The US Constitution: A Living Document?

Discussion in 'Politics & Law' started by Mirage, Jan 25, 2009.


How Should Consitutional Law Be Changed/Added/Repealed?

  1. Reinterprettiing the original intent according to the times.

  2. Ammending the constitution according to the times.

  1. Mirage

    Mirage Administrator Staff Member V.I.P.

    Obama has stated that he feels the US Constitution is a living document and that as such, it must be interpreted according to the times we are living in.

    Tell me then, why do we have an amendment process?

    For example, he wants to twist the 2nd amendment to allow for an "Assault Weapons Ban". This has been accused over and over again of being unconstitutional.

    By reading the constitution "according to the times" then we are opening the door to our amendments being overturned simply by the stroke of a pen.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe it takes 3/4th's of the states voting in favor of adding or repealing an amendment before it becomes federal law.

    If something needs to be "reinterpreted" according to the times then it should be done so through the amendment process. If 3/4th's of the states don't approve so called "reinterpretation" then it shouldn't become law.

    Otherwise we can look forward to having our rights "reinterpreted" with the stroke of a pen vs due process.

  2. Stab-o-Matic5000

    Stab-o-Matic5000 Cutting Edge in Murder

    I personally agree with the thought that changes should be made through the amendment process. It's why it's there, after all. However, parts of the constitution are open to interpretation, but only in the manner of how it correlates to new advances that did not exist back in the days of the founding of America. To explain what I am talking about, I'll give an example. The internet is a good one. The internet can get really confusing when you try to apply the constitution to it. For instance, how does the first amendment apply to the internet? How does the fourth amendment apply to the internet?

    As time goes on, and more advances are made in technology and science, the constitution will need to be interpreted to interact with these new advances. However, any sort of actual change to the document should be done through amendments.
  3. pro2A

    pro2A Hell, It's about time!

    If you read the federalist papers it's pretty clear the founders knew that times and technology would change. They constructed a document to be applicable in all times. It's clear as day. This whole mentality of, well it doesn't apply anymore so we'll just ignore it is crap.

    We have an amendment process to correct anything "wrong" with it. As we know the states won't go for that. They all have their own similar constitutions which fall in line with the national Bill of Rights, so it'd would be difficult to see the states overturn a right.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  4. MAgnum9987

    MAgnum9987 Do What Thou Wilt

    I must agree that Obama's interpretation of the living document ideology is slightly twisted. He can make his own interpretation, but tit still goes against the Constitution. When the Bill of Rights was written (First ten ammendmants) they where supposed to be the final word of everything, but Everyone can agree that they are too broad. In fact, they are SO broad, that the best way for the states t end such debates is to go to the town level, and let individual townships make their own interpretations and enforce such laws in their town. This means more of the population will be satisfied, at least.
  5. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    There are some things the Constitution is very clear on: e.g. you have to be no younger than 35 to be president. Other things are much more vague and open to interpretation, such as what constitutes a cruel and unusual punishment. The very language used there suggests the Constitution's a living document, since what's considered "cruel and unusual" changes with time. The Founders disagreed on many matters, though, and crafted the language to be broad enough to be agreeable to the parties involved in its drafting and ratification.

    There were disagreements on how to interpret the document when the Founders were alive. To speak of "original intent" where the Constitution is clearly vague, begs the question of whose intent we're talking about, since the members of the Constitutional Convention had different takes on things. Those who deify the Founders tend to project their own views into them, but I think we have to keep in mind that they were a group of individuals.

    Even if there were an agreed upon standard in 1787 as to what exactly constituted a cruel and unusual punishment, it isn't at all clear that the Founders would have all wanted us to use that standard as opposed to our own. Consider that some of the Founders seemed aware that slavery was in conflict with the values America was alleged to have been founded upon, but left it to future generations to correct their mistake.

    We have an amendment process for many reasons, and the fact we have it suggests the Founders anticipated that the document was not ideal and timeless. One of the reasons we have it is to add to the Constitution. Another would be to clarify the Constitution. Yet another would be to strike things from the Constitution. Those who suggest the Constitution is a living document, don't suggest that judges should ignore it and rule however they like. They merely think many parts of it are vague and that judges should take into account present circumstances and exercise a degree of pragmatism when in doubt.

    Edit: When writing this post, I forgot that Madison pretty much wrote the Bill of Rights by his lonesome, and included things being demanded by the States; but the people who ratified the Constitution along with the Bill of Rights, were ratifying what they took it to mean. The idea that all debates over the Bill of Rights should hinge solely on a psychoanalysis of Madison and interpretation of his writings seems as absurd as it does terrifying.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  6. Stab-o-Matic5000

    Stab-o-Matic5000 Cutting Edge in Murder

    Your idea that the bill of rights are supposed to be the final word on everything is just plain false, it even says right in the 9th amendment that they are not.
  7. Zachary

    Zachary ,,l,, //_- ,,l,,

    i feel like posting something really stupid so here it is: omg its alive?! SHOOT IT...

    ok now to be serious leave it be.
  8. MAgnum9987

    MAgnum9987 Do What Thou Wilt

    What I mean is, that if any dispute goes to the Supreme Court, the Bill of Rights is the final word, the Justices decide whether if the happening in question goes with or against the Bill of Rights.

    But, I do believe the states have the right to interpret the constitution according to their standards.

Share This Page