I have been loosely following the latest Supreme Court nomination, so I thought I would put out some thoughts that go contrary to an Originalist’s view of the Constitution. Plainly speaking it makes no sense to me in that it goes against everything the primary founders believed. How’s that for an opening statement? 🤣
Unlike most of my posts in the pre-election period, I don’t intend this one to be political. It is about the historical idea of original thoughts of the founders. Here is a snippet about that from my friends at Wikipedia. I don’t intend to get down into the nitty-gritty on this as millions of words have been written on the topic, but I do want to look at one narrow aspect of this view.
I am a pretty avid reader of American history as I have been reading about it for more than fifty years now. One of my primary heroes during that period was James Madison who is known as the Father of the Constitution. He is my hero because he was a little guy like me with a big brain. Anyway I have read numerous articles about how he, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton fought bitterly over the meaning of the Constitution that they helped draft and ratify.
Madison took a very firm stand that future generations would have to adapt the Constitution’s general principles to their own times. He believed that the document he primarily wrote was just a starting point. It was meant to be fluid for future generations to change. To me, that is what the original Originalist laid down and should be the foundation by all future Originalists.
So, the question is which of the founders do present Originalists follow? They just didn’t agree to just what the Constitution meant even back then. As an example, I can’t fathom how these so-called Originalists can look at the 2nd amendment and totally disregard the first half which are of the qualifying words remainder. Looking at those words from the original writers would be something similar to the taking up arms against British tyranny. In the days of F22 Fighter Planes, atomic bombs, and laser guided missiles is it really relevant that a person has a handgun or even an assault rifle? Even if it were, do well regulated militias even exist today? I think we call them terrorists groups now. Using the logic of original thought should almost automatically make the 2nd Amendment moot in today’s world.
So, in my mind those who say they are originalists are kind of like the Evangelicals who have thrown out 95% of the words of Jesus and still call themselves Christians. Harsh words but I do stand behind them.