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donnie_darko
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25 Dec 2011, 3:21 pm

What do you think of the development in the conservative American political realm that the Constitution is inerrant, and divinely inspired? Do you think it's logical at all considering the Constitution represents compromise (not all the Founding Fathers agreed on everything) and was purposely written vaguely so it could evolve with the times?

Personally I find the idea that the American Constitution is an inerrant, sacred document disturbing and illogical, just like believing the Bible or Koran is inerrant.



Jacoby
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25 Dec 2011, 3:56 pm

The idea that it is an "evolving" or "living" document on its own is the ridiculous idea, completely defeats the point of a having a constitution. Its not suppose to be inerrant or divine, that's why there is an amendment process. Simply inventing new powers and "reinterpreting" old ones is dangerous and a big part of the reason we are creeping ever closer to a corporatist police state.



Last edited by Jacoby on 26 Dec 2011, 2:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

VIDEODROME
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25 Dec 2011, 5:14 pm

True I think the Constitution can change, but please follow due process. Inventing weird legal shortcuts and trying to skip steps freaks out people.

Consider the Income Tax. I don't think that was expressly authorized in the Constitution. So they passed an Amendment. I think the income tax sucks but at least that is trying to follow due process. So if I wanted to challenge it I wouldn't due so on Constitutional grounds.



TheSnarkKnight
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25 Dec 2011, 5:52 pm

Constitutional Fundamentalism my @$$! I can remember a few months ago Rick Perry said he wanted to subvert the powers of the judiciary so that Congress could pass laws that might otherwise be deemed unconstitutional, because he feels that was the original intent of the Founding Fathers when they developed the Constitution. Let me rephrase that: The Founding Fathers established IN THE CONSTITUTION that the Judiciary branch of government should be separate from the Legislature and the Executive branches for the specific purpose of upholding the Constitution, and their job is to evaluate policies passed by the other two branches to make sure said policies do not violate the rights of the citizens. But Rick Perry thinks that the Judiciary gets in the way of public policy, and that Congress should be able to override the decisions of the Supreme Court in order to promote progress, because he says that's what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution.

Gingrich says he would arrest activist judges who he doesn't agree with, as if the President had absolute power over public policy (which he doesn't...yet).

The only conservative I would call a Constitutional Fundamentalist might be Ron Paul. The rest of the GOP seems to advocate right wing authoritarianism rather than Constitutional liberty.



ruveyn
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25 Dec 2011, 10:02 pm

donnie_darko wrote:
What do you think of the development in the conservative American political realm that the Constitution is inerrant, and divinely inspired? Do you think it's logical at all considering the Constitution represents compromise (not all the Founding Fathers agreed on everything) and was purposely written vaguely so it could evolve with the times?

Personally I find the idea that the American Constitution is an inerrant, sacred document disturbing and illogical, just like believing the Bible or Koran is inerrant.


The Constitution was made by humans and flawed humans at that. The Founders were forced to compromise on the issue of slavery what came back to haunt the nation in 1861 with the bloodiest war in American history. As John Brown said: The sins of this nation will not be purged except by the effusion of blood. So true.

ruveyn



NeantHumain
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25 Dec 2011, 11:04 pm

TheSnarkKnight wrote:
The Founding Fathers established IN THE CONSTITUTION that the Judiciary branch of government should be separate from the Legislature and the Executive branches for the specific purpose of upholding the Constitution, and their job is to evaluate policies passed by the other two branches to make sure said policies do not violate the rights of the citizens.

Judicial review was established in Marbury v. Madison rather than being in the Constitution per se.

You will note that the clear, original meaning of the Constitution always aligns with the policy goals of the conservative movement. This is no accident; the Founders wrote the Constitution with the base of the Republican Party in the 21st century in mind. You will also note that the unambiguous original intent of the Founders, which by definition never changes, will change over the years as the conservative position changes; in all cases, however, the conservative position remains the original and correct one. To understand the mental contortions involved, it is best to listen to Rush Limbaugh et al.; regardless, conservatives always know best, and we'd be better off just giving absolute power so that they would stop having to remind of us of this and get on with the business of controlling our lives in the name of God, Liberty, and apple pie.



Awesomelyglorious
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26 Dec 2011, 1:59 am

The issue is that we have a lot of complicated issues involved:

1) It is correct that the use of a Constitution is to limit legal power and legal excess. This is a justified reason as well, because for whatever reason, governments overstep their justified boundaries, whether this is corruption or a lack of regard for long-term stability or idealism.
2) It is also correct that in practice, our boundaries are not clearly defined by the original constitution. The amendments alter the meaning, and in our current system, the alterations are dramatic and hard to truly understand. The problems we face also weren't fully developed in the time of the founding fathers.
3) Even if our boundaries were clearly defined by the original constitution, it is not necessarily the case that holding to it is the optimal policy. If the official institutions in place for changing the legal structure are insufficient, then we are better off with the deception of altering the laws through backhanded measures than overhauling the basic structure of society. If we attempt an overhaul, we may not arrive at the desired improvement, but we are very likely to cause social turmoil.
4) Even if there are actual meanings to the laws in the Constitution(which there may not be because the amendments and the change in context alters the meaning), these meanings are contentious, and claims to what they really are in practice, basically end up as subservient to political ideologies which wish them to be a certain way. So, for a conservative to make the claim that "the constitution says X, Y, Z", he is not necessarily saying something utterly invalid, but... uncertainty does distort the matter, and a constitution with uncertain meaning is in practice no different than a constitution with no inherent meaning.

