One quality I think most of the Founding Fathers shared however is their ability to compromise and accept that the decisions they reached, although not perfect in their eyes, would receive their personal full support.
However given the obvious amount of differences amongst the individuals most frequently called the Founding Fathers, and the fact that it took over 4 years after the end of the war, 13 since the official beginning of the country to write a document as a short as the Constitution should be testimony enough to the extreme difficulty of that task.
I take the opinion that the original intent of each Founding Father, along with their opinions on what each phrase in the Constitution specifically meant, are entirely meaningless from the perspective of legally deciding what the Constitution means. If you look at the earliest Constitutional issues, again like Marbury v. Madison, the government, which included many Founding Fathers such as Jefferson who was President at that time, accepted the decision and authority of the SCOTUS to define the meaning of the Constitution, despite the fact that none of those judges were writers or signers of that document.
The original writers who were still alive, active, in government, allowed a group of men who had nothing to do with the writing of the Constitution decide what its meaning was. Thomas Jefferson was the loudest opponent of the Marbury v. Madison decision, but even though he was President he didn't attempt to use that office to overrule that decision. So I take that acceptance and following of that decision, although unhappily in some cases, to mean the Founding Fathers have given authority of interpretation to the SCOTUS. And its been that way ever sense.
So ultimately you had a group of men who had a number of important disagreements signing a document which they couldn't even all agree on the meaning of each portion in the first place. Someone or something had to be the final authority on what the Constitution said, otherwise there would be no way the country would stay together because the delegate from Virgina told his state legislature it meant one thing and the guy from Georgia said something else. What could they do, convene a Constitutional Congress every time there was an issue? No, to impose order and rule of law upon the country only ONE institution had to have authority, and the SCOTUS was the best choice.
You can't say "I'm going along with what the Founding Fathers said" because they have multiple opinions, the SCOTUS being one body has one opinion and therefore is the better choice to follow and be given authority to make these kind of decisions both then and now.
SCOTUS at one time issued rulings supporting slavery. Later it issued rulings supporting "seperate-but-equal". SCOTUS is hardly perfect... SCOTUS is political, just not AS political as the House.
Neither were the FF's. They compromised on the slavery issue out of necessity... that has since been put right via Amendment. Sufferage for all citizens has been put in via Amendment.
You don't like what's in the Constitution, you Amend it. You don't reinterpret it entirely out of the original meaning.
I'm going to have to just agree to disagree with some of you. I intend to continue using the FF's words as a guide to original intent where there are questions of "interpretation". If the FF's were so full of disagreement, then you should find it easy to refute my argument by quoting a similar # of FF's with different views.
A Constitution that doesn't mean what it says is about as worthless as a fraudulent check. We NEED those "hard-shell limits" to keep government in its proper boundaries.
Fiddling While Rome Burns
Carthago Delenda Est
"I used to roll the dice; see the fear in my enemies' eyes... listen as the crowd would sing, 'now the old king is dead, Long Live the King.'.."
Alexander Hamilton had this to say "If it be said that the legislative body are themselves the constitutional judges of their own powers, and that the construction they put upon them is conclusive upon the other departments, it may be answered, that this cannot be the natural presumption, where it is not to be collected from any particular provisions in the Constitution. It is not otherwise to be supposed, that the Constitution could intend to enable the representatives of the people to substitute their will to that of their constituents. It is far more rational to suppose, that the courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature, in order, among other things, to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority. The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It, therefore, belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents"
By the way he signed the Constitution, and here's he's say he has no power or authority to decide its meaning even though he helped write the thing. And by virtue of saying he has no power or authority to decide its meaning also means its meaning is not set in stone, otherwise there would be no deciding needed. So in the case of at least this Founding Father, he disagrees with you.
Whereas Thomas Jefferson said it "placing us under the despotism of an oligarchy."
So who are we supposed to go with? Is there a way to jduge one Founder Father has having an opinion as better than the other? Or more important than the other? There's no way to rely just on the Founding Fathers, who have contradicting opinions, to decide the meaning of the Constitution. The only way to do it is to have ONE authority, even it if disagrees with itself every now and then, because its far more reliable and consistant and unlike the Founding Fathers, who are now dead, can makes judgment on things which the Founding Fathers never addressed.
Last edited by Wiseone; 01-04-11 at 05:00 PM.
Funny thing..... I happen to be in a waiting room earlier, and they had NPR on. apparently this is the topic du jour for the left....
See I think many on the left view the USC as an obstacle, and this sort of talk they have been engaged in. kinda leads me to think I am right.
Matthew 10:34Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
So no response? I mean you have two cheer leaders thanking every one of your posts, you don't want to let them down?
All this talk of interpreting the constitution based on what those who wrote it said outside of what was legally passed reminds me somewhat of the Euthyphro Dilemma posed by Socrates, in that the many Gods do not always agree, and in fact often vehemently disagree. If you want to determine what God holds to be pious it's made significantly more difficult when there are multiple Gods.
Just my $0.02
Again, I see many on the right confusing progressive scorn for the right trying to claim their view of the Constitution as their own with scorn for the document itself. And I think - for some - that confusion is deliberate and intentional and a blatant attempt to attack progressives.
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.... John Rogers