers. And delegations of powers were only
> authorizations to make a certain kind of limited effort, not to do
> whatever might be convenient to get a desired outcome. That could
> imply administrative lesser included powers, but not efforts of a
> different kind, as such efforts were classified. The powers to tax, to
> spend, to regulate, to prohibit, to promote, to provide, to prosecute
> as a crime, were all distinct powers, none of which could be derived
> from any of the others.
> On 09/21/2010 07:38 AM, Calvin Johnson wrote:
>> But is it not a written Constitution that we are interpreting?
> -- Jon
> Constitution Societyhttp://constitution.org
> 2900 W Anderson Ln C-200-322 Austin, TX 78757
> 512/299-5001jon.roland at constitution.org
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