Constitutional Constructionists
Last comment by shapechanger 5 years ago.

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OK, here's how I see it (whatever it is). You have your strict constructionists (e.g. Ironside) and your "living" document constructionists (e.g. Dale and others) and your undecided (that would be me). I can argue this puppy both ways. The government (and I mean any government at any level) cannot create a program which cannot be abused - and it will be! No matter how well intentioned. No matter how well designed. The very worst programs are designed to correct historical wrongs (real or perceived) such as set asides in government contracts for "minority" contractors. What happens? Big company goes out, forms a new subsidiary fronted by a black or a female - I know they are not a minority but when did facts stop the road to Hell from being paved with good intentions? - or a Pacific-Asian islander, grabs those set aside contracts and money flows to the same pockets.

The idea that the Constitution must be interpreted as it was written without thinking about the current times is foolish. The idea the Constitution must be interpreted based upon the current times without regard to original intent is foolish. Strict adherence to either point of view is the consistency which is the hobgoblin of small minds.

The Federal government has stepped in and trod upon "states rights" in many appropriate and beneficial situations. It has also trod upon states rights (I only use quotation marks once, after that I figure the reader can figure it out) in inappropriate situations. Which form of constitutional constructionist you are will allow you to provide your own examples.

This country was founded on the principle of limited centralized government. The failure of states to recognize and protect all inhabitants of this country necessitated Federal action. That is not debatable for anyone breathing cleaner air nor toiling in slavery. But, read your history - from the very beginnings even Jefferson overeached from the intent of the Constitution when he thought it necessary for the good of the country. Power corrupts. We need the strongest preventive we can get - an informed voting population.

Latest Activity: Mar 19, 2013 at 4:10 PM

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theflyonthewall commented on Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 at 17:22 PM

The fact that we can have this dialog would indicate that the Constitution is in place and working. In one sense, countries are organic. Countries that can adapt and evolve flourish. Countries that cannot adapt die. Let us hope that the spirit of the American Revolution ---and the Constitution is a part of that revolution---still endures. So we take the best of the past and face the future bravely.To this end we cannot allow the Constitution to be forever fixed in amber.

Charles_and_Angie_Howell commented on Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 at 19:16 PM

The Constitution can be interpreted either way - Like Bryant I consider myself to be a middle of the road kinda guy on the Constitution.

To me, the 'tyranny of the minority' is the problem.

The problem begins when some smart -ss decides that his perspective is being infringed upon. Well, he MUST have equal protection (was he threatened?) under the law! Now he will find a lawyer at the ACLU who is will to pursue the matter all the way to the SCOTUS. Suddenly (not really) some activity which went on harmlessly for years is now verbotten, or worse, must be opened to allow counter points which do not argue, or present another side, but simply ridicule a ideal held in high esteem by a majority of people concerned.

Example - Christmas Display in Santa Monica (?) had 90% (offensive, in my opinion) atheist displays and only 2-3 Christian displays. Attendance at the usually crowded, busy venue was down - only protesting atheists and a few die hard Christian. The FAMILIES stayed away.

That crap did more harm than good! Tyranny of the Minority makes me sick to my stomach!

Scott Garner commented on Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 at 21:08 PM

In response to the term "Tyranny of the Minority," may I present my friend John Scalzi:

If you would like to read more on the same topic, by the same author:

Some of this delves a little bit into gamer culture, but the principle is the same. Think "Monopoly," but where some players get to roll three dice instead of two, start with an extra $250 and pay 5% less for property.

Charles_and_Angie_Howell commented on Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 at 21:44 PM

I followed it.

I will stick to a tyranny of the minority. Life is not fair. It deals us all bad hands. It also apportions pleasure and pain in accordance with the choices we make. Atheism is a choice. I believe other things are choices as well. If you CHOOSE to follow your own path, quit fussing about being 'discriminated against.'

If an atheist raises a stink about a Christmas display that harms no one, and ruins the whole thing for everyone EXCEPT disrespectful atheists who are clearly in the minority - that is an injustice in my book.

Of course, if those are the rules, then those ARE the rules. When Christians figure out that the government cannot interfere with the practice of their religion and the atheists are on the losing end... remember the rules.

It would be SOOO much nicer if we could all live and let live. My experience is that most folks are willing to do that. I am offended by things every day, never once filed a lawsuit. I wish other people had thicker skin and more consideration for their fellow human.

shapechanger commented on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013 at 00:15 AM

Bryant, Dale

Well done and I agree with the majority of what you said. The argument over the right size of government has been going on since the first days of the government and I am sure that it will continue till the last days of the government. We find ourselves in interesting times (old Persian curse).

