Constitutional Interpretation

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The constitution as a written document is very simple and vague, making it fundamentally political and thus requiring those who interpret it to take into account the present state of the country and the effects that their decision will have on the current populous. The founding fathers, like our politicians today, had conflicting ideas on how the country should be run, hence the length and vagueness of the document. Among these debates was the issue of the judiciary branch. Many believed that a branch whose members were not publicly elected, and thus not representing the will of the people, garnered more authority and power than the others. In response to such criticism, Alexander Hamilton wrote the Federalist 78, in which he said the courts as outlined by the constitution are the weakest branch of government because, "It [Judiciary Branch] may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments."(1) Hamilton, along with many others, believes that the constitution implies that the courts have the power to judge issues brought to the Supreme Court. The courts ability to rule on the constitutionality of issues is not specifically mentioned the constitution but was reaffirmed in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Marbury vs. Madison in 1803. In declaring that the courts have the ability to determine a laws constitutionality, chief justice John Marshall established a policy of judicial review. Marshall's decision gave the courts inherent powers the constitution didn't specifically mention but also created a new dilemma for the courts: how to go about interpreting laws.

Modernism or loose construction are terms used to define an approach taken to interpreting the constitution that incorporates the present day implication of the constitution on

issues brought before the court. It is quite obvious that America has changed over the course of history...
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