The Pros and Cons of Using the “Original Meaning” of the Constitution
In every society, there are certain rules that must be followed in order for that society to function properly. These rules are usually written down in some form or another so that everyone is aware of them and knows what is expected of them. In the United States of America, these rules are laid out in the Constitution. The Constitution is a document that was created by the Founding Fathers in order to establish the country’s government and outline the rights of its citizens.
The Constitution is not a static document; it is meant to be interpreted and applied to new situations as they arise. Over the years, there have been many different interpretations of the Constitution, depending on the beliefs and values of the people in power at the time. Recently, there has been a trend among courts to seek out the “original meaning” of the Constitution when making decisions. This means looking at what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution and using that as a guide for interpretation.
There are pros and cons to using the original meaning of the Constitution as a guide for interpretation. On one hand, it can provide much-needed clarity on what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote certain parts of the Constitution. On the other hand, it can be used to justify discrimination and oppression, as well as to limit the rights of citizens.
2. The “Original Meaning” of the Constitution
2.1 What It Means
When courts seek out the “original meaning” of the Constitution, they are looking at what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote it. They will look at things like the debates that took place during its creation, as well as any other writings from that time period. They will also try to consider how the world has changed since then and how that might affect how we interpret the Constitution today.
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to interpretation of the Constitution: originalism and living constitutionalism. Originalists believe that we should interpret the Constitution according to its original meaning; living constitutionalists believe that we should interpret it according to its current meaning. There is a lot of debate between these two groups about which approach is better.
originalist approach has been gaining popularity in recent years, especially among conservative judges and lawmakers. One of the most well-known originalists is Antonin Scalia, who served on the Supreme Court from 1986 until his death in 2016. Scalia was a strong advocate for using the original meaning of the Constitution when making decisions; he believed that this was the only way to ensure that we remained true to what the Founding Fathers intended.
Not all originalists are as strict as Scalia; some believe that we should take into account how the world has changed since 1787 when interpreting the Constitution. For example, Stephen Breyer, who currently serves on the Supreme Court, is an originalist but he also believes that we should consider modern realities when interpreting the Constitution. This means that while we should still look at what the Founding Fathers intended, we should also take into account things like social change and technological advances when making decisions.
2. 2 Pros of Using The “Original Meaning”
There are several advantages to using an originalist approach when interpretingthe Constitution:
It can provide much-needed clarity on what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote certain parts of the Constitution. This can be helpful in situations where there is a lot of debate about what a particular section of the Constitution means.
For example, the Second Amendment is often interpreted in different ways by different people. Some people believe that it gives everyone the right to own guns, while others believe that it only applies to people in the military. If we looked at the original meaning of the Second Amendment, it would become much clearer what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote it.
It can help to prevent judicial activism. Judicial activism is when judges make decisions based on their personal beliefs instead of interpreting the law objectively. This can be a problem because it can lead to decisions that are not in line with what the Constitution actually says.
If judges only consider the original meaning of the Constitution, it will be much harder for them to be inappropriately influenced by their personal beliefs. This could help to make sure that court decisions are more objective and in line with what the Constitution actually says.
2. 3 Cons of Using The “Original Meaning”
There are also several disadvantages to using an originalist approach when interpretingthe Constitution:
It can be used to justify discrimination and oppression. For example, if we looked at the original meaning of the Constitution, we would see that it contains several references to slavery. This could be used to argue that slavery is constitutional and should not be abolished.
It can also be used to justify other forms of discrimination, such as sexism and racism. If we look at the history of interpretation of the Constitution, we can see that this has already happened; for example, the Supreme Court has used an originalist approach to justify bans on interracial marriage in the past.
It can limit the rights of citizens. For example, if we looked at the original meaning of the First Amendment, we would see that it only protects certain types of speech. This means that if we use an originalist approach when interpreting the First Amendment, it could be used to argue that hate speech is not protected by the Constitution.
The “original meaning” of the Constitution is an approach to interpretation that looks at what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote it. There are both advantages and disadvantages to using this approach. Some people believe that it can provide clarity on what the Founding Fathers intended; others believe that it can be used to justify discrimination and oppression. Ultimately, whether or not this approach is used is up to those who are interpretingthe Constitution at any given time.