I don’t want to alarm anyone, but feel it’s my duty to report the news. And the news is very grim today because according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the Constitution of the United States is dead. Yep, he actually said that.
Scalia, speaking at Southern Methodist University earlier this year, flat out declared that the document which guides our nation and is the foundation for all of our laws, is, in his words:
“Dead, dead, dead.”
Justice Scalia, you have to understand, is what is known as an Originalist, and those who subscribe to this view of the Constitution are convinced this great document was written by a single minded ideology, and that it gives us the ability to only interpret said document in light of how it was written some 200 years ago. He believes this, mind you, despite what Thomas Jefferson wrote regarding that very issue:
“But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
In other words, Jefferson, like most of the Founding Fathers, was convinced the Constitution should be a living, breathing basis for laws which would change as the times changed. Same-sex marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution, because it wasn’t an issue in the late 1700s. But it’s an issue today, and Jefferson believed new laws could be found in the framework of what he had written.
If the Constitution was dead, as Justice Scalia maintains, then our nation would surely have collapsed under the horror and discord of the Civil War. A dead Constitution never have been able to address the great wrong of slavery and the advent of civil rights for all Americans. But it has survived, and it has thrived, just as we have in this country.
No, the Constitution is far from dead, despite the actions taken by men such as Antonin Scalia to kill it with their archaic legal opinions and morality which belongs to another era entirely. Thankfully, the Constitution will be around long after Scalia is a distant memory.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org.