We have the Baby boomers collecting SS and Medicare and a rising population of of working poor. We have a rapidly changing demographic from a majority white to a majority non-white. We have external and internal challenges to the status qua. We even have a rise in "state's rights". (This term has been highjacked and manipulated.)

Today the when I hear the term "state's rights" used I watch a federal program kept and the funding pushed to the states. The states then push the funding needs to the counties and the counties in turn push it to the local community and my property taxes go up to pay for the federal program.

We have to be able to deal with all the issues that we face as a society and a nation without attacking the Constitution. The document is alive and well and sets forth for us the intentions of our founding fathers. We have to be responsible enough to reflect their intentions and apply them to the issues we face today.

Let us not mistake a repressed minority for a small group with the loudest voice. In fact the groups that historically been repressed is also the one that has had no voice. Today a few people can make a lot of noise with the internet. The mention of holiday decorations is one point above that I have had personal experience with.

When I was in college there was a friend of mine that is Jewish and I saw the confusion and her their children experienced during Christmas time. They do not celebrate Christmas and yet every were they turn around it is shoved upon them. I think that I might feel the same way they did if I were living in an Islamic country and I could not get away from their faith.

This country was in part founded on the idea of religious freedom. We have to consider that other faiths exist in this country. If you think that other faith have the same consideration as the Christian faith does, I suggest you look at the federally recognized (paid) holidays. I do not get any Jewish or Islamic (paid or otherwise) holidays off.

Are white Christan afraid they will be treated the same way they have treated other non-white/non-Christians? This is time for us to learn, grow and heal and not to go on the attack or defense.

Charles_and_Angie_Howell commented on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013 at 07:22 AM

Geez guys, I must have grown up in a water and snow filled paperweight. Actually, I grew up in Savannah - white, lower middle class, attending private school on the lowest social rung in those circles. That is as honest as I can be.

I had more than a few Jewish friends. Male and female; some popular, some not. Child to child, I never saw them 'struggle' with Christmas. They celebrated Hannakah a few weeks before Christmas - no big deal to them. They invited Christian friends over to celebrate Passover - though I was never one. I probably felt more comfortable with Jews than Baptists. I say this to offer this opinion - I think some of this 'conflict' is imagined and projected a lot more than it actually occurs. Tyranny. Attention seeking.

Dale, I am not attacking you or your perspective, but geez people, do any of us really know and understand what REAL persecution is? I haven't seen a homosexual beat up in .... decades. I know it happens - used to happen regularly in Savannah. Haven't heard of one recently, have you? Race relations? When is the last time we had a good ol fashioned cross burning (tongue in cheek)? I think I remember one from the early...70's. I hear interacial couples complain that some people "look at them." OOOO, give me a break. My coworker is a black man from up north married to an attractive blonde. I never hear him say a word. He did tell me about segregated laundramats in Columbus GA back in the 70's, and restaurants where they KNEW not to go. He is the type of person to call racism when he sees it. I think in comparison to back then, he doesn't see enough worth mentioning. Neither does another, even older, co-worker who went to a segregated school and is happily married to a woman of a different race. These are not shy or retiring men; neither are they firebrands. But they will call a situation what it is.

My opinion - America is currently a pretty harmonious, accepting culture of all kinds of people. The exception seems to be when someone decides that they have been 'subjected to discrimination' because they didn't get the best seat, or can only get a 'civil union' instead of a 'marriage.' Cry me a river... and try to imagine how it used to be, and how far we have come!

22 commented on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013 at 11:54 AM


John Scalzi writing on the straight white male is nonsense. Nothing but a catalyst for more negative conceptions.
His words do nothing to help improve anyones life. He should stick to fiction.


Ironside commented on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013 at 21:26 PM

Those who believe in our Constitution believe in the rule of law.
1. "We The People" determine what that law will be through our Representatives in Congress, the only place that law can be written.
2.Congress can only write law that does not violate the Constitution.
3. Congress is the only place that a law can be changed or eliminated, with one exception.
4. The exception is a Constitutional Amendment.

Those who believe in our Constitution, an thus the rule of law, clearly understand that our Constitution can and does change with the times. We started with Ten Amendments "The Bill Of Rights" and now have 27 Amendments to our Constitution, and some of the Amendments have been changed by other Amendments. So the notion that our Constitution does not keep up with the times, that it is not "hip" or "with it" is false. It can and does change with the times.

