Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in a speech that people who believe that the U.S. constitution is a “living document” are idiots. He said this to the federalist Society, a group founded 1982 on the belief that the top law schools were (and probably still are as far as they are concerned) too liberal.
"That's the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break. But you would have to be an idiot to believe that," Scalia said. "The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."
This is pretty typical of conservatives isn’t it? In a way it’s not really all that different than they see their Bible.
For whatever reason, they are comfortable with the idea that the Bible, Koran or the US Constitution are like Cumaean Sibyl’s nine books of prophesy that she offered Lucius Tarquinius Superbus.
These books supposedly had the answers to any problem that Rome could find itself facing if you just dug around deep enough.
Romans ended up consulting these books at many jeopardous moments in Roman history, most notably when they were about to get invaded by Hannibal. Like the Bible or the US constitution, some people at the time thought Sibyl’s nine books of prophesy those books held the answers to everything.
In ancient China they had an idea of legalism that wasn’t all that different than Scalia, their brand of legalism was built on the idea that the pre-existing body of authoritative legal materials that they had already contained a uniquely pre-determined "right answer" to any legal problem that may arise.
It would’ve been nice if it were true.
Japan later adopted a similar approach to law as China, and it worked so well for them that it ended up pushing the country down the road to anarchy and ushered in the era of the Shogun which lasted 700 years to bring them out of it.
But that’s neither here nor there, we are Americans. We are different.
Obviously since it didn’t work in Rome, China or Japan they must’ve been mistaken about their documents holding all the answers.
Our 200 year old document is more than capable of handling whatever we throw at it, it won’t throw us into anarchy, and to prove it, why don’t we give all the African Americans back over to white people to own as property.
"Scalia does have a philosophy, it's called originalism," he said. "That's what prevents him from doing the things he would like to do."
Before the constitution was amended, slavery of human beings was clearly legal here in the US, let’s just go back to that.
Wait, what do you mean by "amended"?
Why would the founding fathers make provisions to allow Congress to have this perfect document amended?
Why would it need to be amended if it was already capable of addressing every single issue that might come up?
Because they knew it wasn’t capable of doing the very thing that Scalia is proposing that it can do.
Society changes Scalia. You should know that better than most. Isn't that why he is so angry all the time?
Outside of Scalia and other functioning mildly retarded angry old men like himself, I would like to believe that most Americans are against human beings owning other human beings and forcing them to work without financial compensation under the threat of death.
Maybe I am wrong.
If you thought slavery was a contentious issue in 1780, saying that it would also be contentious today in 2006, well that would be like comparing the brightness of a flood light to the sun.
The main reason slavery and the trafficking of human beings was an issue when drafting the constitution was because white male landowners in the South wanted to count their slaves as people so they could get more representation in government. In other words, they wanted credit for a population that legally they didn’t have, since only whites counted for anything.
Today slavery would be contentious for entirely different reasons.
But then again, I guess that depends on who you are speaking with.
To some people, the Constitution is like a spell book and within it are all the answers that we’ll ever need.
The US Constitution, according to Scalia, written by men over 200 years ago placed somewhere in that document everything that we need to know about stem cell research or biological engineering and the legality of it all.
So in Scalia’s mind,Thomas Jefferson while unable to even conceive of atoms and molecules stayed awake at nights thinking about whether or not it is constitutional to splice the genes of a firefly with a human embryo so we can grow iridescent babies in test tubes and then wrote the answer down in the US constitution.
The founding fathers of this nation did the impossible didn’t they? They provided for us answers to things that they couldn’t have possibly conceived of.
Maybe I am looking too deep into this. Maybe Scalia was taking people literally and he thinks that liberals really do think that the constitution is “living” as in it needs to be fed, watered and pruned back every once in a while.
Democracy is truly frightening.