Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever over a

Apr 2008
33
Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever over a

Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever over arms or religion, I don't see why the First and Second Amendments were even necessary. Nor do I see why we should care much about what they mean.

The lawmakers clearly didn't want the federal government to have any jurisdiction whatsoever regarding arms or religion. The only question is whether we interpret those denials of power broadly or narrowly.
 
Feb 2008
409
Re: Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever ov

I get what you're saying, but I would counter and say that the framers clearly wanted it WRITTEN DOWN that these were the laws.

This was the entire reason for the constitution in the first place. We, as former British citizens, expected certain guaranteed rights, but since they weren't written down in a formalized constitution, they could be taken away.

We had an enormous fear of just having unwritten precedents.
 

Pedro

Forum Staff
Mar 2008
17,151
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
Re: Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever ov

Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever over arms or religion, I don't see why the First and Second Amendments were even necessary. Nor do I see why we should care much about what they mean.

The lawmakers clearly didn't want the federal government to have any jurisdiction whatsoever regarding arms or religion. The only question is whether we interpret those denials of power broadly or narrowly.
Am I correct in assuming you are a 'strict constructionist' ?
 

DIVUS IVLIVS

Ad Honoris
Jan 2008
18,739
Virginia
Re: Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever ov

I get what you're saying, but I would counter and say that the framers clearly wanted it WRITTEN DOWN that these were the laws.

This was the entire reason for the constitution in the first place. We, as former British citizens, expected certain guaranteed rights, but since they weren't written down in a formalized constitution, they could be taken away.

We had an enormous fear of just having unwritten precedents.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
 
Apr 2008
33
Re: Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever ov

Am I correct in assuming you are a 'strict constructionist' ?
That all depends on what you mean.

I'm actually a "common law rules of construction-ist", which is to say that I incline toward the view that the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights should be interpreted according to the common law "rules of construction" that prevailed at the time the Constitution was made.

The historical evidence overwhelmingly indicates that the lawmakers intended for the "rules of construction" to be used to interpret the Constitution. Unfortuately, almost no one seems to be aware of the historical evidence, or even care about what the founders believed regarding the interpretation of legal instruments.
 
Feb 2008
409
Re: Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever ov

That all depends on what you mean.

I'm actually a "common law rules of construction-ist", which is to say that I incline toward the view that the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights should be interpreted according to the common law "rules of construction" that prevailed at the time the Constitution was made.

The historical evidence overwhelmingly indicates that the lawmakers intended for the "rules of construction" to be used to interpret the Constitution. Unfortuately, almost no one seems to be aware of the historical evidence, or even care about what the founders believed regarding the interpretation of legal instruments.
Why? Why is the intent of the founders more important than what we might find appropriate now?
 
Apr 2008
33
Re: Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever ov

Why? Why is the intent of the founders more important than what we might find appropriate now?
I never said, or rather meant to say, that a court should ignore the doctrine of stare decisis and revisit "original intent" every time it decides a case. However, upon those occasions when a Justice feels compelled to revisit the original text of the Constitution to ascertain the will of the lawmakers at the time the instrument was made, he should use the common law "rules of construction", because that's what the lawmakers probably intended for him to use.
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
Re: Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever ov

Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever over arms or religion, I don't see why the First and Second Amendments were even necessary.
I was taught that the 13 states would not have approved the Constitution without the Bill of Rights. I don't know whether it was formally voted down in each legislature, or whether it was handled more informally, but it wasn't going to happen without those amendments.
 
Apr 2008
33
Re: Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever ov

I was taught that the 13 states would not have approved the Constitution without the Bill of Rights.
That's a myth. Also, keep in mind, it only took nine states to ratify the Constitution.

11 of the 13 states ratified with no assurances whatsoever that the First U. S. Congress would proposed amendments. They didn't even know who would be elected to the First U. S. Congress. Some candidates for the First U. S. Congress may have made promises to support a Bill of Rights. I believe James Madison made such a promise to John Leland and others in Orange County Virginia, which was Madison's district.

I don't know whether it was formally voted down in each legislature, or whether it was handled more informally, but it wasn't going to happen without those amendments.
Seven states wanted no amendments. Six states did.

Only two states refused to ratify because there was no Bill of Rights. Of the two, one jumped on board a couple of months after Congress recommended its twelve amendments. The other one waited about six more months to join the union.
 
Oct 2007
130
Philadelphia, US
Re: Given that the original unamended Constitution granted the government no authority whatsoever ov

So, you find some parts of the Constitution valid and others invalid?

As to the "intent of the lawmakers," I don't think there was a dramatic difference in authorship between the original document and the first ten amendments.