The Constitution Means Exactly What It Says

How many of you out there have heard this phrase:

“The Constitution is a living document.”

I know I've heard it hundreds, if not thousands of times. While I understand the sentiment behind it, most often spoken by the more left-wing Democrats, it is a falsehood. Why do I say that? Let me take you through my thinking about this and see if you agree (or disagree).

First, the Constitution was the template to which all laws passed by Congress or the states would be compared. If those laws violated one or more of the articles or amendments, it would be invalid. This 'template' was in place to prevent unjust or morally reprehensible laws from being created or enforced.

Second, the Framers understood that there would be times when it would be desirable to make changes to the Constitution and created a mechanism to do that. The idea was that a supermajority of the states (two-thirds) would have to agree with any amendments proposed. This requirement for ratification helps prevent trivial or specious changes to the Constitution. After the Bill of Rights (the first 10 Amendments) there have been 17 other amendments made to the Constitution, a small number when you think about it. Some corrected oversights by the Framers, others did away with laws or practices that were found to be reprehensible by any measure (slavery, denying women and blacks the right to vote, to name a couple). Others have been proposed, but failed to be ratified. Only one Amendment was ratified to negate a previous Amendment (the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment [Prohibition]).

Third, many claim we have no knowledge or idea what was in the minds of the Framers, meaning the various Articles and Amendments are open to interpretation (or re-interpretation). It is not true. The Federalist Papers give a excellent picture of the thinking behind and the meaning of each portion of the Constitution. I don't know how any claims to the contrary can possibly be entertained.

So what about the claim the Constitution is a “living document”? My question to those making such a statement: If the meaning of the Constitution can be changed by nothing more than the decision of a judge, then does it really mean anything at all? If that's the case, then any of the Articles or Amendments can be interpreted to mean anything at all, turning the meaning of any part of it upside down and inside out until it is unrecognizable. If that's indeed the case, it implies the Constitution is utterly meaningless.

Instead, the Constitution is supposed to be the rock upon which our rights are to be supported, our laws to be held to close scrutiny. If it needs to be changed to keep up with the times, then it is up to us to use the mechanism the Framers created to do so. Capricious “changes” wrought by a court and not by the people is a dangerous thing, imperiling our inalienable rights. But that's what the more radical Left wants, enabling them to push through new 'amendments' they know would never be ratified by Congress and the states because they fly in the face of the very Constitution they seek to distort. That is the so-called “living document” they praise, not the one we've been taught is supposed to be the supreme law of the land.

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