Our Founding Fathers warned us that "We The People" must remain God loving because society needed a moral foundation , and that the Judeo Christian philosophy was the best philosophy on morality in the world). They also understood that "We The People" must remain, generation after generation, educated about our Constitution, and how it provides for a Republican form of government, with many checks and balances built into it, to protect individual freedom, or we would lose our freedom.

Finally, our system of government has been so bastardized by our politician over the course of the last one hundred years, that only a handful of Americans who have dedicated themselves to reading about our founding, the Constitutional Convention notes on the deliberations, and the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers on what our Founding Fathers gave to us and WHY. Is it any wonder that we can be made to fight among ourselves, each thinking we know the Constitution and how things should run in this country?

The Constitution was to be the one thing that bound us together as a nation of free people, with a common understanding. It gave us our unique American identity, and outlook on life. It made us different then any other person in the world. We all have to know it and understand it, if we are to be Americans. That is why immigrants had to take a test on it. That is why it is taught in our schools. It is why all members of our Military, Law Enforcement, and Elected Officials take an oath to Support and Defend it. Sadly, today we have the blind leading the blind, because it is not being taught the way it use to be.

shapechanger commented on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013 at 23:52 PM

Charlie, Dale

Having lived through the race riots of the 60's, I have seen first hand how bad things can get. While the tone has softened it does not mean that it has gone away. There is still a cultural collective memory of the events, behaviors and consequences. These things influence peoples actions and beliefs now and into the future.

When I hear comments about school violence being the direct result of school prayer being taken out of the schools, it makes me cringe. We have our own set of religious fundamentalists in the Christian community and they also play victim and believe that the country is being taken from them by unconstitutional laws. If SCOTUS says a community display must include all religions that want to be a part of the display.

These fundamentalists claim that SCOTUS is destroying the constitution. We have to be careful about the actions of the fundamentalist groups in our community. After all fundamentalist actions in many other countries has worked out so well for them. This point becomes very clear when politicians wrap themselves in the flag and God to attract the ultra conservative.

The solutions to the many problems we face as a community and nation will not be found in the extremes. Nor will be be found any of the one size fits all solutions other groups promote. When I think of the one size fits all I think of a moomoo and that looks bad on anyone wearing it. The reality is that the issues we face are very complex and will need to have complex solutions. The constitution and each faith sacred texts will need to provide guidance in finding the solutions that will not only work short term, they will also work long term. This is why I believe as was pointed out earlier, the constitution is a living document and helps us understand how the founding principles of our country need to be applied to issues and technologies our founding fathers could not have thought or dreamed of.

shapechanger commented on Thursday, Mar 21, 2013 at 00:04 AM

Ironside, Dale

An issue with a your first point.

1. "We The People" determine what that law will be through our Representatives in Congress

"We the People" have nothing to do with what laws are past and how they are enforced. This was given up to lobbyists along time ago. Big businesses tell congress what laws to pass and the lobbyists them them how to write it to protect the interests of the businesses.

From what I have seen from the members of congress tells me they are more beholden to their political parties, ideologies and their largest campaign donors. That is something that has to change and only campaign finance reform will bring us back a functioning "We the People"

I would propose that the only people that can contribute to a candidate are those that are eligible to vote for that candidate. It would not matter what district or precinct the election was in. Only those that can vote in that district can give money. That should drop the costs, funds raised and the amount of campaign ads we see during an election season. (We all look so forward to all the TV

Charles_and_Angie_Howell commented on Thursday, Mar 21, 2013 at 07:41 AM

Dale, Charlie

I agree the tone has softened and that racism still exists - all around. My point is that at some point we all have to move on. It is time for ALL the races to take responsibility for their own situation.

Prayer in school is a complex issue. Personally, I would like to see it re-instated but it MUST include all religions present in that class/school. Atheists should not have a problem with this since they don't believe in God anyway. Just stand/sit quietly and consider that the rest of us are fools who believe in 'imaginary' Beings.

Like you, I have little use for extremists/fundamentalists. See my earlier comments about a tyranny of the minority? Minority also = extremists/fundamentalist.

I do believe I am a very moderate person, but one of the few things I cannot tolerate is intolerance!

