Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Law of the Land

        It's no secret that the U.S. Constitution has been subject to much (mis?)interpretation over the years. Maybe it's too long, too complicated, not complicated enough, who knows? If I were rewriting it, I'd try,
                                           United States Constitution
                                                   We the people.
                                                         The end.
"What?! What is that supposed to be?"
       "It's the constitution. Why, you don't like it? Did you read the whole thing?"
"But, but, but...there's nothing there. Everything's missing."
       "Well, it's a little short but easy to read."     
"But, it doesn't say anything, doesn't answer any questions."
        "Give me a question that my constitution won't answer for you."
"Ok. What if two gay people want to get married. Can they?"
        "You sure you read the whole thing? Look, right after the 'e' in 'we', you see where it says
         that the constitution guarantees the right to marriage? And if the constitution guarantees
          the right to marriage, gay people also have the right to marry. Simple."
"Wait a minute! I don't see any of that stuff in there. Where are you reading?"
        "Hmm, do you see the stuff about the right to privacy, the right to an abortion, the right
         to make everyone buy health insurance or pay a penalty?"
"No, I don't see any of that stuff."
        "Just as I suspected. You're an originalist."
"Doc, no! Am I going to die?"
        "An 'originalist' is someone who reads the constitution and interprets it the way it was
         written. They are often referred to as The Sensible Ones. Others claim that the
         constitution is a 'living document' and has to be interpreted differently, no matter what  
         it says or how clearly it's written, because it was written for 'a different time.' They are 
         often referred to as New York Times Editorial Writers."   
"But that's crazy! Something can mean one thing today and something completely
  different tomorrow. Depends on who's on the Court. What a way to run a country."
        "So, who's perfect?"
"And if The Constitution is a 'living document' and can mean different things on different
  days, then what about the Penal Code, the Commercial Code, the..."
        "Sh-h-h, don't give them any ideas."