“The Constitution is a living document” is a phrase I have been hearing more and more since the Other Side has been losing in the Courts.
Most often associated with the Clintons, Al Gore –and now the Obama Administration — the “Living Constitution” or “Evolving Constitution” is a philosophy that demands that we read the Constitution of the United States according to a socially-generalized modern viewpoint, rather than the interpretation the writers of that document used.
I see that I have lost some of my Gentle Readers. Allow me to illustrate.
In the Second Amendment, mention is made of “the Militia”. In the time that the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, “the Militia” was every free man capable of bearing arms. Every one.
“The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.”)
To a proponent of the Living Constitution, though, this doesn’t matter. To their way of thinking, “the militia” — indeed the entire document — must be read according to today’s popular sensibilities.
So, where the Founding Fathers defined “militia” as “every free man capable of bearing arms”; and the current Federal Government defines “militia” as “all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and under 45 years of age”; the proponent of the Living Constitution defines “militia” as the National Guard.
The reasoning for this is, near as I can tell, that the socially-generalized modern interpretation (read: Public Opinion) holds that the “militia” is the National Guard, then the intent of the Founding Fathers, Federal Law, and precedent be damned … “the militia” in the Second Amendment obviously must be the National Guard. Because the majority of Joe Sixpack thinks so.
I have a couple of problems with this way of reading the Constitution.
The Constitution was written by a group of men who were incredibly well-read, well-educated, and well-versed in Law, Logic, History and Philosophy. These men are spoken of as being intelligent, but their intelligence was based upon logic, upon application and upon discourse, rather than upon rote.
So. On one paw you have a group of men who wrote articles and books which are read to this very day, who invented items and pioneered philosophies which influence our lives every day;
And on the other you have Modern American Society … which thinks that ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ is the height of entertainment; who can’t find Hungary on a map with the sodding Latitude and Longitude right under their noses; who believe that the President of the United States has the power to unilaterally balance the Federal Budget — and who consistently rank the public travails of a white-trash pop-tart walking train-wreck as being, like, sooooo much more interesting than those boring old laws passing through Congress. People who have spent — nay, wasted — their childhood in the American Public Education System, where they are taught what to think, rather than how to think.
Oh, the choices. Do I base my government on the bedrock laid by such men as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others — or do I base my government on a modern reinterpretation by a society which appears to value “self-esteem” as being far more important than, you know … earning that self-esteem.
Bear this in mind, O Gentle Reader, during the current game of Political Handegg (which is — metaphorically-speaking, what the American Election Process has evolved into): any candidate who believes in, or mentions “Living Constitution” or “Evolving Constitution” seriously believes that the Founders of this Great Nation (and the writers of the bedrock of this Great Nation) were wrong; and that the Mob (Honey Boo-Boo, anyone?) are right.