Thursday, February 10, 2011

Even Jove nods...


Referring to your last comment on your last post, no, we're not doomed. Now coming from a head hanging, Jimmy Carteresque, deep malaise maddened Lib, that's rather unexpected, don't you think?

This last little go 'round on the Vinson ruling has revealed, to me at least, an often unrecognized truth about the U.S. Constitution. Bear with me here...

All this recent palaver about the courts, activist judges and Big Government ought to give us pause, where we ask some important questions regarding the intentions of the Framers and the meaning of the magnificent document they created. To be sure, the nature of government today at all levels is probably very different from that which the Framers originally envisioned. However, it is also true that the nature of society itself has radically changed as well in ways the Framers could not have anticipated.

I daresay the Framers would have been astounded by the growth of huge, multinational corporations, many of which dwarf in size, power and influence most of the world's political nations. They would have trouble comprehending the downright amazing, revolutionary changes in transportation and communication - where travel times have been reduced from years and months to hours and minutes - and where information can spread across the globe in microseconds. This is not to even mention the advent of weapons capable of wiping out the human race altogether, or of unparalleled advances in chemistry and biology which have occasioned miracle cures as well as unintended maladies.

Sure, these and much, much more comprise changes in society which no sane person living in 1787 could come close to predicting. But one wonders, if they could have predicted these changes, would the Constitution they wrote have been much different?

Actually, I don't think so. I don't think so because I believe the Framers themselves ultimately recognized their own inability to create a document, able to guide a nation through time and unanticipated changes, and yet not itself be immune from change and evolving interpretation.

To my mind, the judicial branch established by the Constitution is the central instrument the Framers designed, to at some times allow and at other times prohibit, the changes in law and government deemed necessary to meet the challenges the Framers could not anticipate.

Often, when we are presented with Supreme Court rulings that have far reaching consequences which we deplore, we tend to assert the court is wrong in their interpretation of the Constitution. Naturally, when their rulings result in things we favor, we say they are right. But really, what we should be saying in all cases, regardless of the consequences, is that the Supreme Court is only acting, as they should, on the responsibility the Framers charged them with.

And you know Steve, even when court rulings go against our own political, social or religious opinions, the least we can say is that we live in a country capable of dealing with constant change, and yet still preserving the human dignity and liberties the Framers recognized as absolutely essential to any great nation.



1 comment:

  1. Nice post.

    I agree in general principle with where you appear to be going. The Framers had clear and distinct ideas about how the branches of government worked and what the responsibilities of each branch are. The protection of Individual Rights - not only from each other but also FROM the actions of government - is Job #1.

    I also agree with you that the Framers understood the Constitution would evolve over time, specifically to handle issues they did not address or could not imagine - and they defined processes by which those changes to the Constitution (and thereby the duties of government) were to be implemented.

    However, I think there is a distinct different in how you and I (and others) view the PROPER ROLE of the courts. I, along with many, do NOT see the courts and being charged with the duty to modify, change (or 'invent') *rights* which are granted to individuals. Instead, I see the courts acting purely as a check/balance on the actions of both the legislative and executive branches regarding those individual rights. The courts primary function is to *stop* over-reaching by the other branches; they do NOT mandate or require action on the part of the government (or should not).

    This approach goes hand-in-hand with what I see as the definition of Judicial Activism... and it doesn't matter if I agree with the decision or not. Legislative issues should be handled (or not) by the Legislative branch; Executive issues by the Executive branch - the Judicial branch keeps protects the citizenry against actions taken/not-taken the government. IMHO, the Judiciary DOES NOT have the Constitutional authority to implement 'legislation' by fiat.

    Yes, I'm over-simplifying things again, and I'll probably have to respond in detail in a separate post, but I think you see where I'm going. More to come...

    - Steve