I don't think the conservative interpretation is utterly ridiculous as a general rule. Some conservative interpretations are utterly ridiculous. However, the claim that the constitution was written to be malleable is itself contentious. The founding fathers had their own disputes on the constitution, and the question was strict interpretation or loose, with people who held to a strict interpretation very likely having a low view of malleability. In fact, during that time period, the idea of malleable laws would not have been as apparent because of the Enlightenment ideals. It is true though, that conservatives make the mistake of assuming something is constitutional therefore it is right, at least on occasion. That being said.... on some level, we need laws to limit the nature of society, for fear of cancerous growths.



Kraichgauer
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26 Dec 2011, 4:05 am

Constitutional fundamentalists are like their religious counterparts in that both claim to take either the constitution or their holy book literally, but in fact lose touch with what either means.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



ruveyn
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26 Dec 2011, 4:18 am

NeantHumain wrote:
TheSnarkKnight wrote:
The Founding Fathers established IN THE CONSTITUTION that the Judiciary branch of government should be separate from the Legislature and the Executive branches for the specific purpose of upholding the Constitution, and their job is to evaluate policies passed by the other two branches to make sure said policies do not violate the rights of the citizens.

Judicial review was established in Marbury v. Madison rather than being in the Constitution per se.

.


In particular the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in admiralty case BUT its appelate jurisdiction is limited to cases of fact and law. Not the word "cases". That means there is no general power to decree whether a particular law is constitutional or not except in a case. This is a a major defect in the Constitution and it was "resolved" in Marbury v Madison. To put a point on it, Justice Marshall usurped the power of Judicial Review. No subsequent court has undone Marshall's unconstitutional extending of judicial power (I wonder why?).

My own opinion is that the Founders should have built in a process of constitutional review in the first place, but that is not what happened.

ruveyn



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26 Dec 2011, 4:25 am

ruveyn wrote:
NeantHumain wrote:
TheSnarkKnight wrote:
The Founding Fathers established IN THE CONSTITUTION that the Judiciary branch of government should be separate from the Legislature and the Executive branches for the specific purpose of upholding the Constitution, and their job is to evaluate policies passed by the other two branches to make sure said policies do not violate the rights of the citizens.

Judicial review was established in Marbury v. Madison rather than being in the Constitution per se.

.


In particular the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in admiralty case BUT its appelate jurisdiction is limited to cases of fact and law. Not the word "cases". That means there is no general power to decree whether a particular law is constitutional or not except in a case. This is a a major defect in the Constitution and it was "resolved" in Marbury v Madison. To put a point on it, Justice Marshall usurped the power of Judicial Review. No subsequent court has undone Marshall's unconstitutional extending of judicial power (I wonder why?).

My own opinion is that the Founders should have built in a process of constitutional review in the first place, but that is not what happened.

ruveyn


So at the time of the founding fathers, were you just too young to contribute anything?

I'm kidding! I'm kidding! :lol:

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



ruveyn
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26 Dec 2011, 4:31 am

Kraichgauer wrote:

So at the time of the founding fathers, were you just too young to contribute anything?

I'm kidding! I'm kidding! :lol:

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


They were the beginners and amateurs. We of a later time have sufficient knowledge to judge their errors. The Constitution was defective from day one. It permitted slavery. That eventually led to the Civil War which killed more Americans than all the other wars America has been in (declared or undeclared). One judges a product by the consequences of its nature and use. The U.S. Constitution gets a C minus.

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Kraichgauer
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26 Dec 2011, 4:34 am

ruveyn wrote:
Kraichgauer wrote:

So at the time of the founding fathers, were you just too young to contribute anything?

I'm kidding! I'm kidding! :lol:

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


They were the beginners and amateurs. We of a later time have sufficient knowledge to judge their errors. The Constitution was defective from day one. It permitted slavery. That eventually led to the Civil War which killed more Americans than all the other wars America has been in (declared or undeclared). One judges a product by the consequences of its nature and use. The U.S. Constitution gets a C minus.

ruveyn


Probably - but at least the founders had had sense enough to allow for amendments.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



techstepgenr8tion
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26 Dec 2011, 4:37 am

Glad to see mostly refreshing posts.

I'll second what a lot of people have said already - when people try to legally retrofit or short-cut the content of it to meet the flavor of the week, our essential 'rule book' gets undermined and when that can happen; things can get incredibly dicey. We don't want that.


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ruveyn
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26 Dec 2011, 5:07 am

Kraichgauer wrote:

Probably - but at least the founders had had sense enough to allow for amendments.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


They had no choice. In order to get the Constitution accepted by at least 9 states the addition of a Bill of Rights was demanded to put a limit on the new government. The original seven articles were no guarantee against tyranny. Alexander Hamilton (the Statist from Hell) was not kindly disposed toward a limited government.

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donnie_darko
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26 Dec 2011, 9:33 am

Do you think fundamentalism in general, whether it's constitutional, Christian, or Islamic, is a backlash against the relativism that is so dominant in our post-modern society? Do you think people desire something that is still 'set in stone' and that's the appeal behind irrational "by the book" fundamentalism?



Awesomelyglorious
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26 Dec 2011, 9:47 am

donnie_darko wrote:
Do you think fundamentalism in general, whether it's constitutional, Christian, or Islamic, is a backlash against the relativism that is so dominant in our post-modern society? Do you think people desire something that is still 'set in stone' and that's the appeal behind irrational "by the book" fundamentalism?

Yes, in part. If you're only talking about an Originalist/Textualist interpretation of the Constitution, I'd probably give it more respect than the other two, but even then it has questionable grounds.

Yes, I think that people want something "set in stone", and that this drive is one of the drives that pushes them towards strictness in interpretation. There is a real issue involved though on what it means to have "rule of law", and originalism/textualism has one of the more intuitive answers.