Friday, December 31, 2010

Strict Constitutionalists

The Wingnut Wurlitzer has been piling on Ezra Klein for a couple of bland remarks he made about the GOP's silly gimmick of having the Constitution read on the House floor when they reconvene and he does some follow-up posts in the aftermath. Ezra makes a good point about Constitutional interpretation in light of the equally silly notion that adding a constitutional authority to all bills will make any difference:
To presume that people writing what they think the Constitution means -- or, in some cases, want to think it means -- at the bottom of every bill will change how they legislate doesn't demonstrate a reverence for the document. It demonstrates a disengagement with it as anything more than a symbol of what you and your ideological allies believe.

In reality, the tea party -- like most everyone else -- is less interested in living by the Constitution than in deciding what it means to live by the Constitution. When the constitutional disclaimers at the bottom of bills suit them, they'll respect them. When they don't -- as we've seen in the case of the individual mandate -- they won't.
He makes sense, which of course, set off another feeding frenzy on the internets.

Ezra was absolutely right to say interpreting the intention of the drafters is hard. For myself, I'd say the language was deliberately couched in ways that left it open to interpretation in the knowledge that they couldn't predict how society would evolve and meant it to be somewhat maleable to suit evolving circumstances. But for those "strict constitutionalists" who insist on seeing it as a static document, I'd suggest they can't really understand the drafters' intent unless they also live under the conditions that were prevalent at the time of its drafting.

So all those "strict constitutionalists" should immediately give up all technological improvements that have been made since it was signed in order to truly understand the Founders mindset. No cars, no airplane trips, no television, no radio, no internets, no household appliances, no central air or heat, hell just get off the national electric grid. And no ink pens either. Get out your quills and ink. And stay off paved highways.

No advanced medicine. No modern pharmaceuticals. And of course, no health insurance, Social Security or Medicare. No workplace safety rules and forget the 40 hour work week or overtime pay. Oh and no black guns anymore either. In other words, anyone who wants to "strictly interpret" a document written over 200 years ago needs to strictly live their lifestyle in order to truly channel their intent.

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Anonymous Ryan Colpaart said...

I've decide to utilize my marginal bully pulpit in defense of what Ezra Klein was implying. He obviously was not clear enough, perhaps an analogy would do the trick :

Ezra Klein In The Cross-Hairs Of Right Wing Outrage

12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Good post Ryan.

2:11:00 PM  

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