The United States Constitution; “A Living Document?”
Submitted by PrideandHonor on Wed, 01/02/2013 - 11:04
The Constitution of the United States stands as a guarantor of liberties and a set of laws that limit the scope and power of our federal government, not a “living document” which is by definition fluid, ever changing and a guarantor of nothing. Our laws and the Constitution as well are changeable. This is a certainty with the change processes being built in word for word and step by step. The will to “interpret” rather than change them, (which requires actual work to make happen) some would argue borders on being defined as traitorous. Officials are elected to preserve this Constitution not weaken, devalue or re-define it. Their oaths once sworn demand it, law and the population should do the same and not offer passion or forgiveness when not honored. Calling the Constitution a living document, by definition is far too variable of a term to be used when describing what is actually the solid base upon which our republic is built.
The Preamble to the Constitution its self, expresses in very plain fashion the strength of thought, the solemnity and the rigidity of the original document. The founding fathers of this Nation did not offer it for interpretation; they offered it as a framing document and an irrevocable base to build upon, not tear down. The Preamble to the Constitution reads; “…and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (Morris, Gouverneur and James Madison eds. Web). Alone, this statement denies all argument that the document is anything short of constant, and meant to guarantee its wording to citizens for perpetuity, not open its application or meaning for variance. Being a document of definition and one meant to hold fast for the length of time our nation is in existence. The use of limitations against it, as well as the interpretation of any statement within it becomes null and void at best. Using a term like “living document” to describe the U.S. Constitution is a shaded attempt at making what is law more “interpretive”, weakening its standards and violating personal freedoms and privileges held by citizens while expanding the powers our government holds.
The term law in and of its self brings to mind a fixed set of rules and penalties, that once set down is required to be applied evenly across the board. This would not be something open for application at varying degrees according to situation or individual citizens, nor to various interpretations by circumstances and the like. Benjamin Franklin saw that over time, our Constitution and laws therein, “with all its faults” could be disabled and even dismantled by interpretation and circumvention. Franklin, when talking about the Constitution said it is, “…likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government…” (Bailyn, eds. 3). The point being made here is that interpretation, and not equal application of law would over time allow despots to define, and re-define what the intent of a law was, without going through the actual steps to change said law. This way of approach would only weaken the Constitution over time, make a population more dependent upon the governing body and at end leave that population in servitude in one form or another. By nearly any standard the governing body that would allow this to happen would be held up as an example of treason in the eyes of the framers and even men of republics that have existed previously to it as well. Rome was possibly the most famous working example of a republic previously. Cicero, being one of its greatest voices and thinkers offered this in a speech when discussing laws being redefined by circumstance and laws being created by “decree” at the time, similar to...
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