Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently spoke at Southern Methodist University and declared The Constitution dead.
Well, he did, but not like you might have thought, given the recent trampling large swaths of it have been subjected to in recent years. My first thought upon reading the headline in The Dallas Morning News that Scalia had said the Constitution was dead was, “Well duh!”…when did you notice?
I quickly realized that, given Scalia’s strict constructionist view of the document, that is means exactly what it says. No”interpreting”, no “living document”, but that it demands an interpretation, not a translation.
That word…interpretation…gives some constructionists the heebie-jeebies, and with good cause. When progressives say interpretation they mean to interpret it as a living document whose meaning can change and grow with changing times, which is not the case.
Justice Scalia’s exact words were:
The Constiution’s not a living document. It’s dead, dead, dead!
Interpretation comes into play when we are deciding things like what the founding fathers meant when they wrote the second amendment, giving people the right to keep and bear arms, a right that, according to the amendment “shall not be infringed”. Some parts of the Constitution can be legitimately decided based on an “interpretation” as we may or may not know the original intent of the framers, but such is not the case with the 2nd Amendment. “Original intent” could hardly be more clear as to what the framers meant and why they included the amendment.
The United States was a new nation, scarcely a decade old, and had won its independence from an oppressive, tyrannical government in England under King George. The colonists…new states citizens…understood exactly what it meant to live under an oppressive dictator which is what George was…and they knew that had they been disarmed as colonists the Revolutionery War would have had a far different outcome. While there was a Contenental Army under George Washington, the difference was individual citizens, firing from hidden perches, behind trees, and every other hiding place they could find, picking off Redcoats one by one, then retreating, only to ambush more British troops at another time, perhaps another day.
When the 2nd Amendment was written, over 10 years later, the intent was and still is obvious. citizens MUST be allowed weaponry sufficient to challenge, at the infantryman level at the minimum, troops of a tyrannical government, foreign or domestic. Citizens MUST be allowed to be armed at least as well as the average battlefield infantryman. That was the intent, and that is the law of the land. Period. It does not change, it does not “evolve. An armed citizenry is the last defense against a despotic tyrant, and that doesn’t change.
In that regard, Justice Scalia was spot on…the Constitution is dead, Dead, DEAD!