Ironside commented on Thursday, Mar 21, 2013 at 09:20 AM

Shapechanger: Our Founding Fathers feared mob rule. They feared political parties because thet saw them as mob rule. Work to get the biggest mob of people to vote for your Party and you rule the day. This is the immigration struggle. They saw the House of Representatives as a place were new untested ideas and whims could manifest themselves into a legislative bill. The older and more experienced members of the Senate could stop this type of legislation, because Senators were chosen by each State's Legislature to protect the Rights of the States and the People (Tenth Amendment). That changed when the Liberals got the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Now the Senators are no different than the members of House, yielding to the same untested whims of the times, because their focus now is on the political agenda of the Party they belong to, not the State they come from. The 17th Amendment has destroyed the Federalism (Republic) that our Founding Fathers put into our Constitution , to provide the checks and balances to the House of Representatives, and stop much of the nonsense we are dealing with in Washington today.

You are so right about who can give money to a candidate. Only the individual who can legally vote for that candidate should be able to give money. Corporations,unions, political action groups and so on, can not give money.

Bryant commented on Thursday, Mar 21, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Thanks to everyone for good comments!

Charles_and_Angie_Howell commented on Thursday, Mar 21, 2013 at 13:07 PM

Bryant, sorry I got a little off topic, but often people want to use the Constituion to affect a social issue one way or the other.

I read a very good article today that stated that most social issues should be handled through legislation and law, NOT the 9 member, unelected SCOTUS.

That was the opinion of of Antonin Scalia (I think), and I think it is a very good opinion. That is a position that everyone should be able to support.

Ironside commented on Thursday, Mar 21, 2013 at 21:36 PM

Yes, social issues were to be handled through the legislative process and law. The Tenth Amendment retained those Rights to the States and the People. Social issues were to be handled by local government. Laws passed by local government that provided good social policy would expand Statewide. Other States that saw the benifits of these policies and laws could also pass them for their State.

We know that this was the intent of our Founding Father because the greatest social issue that has confronted our nation slavery was left to each of the first 13 States to deal with, because of the Tenth Amendment. All the Northern States outlawed slavery in their State Constitutions. The Southern States did not. Slavery could only be outlawed in the Southern States by a Federal law or a Constitutional Amendment. That is why new States had to join the Union in pairs, one a free State the other a slave State, to keep the number of U.S. Senators evenly split, so Congress could not pass a national law to outlaw slavery. Thus the Civil War. Had the South not seceded in 1860 and fired on Fort Sumter, the Southern States by 1870 would have begun to end slavery, because the industrial revolution that was producing new farm equipment to replace human labor, would by economic necessity have forced the issue on the Southern States. Using the Judicial Branch to deal with social issues is the worst place to solve social issues, because judges are not elected to represent the people.

shapechanger commented on Friday, Mar 22, 2013 at 00:37 AM

Ironside, Dale

The Liberals could not and did not get the 17th Amendment passed. It would required a 2/3 majority of the Senate, Congress, President, states (legislatures and governors). The idea that Liberals did it is simply simplistic at best. I am sure the Conservatives have also played a role in the passing the the 17th Amendment.

Bryant commented on Friday, Mar 22, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Ironside, I disagree with your 3/21 post. The slavery issue was not sidestepped because the framers believed the states should deal with it. They were silent on the issue (except for the 3/5's rule) because they knew the United States would never come to pass if they made the attempt. And I fail to see how slavery could ever be considered a "social" issue.

Charlie, SCOTUS should deal with Constitutionality and disputes among states. But most social issues arise within the context of legality or equal protection. So, once those issues are in the courts and rise to the level of SCOTUS, they have to either decide the issue or refuse to hear it. I guess it all depends on what you believe to be social issue versus a legal issue.

Ironside commented on Friday, Mar 22, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Shapechanger: It was the Woodrow Wilson Progressives (Liberals) that pushed for the 17th Amendment.

Bryant: You are right that to push the Southern States on the issue of slavery would have collapsed the Constitutional Convention. To the South at that time slavery was a property issue not a social issue, to the North it was a social issue, their State Constitutions outlawed slavery and is why the abolitonist movement of the North and it's help with the underground railroad came to be. Also the 3/5ths of a person for counting people for Congressional Representatives was a compromise to get the South to approve the Constitution.

shapechanger commented on Saturday, Mar 23, 2013 at 19:43 PM

Ironside, Dale

You can blame a liberal administration all you want. It still does not negate the fact that over two thirds of the country have to vote for it or it would not have happened. You and so many others like to pedal the idea that one person can amend the Constitution and that is just not the facts. No administration no matter how liberal or conservative can pass an amendment to the constitution on its own and you know that to be true.

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