View Poll Results: Does the original intent still matter when discussing the Constitution?

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  • Yes. We should strictly follow both the letter and spirit of the original intent.

    28 35.90%
  • Yes. We should follow the original principles and then apply them as new issues arise.

    21 26.92%
  • Yes. The original intent of the Constition is important, but other factors must be considered.

    15 19.23%
  • No. The Constitution is a guiding set of principles that we can interrpret to fit our current needs.

    10 12.82%
  • Other

    4 5.13%
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Thread: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

  1. #111
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    Re: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    I voted "Yes. We should strictly follow both the letter and spirit of the original intent." This Oh the constitution was written in the 18th century is nothing more than a load of crap used to restrict constitutional rights. The right to bear arms, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of religion and other rights are just as applicable today as they were the 1700s.


    Yes, but all the things you mentioned are all in the bill of rights, which is not even part of the original constitution, but are instead the first ten amendments to the constitution.


    Not only that, but that is only a very small percentage of the constitution as a whole. So as I said in my original post, some parts of the constitution are still just as timely today as then(the bill of rights for example). But there are other factors which make a originalist interpretation of the constitution a bad idea.
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  2. #112
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    Re: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackdog View Post
    The original intent is right there for all to see.

    Start by actually reading the Constitution and not letting someone else interpret it for you.

    It has little to do with arogence or needing a time machine. A simple reading of the letters and comunications of the founders (yes we have many of them) will spell it out for even the weakest mind.

    The intent of the founders is easy to see. It is the people who want to change it that try and lie about basic tenants like the 2nd amendment for example. "A well regulated militia" is the people. As told by Benjamen Franklin, etc. And yet we still have idiots who say it means military only or some such nonsense.

    So no, only 1 correct version.

    That is a false statement, it is not always easy to determine the intent of the founders, as many of the founders had different intents. If you read the idea of Alexander Hamilton, you will find an approach which would be vastly different than if if you read the ideas of Thomas Jefferson. To say that the intent is easily discerned is wrong, but to say it is impossible to know anything is wrong as well.
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  3. #113
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    Re: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    I can think of many things that need to be changed (or at least codified):

    1. Our system for electing a president
    2. A constitutional guarantee of the right to privacy
    3. A redefinition of the scope of congressional power
    4. A redefinition of how DC is governed (preferably the same as a state)
    5. Term limits for congressmen and Supreme Court justices
    6. The Equal Rights Amendment
    7. A clarification that all "military actions" OR wars must be declared by Congress, not the President
    8. A change to the constitutional amendment process itself

    Those are just a few of my suggestions. I'm sure many people have their own lists. But alas, the constitutional amendment process is just too cumbersome and difficult in today's world, which the Founding Fathers never anticipated. Therefore we cannot use an original intent. Our government would simply not function properly if we kept a very difficult amendment process AND relied on original intent, because we'd end up with a government that was very much like what they had in 1789...hardly a good model for today's world.
    1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 have all been effectively enacted, without being official ammendments to the Constitution. Mostly through court rulings that "interpreted" the Constitution in a way that was not entirely consistent with original intent. That's why no one has felt the need to push through amendments. Why bother when activist courts enact the changes? This also points to why no one worries about number eight on your list. We tend to use the courts to update or reinvent our Constitution. If we had a court that wasn't so willing to ignore or reinterpret original intent, then we'd have more need for amendments and might have more enacted. The fact is the amendment process is largely ignored with the exception of a few hot button issues that have no chance of passing (gay marriage, flag burning, ect).

    The problem I have with this is the Supreme Court is the least accountable and least responsive branch of the federal government. The Constitution is meant to be the supreme law of the land. If we have judges appointed to a lifetime position empowered to simply create new interpretations to fit what they see as our current needs, there is no accountability. It entirely removes public debate from the process of changing the very foundations of our government.
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  4. #114
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    Re: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post

    Again, they wrote the constitutional amendment process with THEIR society in mind. I doubt they considered that one day the country would have 50 states and span a continent. The amendment process is extremely difficult in today's world. Much more difficult than it should be, if "original intent" is going to be considered.


    Actually, almost all of our founders did think America would eventually span all of north America. But what they could not foresee was the complexities of a modern society, and a modern economy. The document was written to govern an 18th century agrarian society. Not a post-industrial 21st century society. Some of the ideas of the constitution will be valid forever, some do not fit our modern needs.
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  5. #115
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    Re: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frodly View Post
    Actually, almost all of our founders did think America would eventually span all of north America. But what they could not foresee was the complexities of a modern society, and a modern economy. The document was written to govern an 18th century agrarian society. Not a post-industrial 21st century society. Some of the ideas of the constitution will be valid forever, some do not fit our modern needs.
    Which is why they included an amendment process.

  6. #116
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    Re: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frodly View Post
    [......] some do not fit our modern needs.
    which ones? (that haven't already been amended)

  7. #117
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    Re: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by other View Post
    which ones? (that haven't already been amended)
    Just as guess, I'll take medical insurance as a right. Gas in every car. Obama will pay my mortgage.

  8. #118
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    Re: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psychoclown View Post
    1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 have all been effectively enacted, without being official ammendments to the Constitution. Mostly through court rulings that "interpreted" the Constitution in a way that was not entirely consistent with original intent. That's why no one has felt the need to push through amendments. Why bother when activist courts enact the changes? This also points to why no one worries about number eight on your list. We tend to use the courts to update or reinvent our Constitution. If we had a court that wasn't so willing to ignore or reinterpret original intent, then we'd have more need for amendments and might have more enacted. The fact is the amendment process is largely ignored with the exception of a few hot button issues that have no chance of passing (gay marriage, flag burning, ect).
    But that's exactly my point. The Supreme Court abandoned an originalist interpretation of the Constitution (and the American people went along with it) BECAUSE of the cumbersome amendment process.

    If the amendment process was easier, I doubt you'd see nearly as much judicial activism. But we have to have one or the other...an easier amendment process, or an active judiciary. Otherwise very little would ever change from the way the government operated in 1789, which was obviously a very different world from the one we now inhabit.
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  9. #119
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    Re: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crunch View Post
    Which is why they included an amendment process.
    ...one that is too difficult and unwieldy to be of much use in the modern world.
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  10. #120
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    Re: The Constitution: Does Original Intent Still Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    ...one that is too difficult and unwieldy to be of much use in the modern world.
    So get an amendment to change it.... because that is the only way you will ever change.

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