Should Courts Seek the Original Meaning of the Constitution? Essay
The Constitution of the United States should is a flexible and dynamic document, that changes as the country it was framed for grows. This argument is not founded by what’s written in the constitution, but what’s absent. The framers were some of the greatest minds of the time period, and fabricated the constitution to protect those freedoms that had been denied to them by their former governments. These men however chose not to address how they wanted their words to be interpreted over time.
They were some of the greatest scholars of the era but chose not to address a key issue such as how their base of their new found government should be interpreted. It makes the argument that it was not the framers intent for the constitution to be interpreted literally, they have simply written into the constitution. The simple fact that didn’t address the issue in the document makes their intention to have the document interpreted loosely not literally very clear.
Putting aside the founder’s intentions for the document it would be unpractical to interpret the constitution literally word for word, then try and mold a government around it. The basic principles and ideals should be upheld, while adapting to the changes and needs of the country. The country has simply changed too much for the document to be interpreted word for word, and to do so would destroy its usefulness in our government. By not interpreting the constitution literally we allow it the ideals to adjust to our modern government. A good example of this is our traffic laws.
Obviously, there wasn’t a single automobile in the world when the constitution was framed, so the subject of how the United States would govern traffic violations was left out. However in the eighth section it does establish congress’s rights including ”To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States. ” So while the document doesn’t state word for word that the United States will give DUI’s, it does entitle congress to pass laws that are in the best interest of its citizens.
By interpreting the constitution this way it allows us to maintain the ideals engrained into the constitution, while adapting them to our modern needs in our government. Now obviously this allows thousands of debates over which points to interpret which ways, and how to maintain the ideals the constitution was founded upon. But once again, I think these arguments were foreseen by the framers of the constitution and not just allowed, but seen as necessary to maintain a moral government. By allowing the document to be debated and interpreted you draw in the morality of those who are debating it.
In setting up a government that is constantly changing I believe the framers were taking a risk. They believed they were founding a moral and ethical country that throughout its existence would be run by just that, moral and ethical people. The founders new the interpretation of the constitution would become a subject of debate, just like any other legal document. By setting up the constitution to change with our government they entrusted the morality of the country into the individuals that would be called and those who elect them into office.